Ear Hematoma in Dogs: Care Guide & Treatment Options for this Painful Condition

By: Danielle Harris

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ear hematoma in dogs

Did you know that ear hematoma is a common condition affecting dogs’ ears, with an estimated 20% of dogs experiencing it at some point in their lives?

This condition occurs when blood accumulates between the skin and cartilage of the ear, leading to pain, swelling, and discomfort for our furry friends. It’s crucial for dog owners to understand the causes and treatment options for ear hematomas to ensure their pets receive proper care.

Ear hematomas can be caused by underlying ear diseases such as infections or infestations like ear mites. These conditions can cause dogs to scratch or shake their heads vigorously, leading to trauma and subsequent blood accumulation in the ear.

Veterinary dermatology plays a vital role in diagnosing and treating ear hematomas, offering various options ranging from medication to surgical intervention.

Stay tuned for valuable insights on how to identify and manage this common canine ailment effectively.

Table of Contents – Ear hematoma in dogs

Understanding the Causes and Symptoms

Trauma or injury to the ear can cause hematoma formation

One of the common causes of ear hematomas in dogs is trauma or injury to the ear.

When a dog’s ear gets hit or bumped, it can lead to blood vessels bursting inside the ear flap, resulting in a buildup of blood and fluid. This accumulation causes swelling and discomfort for your furry friend.

One of our clients and greatest friend had a dog (Poppy) develop a hematoma after her new puppy Ziggy had been biting her ear.

Frequent shaking of the head is a common symptom

If you notice your dog shaking their head frequently, it could be a sign of an ear hematoma. The excessive shaking is often their way of trying to relieve the discomfort caused by the swelling in their ear. It’s important not to ignore this symptom as it may indicate an underlying issue that needs attention.

Ear infections can contribute to hematoma development

Ear infections are another factor that can contribute to the development of an ear hematoma in dogs. Infections can cause inflammation and irritation within the ear, leading to increased scratching and discomfort for your pet. The constant scratching can further damage blood vessels, resulting in a hematoma.

Certain breeds may be more prone to ear hematomas in dogs

While any dog breed can develop an ear hematoma, some breeds may be more prone to this condition due to their floppy ears or predisposition to allergies. Breeds such as Doberman, Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, and Basset Hounds are examples of breeds that commonly experience ear hematomas. However, it’s important to note that any dog can develop this condition regardless of their breed.

Diagnosis involves examination and identifying underlying issues

To diagnose an ear hematoma in your dog, a veterinarian will examine your pet’s ears thoroughly. They will look for signs of swelling, redness, and pain. They may use diagnostic tools such as otoscopes or take samples from inside the ears for further analysis if there are signs of infection. Identifying the underlying cause of the hematoma is crucial for effective treatment.

ear hematoma in dogs
Ear Hematoma in dogs

Treatment options aim to address the underlying cause and relieve pain of ear hematoma in dogs

Treating an ear hematoma involves addressing both the underlying cause and providing relief from discomfort. Depending on the severity of the hematoma, treatment options may include:

  • Drainage: The veterinarian may drain the accumulated blood and fluid from the ear using a needle or through surgery.
  • Medication: Antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to treat any underlying infections or reduce swelling.
  • E-collar: Your dog may need to wear an Elizabethan collar (also known as an e-collar) to prevent them from scratching or further injuring their ears during the healing process.

Prevention measures can help reduce the risk of ear hematoma in dogs

While not all cases of ear hematomas can be prevented, there are some measures you can take to reduce the risk:

  • Regular ear cleaning: Keeping your dog’s ears clean and free from debris can help prevent infections that may contribute to hematoma formation.
  • Treating allergies: If your dog has allergies, work with your veterinarian to manage them effectively, as allergies can increase the likelihood of developing ear hematomas.
  • Avoiding trauma: Take precautions to minimize trauma or injury to your dog’s ears. Be mindful during playtime and avoid situations where their ears could get bumped or injured.

Understanding the causes and symptoms of ear hematomas in dogs is essential for early detection and prompt treatment. By recognizing these signs, seeking veterinary care, and taking preventive measures, you can ensure your furry friend’s comfort and well-being.

