Ear hematomas are one of the more common ear problems seen by veterinarians. These hematomas are very painful and if not treated correctly can result with a permanent deformation of the ear. There is usually an underlying medical condition that causes an animal to traumatize his ear resulting in a hematoma. Ear hematomas, medically known as ‘aural hematomas’ are a collection of blood and fluid between the skin and cartilage of the ear. A blood vessel in the ear ruptures and the loose space under the skin will fill up with blood. The pressure from the ruptured vessel will often cause the entire surface of the ear to swell creating a very painful condition. These hematomas will occur very quickly, often within minutes of the vessel being ruptured. Affected animals will have a noticeably swollen, fluid-filled ear that is extremely painful to the touch. If left untreated, the pain will subside somewhat after several days, but the swelling will continue and eventually, as the fluid-filled space generates scar tissue the ear may become permanently disfigured.
Any dog or cat of any age can develop an ear hematoma, although they are more common in dogs, especially those with ear flaps which hang down such as Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. Animals with chronic ear infections, ear mites, or allergies that cause the ears to itch are at the greatest risk of developing an ear hematoma. Animals will scratch their ears or shake their head if their ears are itchy or painful, which can result in a ruptured blood vessel. Dogs that fight frequently or run through heavy brush are also at risk of injuring their ears and developing a hematoma.
If you see your pet shaking their head make an appointment to have them seen right away, they will be glad you did, an so will you!!