Dog Blood Behind Ear

" Dog Blood behind Ear is generally called a "dog ear hematoma". or medically an “Auricular Hematoma”. The exact cause of blood behind the ear cannot be specified with several possible causes including extensive head shaking, pruritus (itch), self-injury or trauma. Flea infestation and bacterial dermatitis are the two most common causes, in which the dog shakes its head due to pruritus (severe itch) and when they cause self-injury, the blood vessel may rupture and cause the accumulation of blood in between the skin and ear cartilage. Dogs with atopy (allergy), food allergy or flea infestations are more susceptible to this condition. Diagnosis is usually made upon clinical palpation (touching the ear) and signs of severe pain, swelling and progressive illness. Surgical drainage is considered to be the most effective way to treat an ear hematoma, with the use of glucocorticoids highly recommended. "

Cause of Dog Blood behind Ear:

Canine auricular hematoma or dog ear hematoma is small or large swelling which may appears as a blister on the concave surface of dog’s pinnae (ear). It mostly contains blood and intracellular fluids.

When a blood vessel in the ear ruptures it causes blood to flow down into the loose space between the ear skin and cartilage. It looks like a blister, which is painful to the dog, and is warm when palpitated (when touched).

A dog ear hematoma has multiple potential causes, but the mechanical cause is the extensive shaking of the head due to pruritus (itching). A dog may scratch its ear violently, causing self injury or trauma, which may cause the blood vessel to rupture and eventually, blood accumulates behind the ear.

This condition is more common in dogs with flea infestation, atopy, chronic ear infections or canine food allergy. Similarly, dogs, which are aggressive and fight more or run through bushes, may also suffer from canine ear hematoma.

Signs and Symptoms of Dog Blood behind Ear:

A dog ear hematoma or blister containing blood and fluids may appear within minutes of a blood vessel rupture. Small or large swellings can be noted on and behind the surface of the ear. The size may differ depending upon the amount of the blood hemorrhage and a dog's ear size. Dogs with a flap shape or with ears that are dropped are more at risk such as Retrievers and Labradors.

On clinical examination, a dog may respond aggressively, might not allow touching of the ear and therefore should be restrained properly before examination. Characteristics include a red swollen area, palpitation which is warm to the touch and painful.

Treatment of Dog Blood behind Ear:

Surgical drainage of swelling is the most effective way to treat an ear hematoma. One or more surgical incisions parallel to the length of the ear may help to encourage and complete drainage. After complete drainage, several mattress sutures are usually used to eliminate the remaining pocket. In some severe cases, drainage via teat tube or soft catheter will help in ensuring a successful surgery.

Using sutures can sometime permanently disfigure the dog’s ear, an important factor in show dogs. In such cases, instead of mattress sutures, incisions are left open without sutures and a roll bandage taping is applied, though the process of healing will be delayed, but the benefit is that the ear will not be disfigured.

In addition, extra post surgical care is needed in open dog ear wound cases. Drugs like glucocorticoids are highly recommended, these may be used topically or orally, which ever your veterinarian prescribes. Similarly, local antibiotics, such as neomycin can help in preventing bacterial infections at the site of the wound.

Any underlying cause, such as allergies or a mite infestation should be treated systematically, with recurrence of condition often prevented by improving care and with several training techniques.


The Merck Veterinary Manual

K. Fedrek. Indications of Small Animal Surgery (California Press. 1997)

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