Aural haematoma in dogs

Aural haematoma cone
Cone of shame?

Both our dogs Jessie and Max generally enjoy good health, but a couple of weeks ago a visiting friend commented “Jessie has a boxers ear” We were confused, she is a cockapoo not a boxer! What she meant was an aural (ear) haematoma.

An aural haematoma is basically a build up of blood or serum in the pinna or visible flap of the ear. Imagine the ear under the fur as being a pitta bread and the pocket has filled with fluid. Jessie’s normally floppy right ear felt like it had a very firm squeaker from a stuffed toy inside it and was very warm to the touch. A fuller explanation can be found on the PDSA website

An emergency vet visit on a Sunday morning helped. The vet punctured the skin and squeezed out the fluid. But warned it may come back. Sure enough by the next morning it had started to refill.

So she was booked in as a ln inpatient to have a more extensive procedure under a general anaesthetic to correct the problem.

Jessie has never been scared of the vets and this time was no different. Max however was traumatised when I returned without her. He had never spent more than 15 minutes on his own in the 9 years of his life! He spent the day looking out of the window and assuming everyone that came to the door was bringing Jessie back.

Our daughter Ruth trying to reassure Max while Jessie was at the vets

All went well and we picked her up at around 4pm wearing her “cone of shame” to prevent her scratching wounds.

The procedure involves making an incision about 3cm long on the inside of the ear which has to remain open for 2 weeks to allow weeping. The ear has multiple stitches through it to seal it together and hold the incision open. The inside of the stiches also have small plastic tubes to assist the process

Aural haematoma stiches
Outer ear
Aural haematoma incision
Inner ear

An aural haematoma in dogs is generally caused by excessive scratching or shaking of the head, both of which can cause blood vessels to rupture. They are not uncommon and generally easy to rectify. The only complication so far is that the vet discovered during her one week check up the wound had healed up, normally a good thing, but not for this procedure. So we have to keep soaking it to keep it soft.

Poor Jessie has had fun poked at her by friendly passes by but she takes it in her stride and has leant to cope with the cone, mainly the art of holding her head higher so it doesn’t catch on ground obstacles and steps.

dog walking with cone
Walking in a cone

The funniest comment we have had is from a lady who suggested some dogs are given baby grows to wear instead of cones.. Whilst we know this a thing to protect areas a baby grow would cover, we couldn’t quite get her to understand it would not prevent Jessie scratching her ear! We have also had a couple of “can she have ice cream in her cone” jibes 🙂

As always we have been happy with our local vets that once was Ian McConnell’s but is now a branch of Medivet. Not least because they have slots set aside out of hours for registered patients so we didn’t have to pay a premium for the Sunday morning visit.

Update 3 weeks later

We are pleased to share that 3 weeks on from finding the problem, Jessie is recovering well. The stitches have been removed and the ear is healing nicely. We were a little frustrated to learn that because she has had ear infections over the past 9 years (not recently), our insurance considers this haematoma to be the result of an existing condition. Even though the vet felt it was impossible to determine a cause, it could have been rough play with Max. But we are currently appealing.

Meanwhile Jessie is now sporting an asymmetric bob!

asymmetric bob

Less Jessie J. more Rihanna …

Rihanna asymmetric bob

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