An ear infection can quickly evolve from an uncomfortable itch into an aural hematoma, as quick as a head a head shake. That’s why it’s important to address ear irritation as soon as it’s recognized.
An aural hemotoma is a collection of blood (blood blister) between the ear cartilage and the skin. It usually a self-inflicted wound, resulting from aggressive head shaking and/or scratching. Of course, headshaking and scratching may be a by-product of a much more serious issue, such as otitis externa (an infection of the external ear canal).
Dogs with long, floppy ears are at greater risk for developing ear hematomas, due to their higher risk of ear infections, but pets with clotting or bleeding disorders may also develop hematomas, with or without a history of trauma.
Ear hematomas occur when a blood vessel in the ear bursts and bleeds into the space between the ear cartilage and skin. This is most commonly associated with trauma such as scratching, shaking the ears, or bite wounds. Dogs with ear infections may violently shake their head or scratch their ears causing an aural hematoma. In some cases, there may be a piece of foreign material lodged in the ear canal, such as a tick or piece of grass. It is also possible that a foreign body initiated the shaking but was later dislodged.
Sources of irritation to the ear linked to the development of an aural hematoma include:
Dogs with long, floppy ears are at greater risk for developing ear hematomas. Pets with clotting or bleeding disorders may also develop hematomas, with or without a history of trauma.
The hematoma must be treated as soon as possible or permanent disfigurement may result. After examination, your veterinarian will recommend the most appropriate surgical procedure, to correct it.