If your dog's ear flap (pinna) looks swollen, it may be a sign of an ear hematoma. An ear hematoma is the collection of blood in-between the cartilage and the skin of the ear flap. This happens when a blood vessel in the ear bursts due to trauma or excessive scratching. Dogs with long, floppy ears are especially vulnerable to aural (ear) hematomas.

An ear hematoma can be very painful for the dog. If left untreated, the ear can also diminish in size and turn a purple colour.

Usually, a medical condition such as an outer ear infection (otitis externa) in dogs is the cause of a hematoma. So, your vet may recommend a few tests to find the underlying cause while treating the hematoma. Less frequently, immune disorders, clotting disorders, and hormonal issues in dogs can cause hematomas as well.

Treatments for an ear hematoma may vary, depending on the severity of the swelling. One treatment option is to make an incision in the swollen area to let the fluid drain out. This is usually insufficient, as the fluid can accumulate again. The dog will have to be taken to the vet multiple times if this intervention is chosen.

Another treatment option is to give the dog anaesthesia. Make the incision and place a surgical drain in the ear to absorb the fluids - the drain is removed by a surgeon after a few weeks, once the fluid has drained. Yet another technique involves putting sutures (stitches) in the area to prevent fluid accumulation. The surgeon may remove the sutures after 3-14 days.

Dogs usually respond well to the treatment, but prognosis depends on the underlying condition.

Read more: Ear Bleeding in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

  1. Ear hematoma symptoms in dogs
  2. Causes of ear hematoma in dogs
  3. Diagnosis of aural hematoma in dogs
  4. Ear hematoma treatment for dogs
  5. Ear hematoma management in dogs

Since hematomas are painful, your dog will show signs of distress such as:

  • Scratching the ear: Your dog will do this to relieve the pain around the area.
  • Swelling and redness of the area: The burst vessel will cause what is known as a "blood blister" to form in the area.
  • Agitation: The pain will cause your dog to act erratically and unpredictably. 
  • Resistance to touching the area around the pinna: Again, this is attributed to the pain in the area.

The list above covers the superficial set of symptoms a dog will experience. Since the underlying cause can be more serious, neurological symptoms such as issues with balance, facial paralysis, head tilt in dogs, excessive thirst may be present as well.

myUpchar doctors after many years of research have created myUpchar Ayurveda Urjas Capsule by using 100% original and pure herbs of Ayurveda. This ayurvedic medicine has been recommended by our doctors to lakhs of people for sex problems with good results.
long time sex capsule
₹719  ₹799  10% OFF

There can be many reasons for aural hematoma in dogs. On the most superficial level, an accident or trauma can cause a vessel to burst. A foreign body trapped in the area can also cause there to be swelling. 

Ear infections can lead to hematomas, and they can have bacterial or fungal origins. Ear mites in dogs, skin and food allergies can also progress to hematomas.

Additionally, ear infections are quite common in dogs: one out of five dogs will get an ear infection in their lifetime. This is largely due to the fact dogs' ear canals are L-shaped. Therefore, there is a tendency for dirt, moisture and microorganisms to settle at the juncture of the ear. Given the right conditions, this accumulation can turn into an infection. There are three types of ear infections in dogs: otitis externa (outer ear infection), otitis media (middle ear infection) and otitis interna (inner ear infection).

Often your dog will display symptoms in addition to a swollen and red pinna. Since hematomas are caused by a range of issues, your vet will ask for a detailed medical history of your dog as well as any recent incidents of trauma.
The area around your dog's ear will be cleaned and a sample of the wax or debris will be taken to conduct a culture. Blood test, urinalysis, imaging tests may be conducted to determine any underlying cause.

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause. However, to stop the swelling and prevent recurrence, your vet may decide to conduct a small procedure under anaesthesia. The cut will be made in the swollen area and a surgical drain which absorbs fluid will be placed to prevent accumulation. Alternatively, stitches may be put in the area to prevent accumulation as well. 

Depending on how the ear heals, the stitches may be taken out around two weeks after the surgery. Antibiotics may be provided to prevent infection in the area. 

Treatment will need to continue until the underlying cause is addressed.

You may also be interested in: Ear Mites in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

myUpchar doctors after many years of research have created myUpchar Ayurveda Kesh Art Hair Oil by using 100% original and pure herbs of Ayurveda. This Ayurvedic medicine has been recommended by our doctors to more than 1 lakh people for multiple hair problems (hair fall, gray hair, and dandruff) with good results.
Bhringraj hair oil
₹425  ₹850  50% OFF

As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your pet’s ears are cleaned. Since they are susceptible to infection, extra attention needs to be paid to them. Your vet will be able to tell you how to safely clean your dog’s ears; excessive cleaning also leads to problems. 

The basic idea to keep your dog’s ears dry as moistness invites microorganisms to thrive. 

If your dog has chronic ear issues, talk to your vet about cleanliness and ear drops that can help to control the infections.

Read more: Cleaning your dog's ears


  1. American Kennel Club. [Internet]. AKC Inc. New York.;Dog Ear Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
  2. VCA. [Internet]. VCA Inc.; Hematoma of the ear in dogs
  3. Pet MD. [Internet]. Pet MD, LLC; Ear hematoma in dogs
  4. Whole Dog Journal. [Internet]. Belvoir Media Group, LLC; Treatment for your dog's ear hematomas
  5. MSD Veterinary Manual [Internet]. Merck & Co., Inc.; Auricular hematomas in dogs
Read on app
Ask your health query from live doctors now!