Diagnostic Approaches for Ear Hematoma in dogs

To accurately diagnose ear hematomas in dogs, several diagnostic approaches are commonly employed. These methods help veterinarians determine the underlying cause of the hematoma and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Let’s explore these diagnostic approaches in detail:

Physical Examination of the Affected Ear is Crucial

When a dog presents with an ear hematoma, a thorough physical examination of the affected ear is crucial. The veterinarian will carefully inspect the ear for any signs of trauma, inflammation, or infection. They will check for redness, swelling, discharge, and pain. By visually examining the ear, they can gather important clues about the possible cause of the hematoma.

Aspiration of Fluid from the Ear Hematoma in Dogs May be Performed

Another diagnostic approach involves aspirating fluid from the hematoma. This procedure involves using a needle and syringe to withdraw fluid from within the swollen area. By analyzing this fluid sample, veterinarians can determine if it contains blood or other substances that may provide insight into the underlying cause of the hematoma.

X-rays or Ultrasounds Can Help Determine Underlying Causes of Ear Hematoma in dogs

In some cases, X-rays or ultrasounds may be recommended to further investigate ear hematomas. These imaging techniques allow veterinarians to visualize structures within and around the ear more closely. X-rays can help detect fractures or foreign objects that may have contributed to the hematoma formation. Ultrasounds can provide detailed images of soft tissues and blood vessels, aiding in identifying any abnormalities.

Veterinary Consultation is Necessary for Accurate Diagnosis of Ear Hematoma in Dogs

Diagnosing an ear hematoma in dogs requires expertise and knowledge in veterinary medicine. Therefore, seeking a veterinary consultation is essential for an accurate diagnosis. Veterinarians have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating various conditions affecting dogs’ ears. They can interpret clinical signs, perform necessary tests or procedures, and provide guidance based on their findings.

By combining the information gathered from physical examination, aspiration of fluid, and imaging techniques, veterinarians can make a comprehensive diagnosis. This allows them to identify the underlying cause of the ear hematoma, such as ear infections (otitis), ear irritation, or damage to blood vessels.

It’s important to remember that each dog is unique, and the diagnostic approach may vary depending on individual circumstances. Your veterinarian will tailor the diagnostic process to suit your dog’s specific needs.

Treatment Options for Ear Hematoma in dogs

Small hematomas in dogs’ ears can sometimes resolve on their own over time. However, if the hematoma is causing discomfort or affecting your dog’s quality of life, it may require treatment. Here are some common treatment options for dog ear hematomas:

Drainage or Aspiration of Fluid

One option for treating a dog ear hematoma is to drain or aspirate the fluid that has accumulated. This procedure involves using a needle and syringe to remove the fluid from the hematoma. By relieving the pressure caused by the buildup of blood, drainage or aspiration can help promote healing and reduce swelling.


In addition to drainage or aspiration, your veterinarian may prescribe medications to help manage the symptoms associated with an ear hematoma. Antibiotics may be prescribed if there is an infection present or a risk of infection due to open wounds caused by scratching or head shaking. Anti-inflammatories can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain in the affected ear.

E-collar Usage

To prevent further trauma and irritation to the affected ear, it’s important to use an Elizabethan collar (commonly known as an E-collar) on your dog during the healing process. An E-collar prevents your dog from scratching, biting, or rubbing their ears excessively, which could worsen the hematoma and delay healing.

Follow-up Care

After initial treatment, it’s crucial to follow up with your veterinarian for ongoing care and monitoring of your dog’s progress. They will assess how well the hematoma is healing and determine if any additional treatments are necessary. They may also provide guidance on proper cleaning techniques for your dog’s ears and recommend any necessary lifestyle changes to minimize future occurrences.

While these treatment options can be effective in managing ear hematomas in dogs, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian before attempting any home remedies or treatments on your own. They have the expertise and knowledge to provide appropriate care for your dog’s specific condition.

Surgical Management and Recovery Process

Surgery might be required for large or chronic hematomas. When the hematoma is significant or has not responded to other treatments, surgical intervention becomes necessary. The procedure involves removing the accumulated blood clots and suturing the incision site.

Surgery for Large or Chronic Ear Hematoma in dogs

In cases where the hematoma is too large or has been present for an extended period, surgery offers a more effective solution. This option ensures that all the accumulated blood is drained properly, preventing further complications and promoting faster healing.

