Treating dogs with ear hematomas

A  soft, balloon-like swelling of the ear flaps is known as an ear hematoma

One of the more common ear questions I get over the many years of answering pet questions, particularly in dogs, is when animal guardians report a swelling of one or more outer ear flaps in their dogs, and less frequently in cats. The history on such cases can be variable, from pets with a history of ear infections and shaking their heads and itching their ears a lot, to pets with no symptoms at all.

The most common diagnosis of this soft, balloon-like swelling of the ear flaps in our pets is what is known as an ear hematoma. This is usually due to a broken blood vessel in the ear flap. While the condition can look unsightly and certainly enlarge the ear flap considerably, this is not a health threatening or emergency situation in our pets the majority of the time. While many animal guardians and some vets will request and/or try draining the swelling with a needle, unfortunately that technique is highly unsuccessful in most cases, and the swelling usually quickly returns.

If the pet is not bothered by the swellings, often with time and patience the swelling will go down on its own, with the ear usually healing with a slight crease on the ear flap. However, if the pet is extremely bothered by the swelling, and/or the swelling persists or enlarges, then the treatment of choice is surgical drainage under anesthesia by a veterinary surgeon. There are many different surgical techniques that are used, and most of them are successful, although on rare occasion the ear hematomas can recur.

It is of course important in these cases to treat any secondary ear infections of the ear canals with appropriate medications prescribed by your veterinarian, and to treat underlying causes of chronic ear problems such as inhalant/contact allergies and/or food allergies, or the recurrent ear infections and/or ear hematomas can recur.

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22 Comments

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  2. Delores BorchardtApril 3, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Do you carry Panalog, Gentizol or Malotic? My dog had a Hemotoma on both ears, and a very bad inner ear infection. He went deaf in boith ears. The vet said he would never hear again, but we prayed about it and he got his hearing back. He could hear for almost a year. I think he has another ear infection and I started him on some meds, Malotic. He also lost his hearing again. He is 13 yrs old. I need to know what one of these drugs cost and shipping costs. Thank you, Dee Borchardt

  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 3, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I would ask 1800petmeds pharmarcist about costs, etc and availability of malotic. I would try zymox otic HC for natural control of ear infections.

  4. Mary Ellen ManningApril 8, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Our 10 yr old Cocker Spaniel has ‘stinky ears’ and when I clean her ears I keep getting lots of ‘brown junk’ on the cotton ball. Seems like there is no help for her. Our vet has tried all sorts of remedies – ear cleaners, drops, etc. – but no change. He says there is NO CURE for this condition…I saw \Zymox Otic with hydrocortisone\ advertised on your web site. Her ears are slightly inflamed also. Is this product something we should try, or would you have any other suggestions??? Thank you for your help. M.E. Manning

  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 8, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    I would try a low allergy novel protein diet for a few months to see if that can help. Also have your vet check thyroid as well. As for zymox otic HC it is great product to try in ears like this. Let us know how it works for you. I would use it twice daily for 2 weeks at least, then 3 to 4 times weekly as maintenance.

  6. Good morning, my black lab has a hemotoma on her left ear. I can not afford the surgery. i wasnt sure how long they took to heal or what i could give her for them. Thank you for your help.

  7. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Sometmes can takes weeks or even a few months to heal. Best treated with surgical drainage at vet. However you can try homeopathic remedy belladona from health food store in 30c potency one pellot twice daily for 5 days.

  8. Hello i too have this problem Except it is hemotoma on the right ear of my pit bull i cant afford the cost of vet so i ordered this belladona Just want to make sure i do evrything right… how exactly should i give it to him and how many hours in between pellets

  9. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    You can try one pellot of belladona 30c potency twice daily for 3-4 days only. …..This remedy may work if hematoma is acute/sudden onset; not for long standing ones , where more individualized long term chronic homeopathic treatment would be needed.

  10. what do u recommend if long term treatment is needed

  11. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 22, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    If long term treatment needed options would be either surgical drainage at local vet or working with a veterinary classical homeopath on trying to resolve it over several weeks with individually prescribed homeopathic remedies based on a patients totality of symptoms. To learn more about this system of medicine see http://www.beyondflatearth.com as well as my website http://www.canineworld.com/drdym as many homeopathic vets do offer phone consults for this type of work. Other option would be to wait, as some dogs will have hematoma slowly go down over several months, but this may be accompanied by alot of head shaking, etc

  12. my pet has a spindle cell tumor. it is not bothering him and has seemed to go down now that the vet has taken a sample is this normal.

  13. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Some tumors will fluctuate in size on their own. I would discuss with your vet whether surgical removal of spindle cell tumor is needed.

  14. Hi…. I recently bought a blue doberman puppy bout 18 weeks old or so he has they small grey bumps on his head and some on his body.. whats do you think this is and what can i do about this…thank you

  15. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 30, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Could be bacterial infection or possibly mange mites. Best to take puppy to vet for exam, skin scrape and diagnosis for best treatment.

  16. My 6 yr old chajuajua has a “severe” ear infection and I don’t know what to do for her. She alway’s has had ear issue’s and possible allergy from something because her hair felll out along time ago. I took her to the vet last year for skin scrape and they did not find mites but could not telll me what was wrong with her. She has scratched her ear so much that it’s closed up from the swelling and has discharge leaking out. I don’t want to put anything in them until I know it will not do more damage. What can I do in my case?

  17. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I would try zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds. If no help then see vet for exam and ear culture in case resistant bacteria causing the problem.

  18. my precious cockerpoo, was diagnosed with ear hematoma
    is their any medication. He is 22lbs. and is 5 years old.
    desperately looking for help!!!! cannot afford surgery at this time. This is his 3rd day of aggrevation. 🙁

  19. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 16, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Try the homeopathic remedy belladona in 30c potency 1 pellot twice daily for 2 to 3 days(can get from whole foods or other holistic oriented pharmacies), then change to the homeopathic remedy Millefolium in 30c potency at same frequency for a few days to see if this helps resolve swelling. Can get Millefolium from homeopathic pharmacy like homeopathy overnight on line. That is my best suggestion if surgery not possible.

  20. Thank you, for your sugguestion. I will try, and follow-up with you to let you know the outcome.

    Again, thank you.

  21. Gentizol cause my dog to go deaf and he has never regained his hearing.
    Why do they put drugs for dogs ears on market which cause deafness….it is one of the side effects listed.

  22. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 20, 2013 at 1:09 am

    Sorry to hear about your dog’s deafness from the medication. Usually the hearing comes back over time in most cases.

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