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Aural Hematoma in Dogs

Updated on July 11, 2010


Your dog is prone to having itchy ears and therefore, he/she tends to scratch at them insistently during the day. As annoying as this behavior may be, not many owners are aware of the fact that the constant head shaking and scratching may cause a condition in dogs not very well known by the average owners, called Aural Hematoma.

"Aural" is a word that stands for "ear" and "hematoma" often refers to "swelling". Put the words together and you will get "swelling of the ear", a very accurate description of what your dog will exhibit after spending some time with itchy, painfully irritated ears.

Dogs affected by Aural Hematoma cannot be mis-diagnosed. They exhibit some typical symptoms that cannot be confused with any other conditions other than ear abscesses. However, draining the ear flap will clearly differentiate the two. The following are the key symptoms of Aural Hematoma:

• A swollen ear flap

• Head tilted to the side

• Painful ear

• Constant head shaking

• Constant ear scratching

• Pawing at the ear

An aural hematoma develops when the vigorous head shaking and scratching causes the ear flap's blood vessels to rupture causing the ear to quickly fill up with blood and swell like a big marshmallow. The ear may be brought back to a normal state by having your veterinarian insert a small cannula in the ear flap with the purpose of draining the excessive blood. Mild sedation may be required during this procedure. In some cases, the ear flap may need to be cut open and drained.

Any case of Aural Hematoma requires the underlying cause to be addressed. Constant itching and scratching along with annoying head shaking suggests something is wrong with the dog's ears. Often the underying causes are allergies, foreign bodies in the ear, yeast infections and bacterial infections.

While some cases of Aural Hematoma may eventually heal on their own, refraining from treatment is highly discouraged due to the fact that neglecting an Aural Hematoma may result in unsightly scarring. Neglected cases may cause cosmetic issues where the ear may heal improperly and assume a typical "cauliflower appearance" that may become permanent.

Aural Hematoma is a condition that must not be ignored. It ultimately consists of two problems; getting rid of the swelling and getting rid of the underlying cause of the swelling. If your dog is exhibiting itchy ears, keep in mind this potential complication, taking care of the itchiness in the first place will prevent more elaborate and costly interventions from your vet.


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