Removing Blood Clots and Suturing

During surgery, your veterinarian will make a small incision in the affected ear to access the hematoma. Under anesthesia, they will carefully drain the accumulated blood clots from within the ear flap. Once drained, they will suture the incision site to close it up.

Post-Surgery Care

After surgical drainage of the hematoma, proper post-surgery care is crucial for successful recovery. Your dog’s ear may be bandaged to protect the incision site and promote healing. It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding bandage changes and keeping it clean.

Pain Management and Monitoring

Pain management is essential during your dog’s recovery process. Your veterinarian may prescribe pain medication to keep your furry friend comfortable throughout their healing journey. Regular monitoring by both you and your veterinarian is necessary to ensure there are no signs of infection or complications.

Full Recovery Timeline

It’s important to understand that full recovery from an ear hematoma typically takes several weeks with proper aftercare. During this time, you must diligently follow any instructions provided by your veterinarian regarding wound care, medication administration, and activity restrictions.

While every case may vary slightly, here is a general timeline of what you can expect during your dog’s recovery:

  1. Week 1: Your dog may still experience some swelling and discomfort. The bandage may need to be changed regularly, and your veterinarian may recommend the use of a drain to aid in fluid removal.
  2. Week 2: Swelling should start to decrease, and your dog’s ear should begin to look more normal. The bandage may be changed less frequently or removed altogether, depending on the progress of healing.
  3. Weeks 3-4: By this time, most dogs will have fully recovered from their ear hematoma. The incision site should be completely healed, and any lingering swelling or discomfort should have subsided.

Remember that every dog is unique, and their recovery process may vary slightly based on individual factors such as age, overall health, and the severity of the hematoma.

Preparing for Aural Ear Hematoma in dogs Surgery

Before your dog undergoes aural hematoma surgery, there are a few important steps to take in order to ensure a smooth procedure and recovery. Your veterinarian will provide you with pre-operative instructions that you should carefully follow. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Fasting your dog before surgery is usually necessary

In most cases, your dog will need to fast before undergoing aural hematoma surgery. This means no food or water for a certain period of time prior to the procedure. Fasting helps prevent any complications during anesthesia and reduces the risk of vomiting or regurgitation while under sedation.

Inform your vet about any medications your dog is currently taking

It’s crucial to inform your veterinarian about any medications or supplements that your dog may be taking. Certain medications can interfere with the surgical process or increase the risk of bleeding. Your vet will advise you on whether any adjustments need to be made regarding medication administration prior to the surgery.

Discuss potential risks and complications with your vet beforehand

Before proceeding with aural hematoma surgery, it’s essential to have an open discussion with your veterinarian regarding potential risks and complications associated with the procedure. While rare, there is always a small chance of infection, excessive bleeding, or adverse reactions to anesthesia. Being aware of these possibilities allows you to make an informed decision and prepare accordingly.

Consider needle aspiration as an alternative treatment option

In some cases, needle aspiration may be offered as an alternative treatment for aural hematomas. This involves using a needle and syringe to drain the blood from the hematoma without making an incision. Needle aspiration is generally less invasive than surgery but may not be suitable for all cases depending on factors such as size and location of the hematoma.

Understand the importance of post-operative care

After aural hematoma surgery, proper post-operative care plays a vital role in ensuring a successful recovery for your furry friend. Your veterinarian will provide you with detailed instructions on how to care for the surgical site, administer any prescribed medications, and monitor your dog’s progress. It’s important to follow these instructions diligently to minimize the risk of complications and promote healing.

Be prepared for potential recurrence or complications

While aural hematoma surgery is generally effective in treating hematomas, there is a possibility of recurrence or complications. Scar tissue formation, blood clots, or the development of another hematoma may occur in some cases. If you notice any concerning signs or symptoms after the surgery, such as swelling or discharge from the ear, it’s crucial to contact your veterinarian promptly.

By following these guidelines and maintaining open communication with your veterinarian, you can ensure that both you and your dog are well-prepared for aural hematoma surgery. Remember to discuss any concerns or questions you may have with your vet beforehand to alleviate any anxieties and set realistic expectations.

Post-Surgery Care and Contagion Concerns

Proper wound care is essential during the healing process after your dog undergoes aural hematoma surgery. It’s important to keep the surgical site clean and free from infection. This can be achieved by following your vet’s instructions for post-surgery care.

