Seeing an aural haematoma on your dog can be frightening and alarming for the dog’s owners, particularly if the haematoma develops suddenly and with no apparent cause.
A haematoma is a pool of blood and the term “aural” refers to the ears; ergo, an aural haematoma is a pool of blood that collects underneath the skin of the dog’s ear, producing a soft swelling that may be quite large.
Aural haematomas are more common in dogs with long, drooping ears, and also, among dogs that tend to be prone to developing ear infections or infestations of ear mites. However, it is a good idea for all dog owners to learn a little bit about what an aural haematoma is, why they form, and what can be done about them.
In this article, we will explain the basics of aural haematomas in dogs. Read on to learn more.
An aural haematoma is a blood-filled swelling that develops on a dog’s ear, usually on the outer, visible flap of the ear. Aural haematomas develop when there is trauma to the ear, which damages internal blood vessels and capillaries without breaking the skin, causing blood to pool and collect under the skin of the affected area.
Aural haematomas often develop quite quickly, and can become large enough to be noticeable in short order. Often, a dog with an aural haematoma will appear to be fine one day, but have a noticeable swelling appear on one of their ears the next day, or even within just a few hours.
Aural haematomas in dogs almost always develop as the result of some kind of trauma or damage to the ear, which is why dogs that have long floppy ears and/or dogs that tend to suffer from ear mites or recurrent ear infections are most likely to develop them.
This is because long, flat and drooping ears are more at risk of damage and injury than short, pointed ears, and because dogs with itchy, painful or irritated ears (as can be caused by infections or mite infestations) are more likely to bother at their ears and risk causing damage.
Excessive scratching or rubbing of the ears, vigorous head shaking and knocks, bumps or impacts caused in play can all lead to the development of an aural haematoma.
Some allergenic skin conditions can also cause the dog to scratch their ears to the point of causing damage, and even vigorous play with another dog can cause a minor ear injury that can develop into a haematoma too.
Aural haematomas in dogs are usually obvious and easy to spot; even if you are not completely sure what you are looking at, the fact that something is amiss is usually self-evident.
Ear haematomas in dogs present as a swelling on the dog’s ear flap, and this can range is size from very small (around the size of a pea) to large enough to be very obvious and cover much of the dog’s ear flap. The swelling will usually be somewhat soft and able to be pressed and manipulated, but in some cases, it may feel hard to the touch instead.
A veterinary check-up, which may involve your vet using a syringe to draw a little of the fluid from the swelling of the ear to ensure that it is blood rather than pus or something else, will usually diagnose an aural haematoma in short order.
However, your vet will also probably want to find out why your dog developed an aural haematoma in the first place, and so they will also investigate the causes, looking at things such as allergies, ear mites, or problems with the ears that make the more sensitive to damage of this type.
Aural haematomas will sometimes drain and go away on their own without treatment, although they are often painful during this time and can also cause thickening and scarring of the ear flap itself. This means that aural haematomas are generally treated unless they are very small and innocuous, and not bothering the dog at all.
Due to this, your vet may recommend a minor surgery to drain the blood and fluids off, and repair the incision made to achieve this so that the dog’s ear heals normally and does not scar. Dogs with long ears may need to have the affected ear bandaged to their heads to prevent further injury during the healing process, and a buster collar is usually required for all dogs to stop them from scratching the ear too.
An alternative approach for smaller haematomas is to drain them by making a small incision in the ear and inserting a drainage tube or channel, which is removed when the ear is restored to normal shape and size. However, not all dogs are very tolerant of this, and so this approach is only used within certain specific situations.