Ask Seth: Hematoma in Dogs

My dog shakes his head a lot and now his left ear is puffy like a pillow. What is wrong with him? What should I do? Jake from New Jersey

It sound like an aural hematoma, which occurs when the dog shakes his head and ruptures a blood vessel and the ear (pinna) fills with fluid creating a pillow-like pocket. These are common in floppy eared dogs and can even occur in cats. The cause of the shaking of the ears can be allergies or an ear infection. It is important to resolve any potential causes to the head shaking to treat the canine hematoma. Once the bleeding continues in the fluid filled pocket, it will most likely cause the dog to shake even more. In some cases the pocket can get so large that it blocks the opening to the ears or even ruptures and sprays blood all over since the dog continues to shake his head.

A visit to your veterinarian to determine a treatment plan will be well worth it. Many owners think that if you just aspirate the pocket and drain the fluid, it will be resolved. This usually has a rebound effect. When you remove the fluid from the ear, the vessel continues to fill up the dead space with more fluid. Your veterinarian will discuss with you surgical options that will be best to resolve this issue. They will also begin treatment for the head shaking as the same time. The hematoma will most likely require surgical repair, and usually become a little thicker than the other ear due to scar tissue formation.

Do you have experience with hematoma in dogs? What was the treatment? Share your story in the comment section!

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