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    Dogs and Ear Hematomas  

The pinna is the ear flap — the part of the ear that either stands up or hangs down. It is made up of two pieces of cartilage and skin. Occasionally, the blood vessels in the ear will break and the space between the two pieces of cartilage fills with blood. The ear looks like a fat little pillow. It is soft when pressed and the ear flap itself is not usually painful.

Several things can cause a hematoma in the ear. Most often an ear infection deep in the canal is an underlying cause. The pet may be rubbing its head or shaking it a lot. This creates trauma to the ear flap as it slaps the top of the skull during shaking.

A hematoma can also occur after grooming a heavily matted dog. Plucking the hair and cleaning the ears can further irritate the ear canal, no matter how carefully it is done. Shaving matted hair off the ears suddenly leaves them feeling very light. Any head shaking now is not protected by the matted ears or head and damage can occur.

Hematomas are often seen in breeds such as Sheepdogs or Poodles who are shaved only once a year.

Other trauma may also cause bleeding in the ear. Any kind of trauma, from a hit on the head to an auto accident, could contribute. A dog fight might also precipitate bleeding in the ear flap.

Hematomas happen most often in breeds with floppy ears but also less commonly in breeds such as German Shepherds. Although not as common in cats, hematomas do occur in the feline population. In cats, they are often a result of an ear mite infection.

This bleeding in the ear can come on very suddenly, sometimes in the matter of a few hours. Hematomas should be evaluated by a veterinarian; in minor cases, only the infection may be treated and the hematoma allowed to be reabsorbed by the body. With large hematomas, surgery is often required to drain the blood clot and the ear flap is sutured to prevent an immediate reoccurrence of the bleeding. Your veterinarian can discuss the best options for your pet. In either case, some shriveling, scarring, and/or deformation of the ear may occur.

The best prevention is to monitor your pet’s ears on a regular basis, looking for signs of infection such as redness, discharge or head rubbing. Your groomer can keep the ears clean and free from excessive hair growing in the canal. Regular grooming can prevent excessive matting that might irritate the ear or contribute to infections.

This article is provided as a general overview of the topic. Always consult your veterinarian for specific information related to diseases or medical care for pets.

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