Aural hematomas (swollen ear flaps) are a moderately common condition in dogs but less prevalent in cats. The cause behind hematomas is not exactly known, but it is linked to excessive flapping of the ears. Thus breeds that have long ears are more susceptible to the condition.
A hematoma is a swelling caused by a ruptured blood vessel after bleeding has occurred inside a tissue. Aural hematoma occurs when a blood vessel within the ear flap breaks, and the ear flap swells with blood. The swelling can be partial or complete and in severe conditions may even block the ear canal totally. The ear flap can fluctuate, appear like a balloon and result in a significant change in the carriage of the ear.
Untreated hematomas may heal without any treatment over a period of time. However, this option is preferred only in cases where the dog cannot be given an anesthesia. Left alone, an aural hematoma can disfigure the ears giving them a shape that is commonly known as ‘cauliflower’ ears.
Treatment options for aural hematomas include a simple aspiration, pie-crusting sutures and placement of a teat cannula. Aspiration involves draining of the fluid with a syringe. This only serves a temporary purpose as the space vacated by the fluid is easily filled by another spurt of blood or fluid.
The other two modes of treatment that are relatively more permanent involve minor surgeries and are recommended procedures for treating aural hematomas. A surgical incision is made in the ear flap and the fluid, blood and blood clots are removed. The incision is then sealed with sutures to prevent refilling of the hematoma.
Teat cannula, used for draining milk or infected discharges in cattle, is also used to treat hematomas if they are large enough to house the device. This drains out the fluid in the hematoma and is then allowed to heal on its own. Teat cannula, however, can be a bit problematic for the dog as he has to tolerate a foreign substance in his ear for several weeks.
From easily treatable ear mites to tumors that require prolonged treatments and surgery, pet ears cause considerable problems to pets. Pet owners can prevent development of many medical conditions in their pets by keen observation, regular grooming and timely intervention. For example, dog ear mites are a common infection in dogs that can be detected during grooming before they can actually cause further harm. Cat ear mites may not be as common, but they can cause considerable harm to kittens.
Many times, home remedies for dog ear mites can effectively treat the condition. Ear mites can cause intense itching and compel the dog to shake his head. Aural hematomas being associated with excessive head shaking can thus be one of the conditions that can be avoided if you are regular in grooming your pet.