Posts Tagged ‘ear infection’

Few things are as unsettling to pet owners as discovering a medical condition which had not been in evidence a day or only hours earlier.   

Ear Flap Hematoma

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One problem that seems to arise quite suddenly is an ear flap hematoma.  A hematoma is the accumulation of blood and serum between the cartilage and skin of the dog’s or cat’s ear flap.  The resultant swelling causes the ear to look like a floppy balloon or a pillow.   

Did you know? Another word for “ear flap” is pinna.

A  hematoma of the ear flap often arises as the result of trauma, whether caused by the pet’s vigorous head shaking, scratching the ear, or smacking the ear on a hard surface when shaking the head.  The head shaking and scratching have their own underlying causes:  fleasear mites, ear infections, or debris collecting on the eardrum.

This ear mite could be the cause of your pet's itchy ears -- and lead to an ear flap hematoma. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

This ear mite could be the cause of your pet’s itchy ears — and lead to an ear flap hematoma.
Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

After the underlying cause of the hematoma has been addressed, the doctor will determine the appropriate treatment for the swollen ear.  A combination of medication, aspiration of the fluid, or surgical repair may be recommended. 

Ear flap hematomas can recur after medication or aspiration, though rarely after surgical intervention.  If medication-only treatment is chosen due to economic circumstances or because the pet is a poor anesthesia risk, the hematoma will usually resolve over a number of weeks.  Patience is key in this instance, and the veterinarian will want to monitor the ear for progress.

A hematoma is unlikely to resolve itself without medical intervention.  For your pet’s sake, keep in mind that a swollen ear flap can be painful, and it can cause your pet to tilt its head to one side constantly or dig at the ear and worsen the problem. If you suspect your pet has an ear flap hematoma, be sure to seek treatment early, for the best results.

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Originally posted on November 2, 2010.

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