Preventing your dog from scratching or rubbing the affected ear is crucial to ensure proper healing. Your furry friend may feel discomfort or itchiness in the area, which could lead to complications if they continuously disturb the wound. To prevent this, you can use an Elizabethan collar, also known as a “cone of shame,” to restrict their access to the ear.

Contagion concerns are minimal. Unlike some contagious conditions that can spread from one animal to another, ear hematomas are not contagious. They typically occur due to trauma or underlying medical conditions affecting blood vessels in the ear flap (pinna). Therefore, you don’t have to worry about other pets catching this condition from your furry companion.

Regular follow-up visits with your vet may be required after aural hematoma surgery. These visits allow your vet to monitor the healing progress and address any concerns that may arise during the recovery period. They will check for signs of infection, assess how well the incision is healing, and make sure there are no complications.

During these follow-up visits, your vet may recommend additional treatments such as medication or further wound care instructions based on your dog’s specific needs. It’s crucial to attend these appointments as scheduled and communicate any changes or issues you notice regarding your dog’s recovery.

To summarize:

Post-Surgery Care

  • Proper wound care is essential.
  • Prevent scratching or rubbing of the affected ear.
  • Use an Elizabethan collar if necessary.
  • Attend regular follow-up visits with your vet.
  • Communicate any changes or issues observed.

Contagion Concerns

  • Ear hematomas are not contagious.
  • They occur due to trauma or underlying medical conditions.
  • Other pets cannot catch ear hematomas from your dog.

By taking proper care of the surgical site and following your vet’s instructions, you can help ensure a smooth recovery for your furry friend. Remember, post-surgery care is crucial in promoting healing and preventing complications. Stay vigilant and provide the necessary support to aid your dog’s recovery process.

Retired Breeder Poppy – Hematoma developed from past pup Ziggy biting her ear in her forever home.

ear hematoma in dogs
french bulldog wearing a head wrap to avoid shaking and more trauma
Ear hematoma in dogs- Here Poppy is seen wearing a head wrap to avoid additional trauma and promote healing
ear hematoma in dogs
healed hematoma
Ear hematoma in dogs- Hematoma has been healed after surgery, permanent ear crimps or even fallen ears are common.

Don’t worry, they’re still bffs!

ear hematoma in dogs
Ear hematoma in dogs- Forever best buds, inseparable

Prevention and Recovery Strategies

Now that you have a good understanding of the causes, symptoms, diagnostic approaches, treatment options, surgical management, and post-surgery care for dog ear hematomas, it’s time to focus on prevention and recovery strategies. Preventing ear hematomas in dogs starts with regular check-ups and maintaining good ear hygiene. Keep your pup’s ears clean and dry, especially if they are prone to allergies or infections. Regularly inspect their ears for any signs of redness, swelling, or discomfort. If you notice anything unusual, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Recovery from an ear hematoma can be a gradual process. Follow your vet’s instructions carefully and provide a calm and comfortable environment for your furry friend during their recovery period. Remember to administer any prescribed medications as directed and keep an eye on their progress. Your patience and support will play a crucial role in helping them heal effectively.


Can I prevent ear hematoma in dogs?

Preventing ear hematomas in dogs is possible by maintaining good ear hygiene and regularly checking their ears for any signs of infection or irritation. Keep their ears clean and dry, especially if they are prone to allergies or infections.

How long does it take for ear hematoma in dogs to heal?

The healing time for a dog’s ear hematoma can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the chosen treatment method. It usually takes several weeks for the swelling to subside completely.

Will my dog need surgery for an ear hematoma?

Surgery is one of the treatment options for severe cases of ear hematomas where other methods have failed or when there is an underlying cause that needs to be addressed surgically.

What can I do to help my dog recover after surgery?

After surgery, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully regarding medication administration, wound care, activity restrictions, and post-operative check-ups. Provide a calm and comfortable environment for your dog during their recovery period.

Can ear hematomas recur in dogs?

Yes, ear hematomas can recur in dogs, especially if the underlying cause is not addressed or if the dog continues to scratch or shake their head excessively. Regular monitoring and preventive measures can help minimize the risk of recurrence.

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French Bulldog
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