What is an aural hematoma?
An aural hematoma (ear hematoma) is a collection of blood between the skin and the cartilage of an animal’s ear.
Usually, it is caused by scratching of the ear that is too aggressive or a head shake. Both dogs and cats can suffer from ear hematomas, but dogs are more prone.
Treatment for ear hematomas can vary depending on the severity, from draining the blood with a needle to surgical correction.
What are the most common causes of aural hematomas?
Dogs with long floppy ears are more prone to developing an aural hematoma just because they have more ear surface. Vigorous shaking of the head, head bumping, excessive scratching or even fights with another dog can cause damage to the blood vessels in the ear and collection of blood between the skin and the cartilage.
A very common cause for aural hematomas in dogs with small or non-floppy ears can be ear mites ( Otodectes cynotis). These tiny little parasites can cause so much itching that the dog can damage the blood vessels in the ear and cause an aural hematoma.
What is the treatment of an aural hematoma?
If the collection of blood between the skin of the ear and its cartilage is very little it is possible to be treated with conventional therapy and a simple needle drain. But, 9 out of 10 aural hematomas are treated surgically. It is very important when it comes to aural hematomas to be treated as soon as possible because it may cause a permanent disfigurement of the ear.
The surgical techniques used for treating aural hematomas can vary between veterinarians, but in general, there are some basic steps everybody follows.
The skin of the ear is incised in order to remove all the blood that has been collected inside along with all blood clots. When all blood is removed, the dead space (the empty space where the blood was) is removed by placing sutures or buttons through the whole ear. This is done in order to ensure a controlled scar tissue formation and reattaching the ear cartilage to the skin. In some cases, a surgical drain might be placed. In the end, the ear is tightly bandaged against the head in order to promote healing.
It is very important to find the underlying cause of aural hematoma. If it is a simple injury from rough playing then there is no ore you can do, but if the cause for excessive scratching is something like allergies, ear mites or a foreign body then these conditions must be treated as well.
Home care after the surgery
The treatment takes anywhere between a few days to weeks. Supportive care and a complete dosage will lead to a speedy and successful recovery. You have to administer and monitor all prescribed medicines as directed by your veterinarian. If you observe any behavioral changes or if the condition does not improve, please contact your veterinarian immediately.
Provide a stress-free environment for your pet. Keep water and food bowls within reach, avoid exercise and physical activity, keep away from the noise and any kind of commotion. Do not travel with pets. › Routine and regular checkups to access the progress (for fluid drainage, ear cleaning, medications)
In the video below you can see a surgical technique for treating an aural hematoma.
If you want to learn more about ear injuries, read “Caring for pet’s ears during injuries” on our blog.