What Is Aural Hematoma in Dogs?
What is it?
How is it Treated?
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One sunny afternoon, Lisa was playing fetch with her energetic Border Collie, Luna, in the backyard when she noticed something unusual about her canine companion’s ear. Luna’s earflap appeared swollen and tender, causing her obvious discomfort. Concerned, Lisa immediately scheduled a visit to her trusted veterinarian. After a careful examination, the vet diagnosed Luna with an aural hematoma, a condition Lisa had never heard of before.
Aural Hematoma in dogs is a condition with abnormal blood accumulation in the ear flap. This can be attributed to trauma or irritation to the outer ear flap, such as scratching. The appearance of CAHs is unmistakable when it occurs; an inflamed and swollen ear flap with purplish discoloration that feels like a water-filled balloon when touched.
Aural hematomas are common in dogs. Breeds with the highest odds included Bull Terrier, Saint Bernard, and French Bulldog. It is a blood collection outside the accumulation of blood vessels and is caused by bleeding inside the ear canal.
This can happen spontaneously or after a minor injury, such as being dropped off a table. Most cases resolve themselves within two weeks without any medical intervention. However, it is essential to monitor the dog closely because untreated hematomas can lead to infection. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any signs of pain or swelling around the ears.
What Causes Ear Hematomas in Dogs?
Hematoma in dogs is common. A study found that 80 percent of dogs with secondary ear infections had pendulous (long, floppy) ears. They usually occur when bleeding from the ear canal into the middle ear. The most common cause of this condition is trauma to the external auditory meatus (ear canal), ear infection, foreign body ingestion, ear mites, otitis externa, neoplasia, and mast cell tumors.
Other causes include inflammation, infection, foreign bodies, tumors, and congenital abnormalities. Some breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers and German German Shepherds, are predisposed to developing ear hematomas due to their thick skin. In some cases, no apparent cause can be found.
There are three types of ear hematomas: simple, complex, and complicated. Simple hematomas are small and don’t require surgery. Complex hematomas are large enough to cause pain and require a surgical approach. Finally, a complicated hematoma requires urgent attention because it can become infected.
Symptoms of Canine Aural Hematomas
Symptoms include swelling in the ear flap, which is usually hot to the touch and painful for your pet. They may also have discharge from their ear(s), head shaking, rubbing their head against objects, and increased sensitivity when you handle their ears (such as brushing).
Ear hematomas can develop after trauma or injury to the ear canal. For example, dogs who chew on foreign objects can sometimes damage their eardrums, causing blood blisters to leak into the middle ear.
If left untreated, aural hematomas can cause permanent changes to your pet’s earflap shape and thickness. There can also be long-term nerve damage due to decreased blood supply and infection risk since pus accumulates in the flap. So, you must seek treatment immediately if you suspect your pet has an aural hematoma.
Diagnosing Aural Hematomas in Your Dog
Veterinarians use several methods to diagnose aural hematoma in dogs. These include a physical exam of the ear flap, imaging tests such as X-rays or lab tests, and a detailed medical history of the dog.
During a physical exam, the veterinarian gently presses around the swollen area to detect fluid accumulation. The outer side of the ear may be warm due to inflammation, and there might be reddening and increased hair follicle production on or around the affected area. Next, veterinarians use otoscopy to shine light through the dog’s ear canal and examine its contents. This helps them determine whether there’s any bleeding inside the ear.
The vet may also order imaging tests such as X-rays to check for any underlying bone injury that might explain why the lesion occurred. In addition, it’s essential to test for bacteria and other infectious causes that can cause an aural hematoma.
Veterinary cytology is another method used to diagnose ear hematomas. This involves taking a sample of fluid from inside the ear canal. The samples are sent to a laboratory where technicians use microscopes to examine cells under high magnification. This allows them to see whether white blood cells are present, indicating inflammation, or red blood cells, indicating infection.
Lab results often allow further investigation into the cause of inflammation, whether allergies, parasites, or another type of infection caused it.
Finally, obtaining a comprehensive medical history on the dog may help determine if an existing condition could be causing this issue or other factors contributing to its occurrence.
Treatment for Aural Hematomas in Dogs
Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the symptoms. Mild cases may be treated with warm compresses, topical medications, and antibiotics. Severe cases require ear hematoma surgery to remove the blood clot and repair any damage to surrounding tissue.
Aural hematoma drainage is one of the most common treatments to relieve pressure and reduce discomfort. Nonsurgical treatment options include topical medications, antibiotics, and even home remedies.
For surgical options, the most common way to treat an ear hematoma is to drain the fluid and present blood clots out of the middle ear. This involves inserting tubes into the eardrum and drainage tube. Sometimes, surgery is needed to close the hole in the eardrum.
Topical medications include ointments, liquids, sprays, and powders. Creams work well because they stay put on the skin and absorb quickly. Sprays and liquids absorb faster than ointments but may last longer. Powders are great at absorbing fast but often fall off the dog’s ears when applied.
Antibiotics are used to treat infections, and there are different types depending on the type of infection. Antibiotics are most effective when given early in the course of a disease. Home remedies are simple things you can do yourself at home. Some examples include applying ice packs, putting drops of vinegar in water, and bathing your dog.
If your dog suffers from ear hematomas, try these home remedies:
- First, apply ice packs to the affected area for 10 minutes thrice daily. This helps reduce swelling and pain.
- Use a cotton ball soaked in warm water to clean out the ear canal. Do this once daily until the problem resolves.
- Dip a Q-tip in hydrogen peroxide and gently wipe away excess wax buildup inside the ear canal. Repeat every two weeks.
- Place some petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) inside the ear canal. Leave it there overnight. Remove it in the morning and repeat it twice weekly.
- Clean the ear canal with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Repeat every week.
- Mix baking soda and cornstarch and apply them to the ear canal. Wait 20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Repeat every two weeks until the problem disappears.
- Rub a mixture of 1/8 teaspoon each of vitamin E oil, olive oil, and coconut oil onto the ear canal. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then wash it with warm water. Repeat every two weeks for maximum effectiveness.
- Put drops of tea tree oil directly into the ear canal. Allow them to stay for 15 minutes, then flush them with warm water. Repeat twice weekly.
- Make a paste of aloe vera gel and white vinegar. Gently rub the paste into the ear canal. Rinse after five minutes. Repeat twice weekly.
Recovery and Prevention of Ear Hematomas in Dogs
Hematomas usually heal within three weeks, depending on the severity of the injury. If left untreated, however, they can become infected and cause permanent damage to the ear.
Preventing ear hematomas in puppies is simple. First, keep them away from sharp objects, including toys and furniture. Use soft surfaces, such as carpeted floors, when playing. And keep them out of areas where they may be exposed to water.
To treat an existing hematoma, apply antibiotic ointment and cover the affected area with gauze soaked in warm water. Keep your dog calm and quiet during the procedure. Do not let him lick his paw or scratch himself because this could lead to a cauliflower ear infection. Afterward, use an e-collar to protect the wound.
If you suspect your dog has an ear hematoma, immediately take him to the veterinarian. Several treatment options are available, including antibiotics, oral steroids, and surgical hematoma removal.
Frequently Asked Questions
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