|Shiner's ear is wrinkled due to a past ear hematoma surgery.|
Ear Hematoma in Pets
Both cats and dogs can get ear hematomas. An ear hematoma is when the pinna (ear flap) of a cat or dog's ear becomes filled with fluid. It kind of resembles a water balloon. The fluid in the pinna is mostly blood.
I can remember back when Shiner got her ear hematomas. I was very concerned because it just looked so big and uncomfortable. I was still in college for my veterinary assisting so I decided to ask one of my teachers about it. I described Shiner's ears to her and she was quick to tell me that my dog had an ear hematoma and would need a surgery to correct it.
In most cases, surgery is performed on the ear to correct the hematoma. A veterinarian will make a long incision down the ear flap to get rid of all that fluid and blood that's accumulated in there. Then, they can suture in some plastic stints to each side of the ear flap.
Every veterinarian is different, and I've seen the surgery done many different ways. I've even seen some photos of post-op hematoma surgeries where they used buttons too. The ears can take a long time to heal after the hematoma is repaired.
|A dog's ear pinna after a hematoma repair surgery. Source|
A handful of ear hematomas can be corrected with medication. If the hematoma is very small, sometimes a course of steroids can make it go away. That's pretty rare I'd say, however.
How Do Pets Get an Ear Hematoma?
Shiner's ear hematomas were caused because of chronic ear infections. She was constantly shaking her head which caused the blood vessels in her ear flaps to burst. In turn, her ear pinna became filled with the excess blood and fluid making her ears look like water balloons. Many dogs get ear hematomas secondary to an ear infection.
Most of the cats that I've seen with ear hematomas got them because their ears were itchy too. But the cats' ears were itchy from chronic ear mite infestations. The cats would scratch and shake their ears, causing the vessels in the pinna to burst. While an ear hematoma in a cat is a little less common than it is in a dog, it is definitely still possible.
Another cause for an ear hematoma in pets is trauma to the ear pinna. Perhaps they got into a tussle with another pet and their ear got scratched or bitten. It's an easy way to puncture a vessel in the ear flap and can cause a hematoma.
If your pet has a surgery to correct a hematoma, their ear flaps are going to be crinkly and wrinkly for the rest of their life. It's commonly called "cauliflower ears". Shiner's ears are like this now and have been this way for many years. It's not harmful to a dog or cat to have ear flaps like this and is just a cosmetic thing.
The ear flaps also feel very hard after they've fully healed from surgery. This is because of all the scar tissue that's left afterwards.
|A "cauliflower ear" on a cat left from scar tissue after an ear hematoma. Source|
You can prevent an ear hematoma in your pet by maintaining good ear health. For dogs, regular ear cleaning once every week or two is a good habit. Cats may not need their ears cleaned as often, but you should still take a peek in there every now and then.
Let your pet's veterinarian know if you see your pet scratching their ears or shaking their head. It could be a sign of an ear infection or ear mites.
Have you ever dealt with an ear hematoma with your pet before? If so, share your experience!