An ear hematoma is an uncomfortable swelling in or around your dog's ear. Today, our Perry vets explain what an ear hematoma is and the different reasons why surgery may be the best option for your pup.
What is an Ear Hematoma?
An aural hematoma is when trauma or injury causes the small blood vessels inside your dog's pinnae (the little bones on either side of their ear) to break and leak internally, resulting in an uncomfortable swelling. It is usually more common in dogs with floppy ears, but all dogs have a chance to develop an aural hematoma.
The Importance of Treating a Hematoma
The preferred method of treatment involves surgery to correct aural hematomas. The procedure is usually best because it can provide permanent solutions and prevents scars from forming on the ear. The chances of a hematoma returning if it is been treated by surgery are very slim.
If an underlying cause of the ear problem is found, such as an infection or allergy. it will also be treated. In most cases, vets need to treat what's causing that initial issue. Luckily, the underlying issue is almost always an infection or allergy, both of which are very easily treatable.
What is an Aural Hematoma Procedure Like?
Surgery for an aural hematoma involves a small incision to open and then drain the blood. After that, many small sutures (stitches) are placed to close it up again. A surgical drain may be put in place if necessary so that there's no more pooling of the blood and to promote drainage. Finally, the pinna is supported by a bandage or other material to minimize further damage and promote healing.
It should be noted that, while you can simply drain a hematoma without surgery, it's not always the best solution.
If your pet has a mild/small hematoma, or if surgery is not an option for you and them (they may have problems handling anesthesia, for example), then their veterinarian might try draining the swelling via a large needle. But this isn't ideal because most aural hematomas come back if they haven't been surgically removed. It's possible that swelling could even return within 24 hours!
Further, if blood clots are already present inside the blood pocket, it will be difficult — maybe even impossible — for your vet to remove the swelling via a needle.
How Much Does Dog Ear Hematoma Surgery Cost?
Like most procedures, several different factors determine cost. These factors usually have to do with the severity of the hematoma, but can also include things like the severity of the underlying issues and your dog's ability to handle anesthesia. If surgery isn't a possibility because anesthesia isn't an option, frequent trips to drain the hematoma are likely to result.
At Perry Animal Hospital, we'll consult all options with you and provide a good-faith estimate as to what a procedure, no matter what you choose, will cost.
What to Expect After Dog Ear Hematoma Surgery
Recovery for a dog who's had ear hematoma surgery isn't bad, and most dogs will be back to their head-shaking selves within two weeks.
While your pup may be sore for the first few days following surgery, your vet will give you pet-friendly medications and inflammation medicine to help. They will also provide antibiotics if needed.
Drainage tubes or bandages may be removed after 3-14 days. In severe cases, some or all of the sutures may remain in place for up to two weeks longer if needed. Your veterinarian will prescribe medication as necessary before removal is complete so that an infection doesn't develop during this time.
Your vet will also let you know how to monitor and care for your pet while at home, and when it's time to come back for rechecks and to make sure everything is healing properly. If some discharge does occur.
Lastly, you'll also receive an Elizabethan collar for your dog. This will prevent them from ear scratching, reducing the risk of inflammation bleeding, or accidentally removing their sutures too soon! And most pets have a bandage on their head to help protect and place gentle pressure.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.