Dogs, while seemingly casual folks, live by routine. Give them a bath, they'll shake off. They'll shake after a bath or after an outing in the rain -- and they may shake because their ears are bothering them. A dog with an ear problem can shake until he nearly achieves liftoff. Excessive shaking can cause a hematoma of the ear. Meanwhile, trauma can cause a hematoma to occur elsewhere in your dog's body.
A hematoma is defined as blood that has collected and pooled outside a blood vessel. The most common hematoma is the subdural hematoma, which forms beneath the dog's skin. Aside from the aural hematoma, which occurs on the dog's ear, the subdural hematoma is most often easiest to diagnose, as it is visible and is normally detected during a physical examination. Hematomas occur in the head and brain, and are more difficult to detect. Symptoms of hematoma of the head or brain include changes in behavior due to neurological abnormalities -- which can cause seizures. Hematomas can form in other organs, where they may be asymptomatic. As such, sadly, a hematoma in a major organ may go undiagnosed until organ failure occurs.
A small hematoma may reabsorb, resolving without surgery. Sizeable hematomas normally require surgical intervention; sometimes, a drain to allow post-surgical drainage is necessary. The aural hematoma, or hematoma of the ear, differs from other types of hematomas; proper treatment is typically surgical in nature.
The Aural Hematoma
The aural hematoma is similar to other types of hematoma in that it is a collection of blood that pools outside blood vessels. The canine aural hematoma is caused by excessive shaking of the head and ears; it often occurs when the dog's ears strike an object during shaking. The condition differs from other types of hematomas in that the aural hematoma is normally removed surgically. Although lancing is also used in treatment, the hematoma can refill quickly, and lancing can lead to excessive bleeding from the incision site. A small aural hematoma may reabsorb; while this avoids costly surgery, it may cause disfiguration to the dog's ear.
Dogs will be dogs. It may be impossible to avoid the occasional accident and resulting trauma. Keeping your dog safe and away from dangerous situations is one way to avoid trauma that could result in hematoma. Preventing aural hematoma is a matter of routine care. Ear mites, infection and filth can cause excessive head-shaking. Proper ear care and a watchful eye may help your canine pal avoid a trip to the doggy operating room.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images