Ear Hematomas In Dogs

If you have ever noticed that your dogs ear flaps are swollen this is most likely a hematoma.

This is when blood vessels burst inside the ear flap and it can swell quite profusely and be painful to your dog.

This is often a result of a dog that scratches often from mites or allergies, or a dog that shakes there head all the time from mites or allergies.

It can also be a result of trauma to the ear flap.  A dog shakes their head and the ear keeps hitting an object – the coffee table in front of the couch for example.

I have dealt with this only twice and in both cases have no idea where it came from becuase the above reasons did not come into play with my girls.

The first time was many years ago and my Labrador, Abbey, was put on oral steroids which did the job.

However, I have learned over the years that oral steroids are really not good for our dogs (or humans either).

I recently had to deal with a hematoma for my Lab, Miya.  Because she has had liver issues in the past she is not a candidate for oral steroids (or injectible).

So I had the vet drain the blood from the ear only to have to return 2 days later and have it drained again.

If given time often the hematoma will go away untreated as the body resorps the blood but that can take quite a while and as a result the ear can end up deformed (colliflower ear).

I opted to have a steroid injection directly into the ear (this is much less invasive in the body than oral steroids).  I will go back for a blood draw to be sure it did not effect her liver enzymes.  If so, she will go back on natural supplements to bring her liver back in normal range.  I just pray that will not be necessary because I have had her liver in normal range since Dec. of 2009.

I also use an ice pack daily on the ear (Miya is so good laying on the couch for 5-10 min. for the icing and not moving until I tell her she can – she is such a good patient).

I also give her Arnica for any pain and for the inflammation.  You can buy Arnica at your local GNC.  I buy the tablets and dissolve 3 tablets in 10cc’s of spring water (I have a well so I boil water and let it cool and use that).  I put the water in an eye dropper bottle and give one eye dropper 2x/day.

She did get some swelling back (but minimal) since her last (second) needle draining at the vet and is holding her own without needing further draining.

Severe cases of hematomas may requiere surgery.  My vet says it is one of the worst surgeries he has had to perform.


I have been lucky that the steroid injection seems to have worked and now wait it out praying her liver will still be in normal range and the hematoma will not get worse – avoiding oral steroids, as that would be my next step to avoid surgery.