Thursday, March 3, 2011

My dogs ears suddenly swollen

When you brig home a new pet you're full of new hopes and imagine the wonderful life ahead of the both of you.

Very few of us actually think let alone prepare for a health problem when it comes to our pets. 

   Sometimes everything is OK until its not.  Our family dog Snoopy is a six year old German shepherd
Pit bull mutt, he is my baby.  I came home to visit my parents on Sunday and as I was petting Snoopy I noticed that both his ear flaps were swollen.  The feeling was so alien to me that I even asked my mother to feel them and asked her have his ears always been like this?  I even had to take off his collar because it didn't seem to fit right all of the sudden.

     My heart sunk all sorts of thoughts came to my mind.  I kept asking myself is this an allergic reaction, an infection, bug bite or ear mites? So many possible diagnosis for such similar ailments.  If you asked me I would have sworn he was dying just from how scared I was. 

  With a little research I found out that many things could cause your dogs ears to swell up especially for dogs with floppy ears.  It could have been a reaction to an infection that had been left untreated and worsened. As well as the possibility of a sort of allergic reaction either to something he ate or rubbed up against.  It could have also been a reaction to ear mite infestation.  The scariest possibility was something called aural hematoma

   Ear mites are most commonly transmitted from contact with an infested host animal, there needs to be some sort of contact.   They are most commonly found in cats but dogs can get them too and they will live off of your animals ear wax and skin oils.  Their life cycle from egg to adult is usually three weeks so treatment needs to cover that time span at the very minimum. 

   Their presence can create very irritating ear infections and a lot of inflammation.  They very rarely travel outside of the ear onto the host head and usually stay on the ear canal skin.   You might see a black discharge.  Infections can sometimes have similar discharge and so some infections are misdiagnosed as ear mites and so not treated properly.  If you suspect infection or ear mites have you animal checked by a professional who can appropriately diagnose and treat.

Aural Hematomas happen when the small blood vessels in the ear flap rupture and fill the ear with blood.  The ear flap will be extremely swollen and when touched will feel like filled with liquid.  This can often be caused by excessive head shaking that causes the vessels to rupture.   Infection of some sore or fungal infection is often the cause for the excessive scratching and ear shaking. 

   If left untreated the hematoma will usually lead to more swelling and a heaviness and discomfort to your pet.  It will usually go away in a few weeks and may leave a deformed "cauliflower ear".  It should be treated quickly to avoid further discomfort, to treat for any possible infection and to prevent deformation. 

  Treatments can be aspiration with a syringe to drain out the excess liquid. As well as surgically opening the ear flap to drain the blood and remove blood clots.  Another treatment possibility is to place an "indwelling cannula" to drain the blood as the ear heals.  With aspiration there is the possibility of infection, dogs rarely tolerate the cannula and surgery is usually the quickest way to deal with a hematoma.  With either treatment or lack of there will always be some sort of scarring tissue.  It is important that any treatment be done by your vet do not attempt to drain the blood your self. 

    There is also the possibility of a yeast infection which also requires treatment.

  So we took Snoops to The North shore Animal League medical center.  Not only was it affordable, at time of visit a wellness exam was $35.00  but everyone was very friendly and the vet thoroughly checked for all possibilities.  He said Snoopy's ear canal was clean and clear no signs of mites, no sign of infection or yeast.  And determined that the swelling was probably caused by an allergic reaction.  I told the vet the swelling went down in about 48 hours and so he probably had an allergic reaction to something he ate since a bug bite would have probably cause swelling on the original bite site. 

   Before we took snoopy to the vet we consulted with a family friend who is a life long dog breeder and he instructed us to rub the ear down with mineral oil or baby oil to kill any possible ear mites and to rub the ear flap with bacitracin or triple antibiotic ointment to treat possible infection.  But he explained to us that if it was an infection it was a serious one.  So we decided to take his advice and make an appointment to see the vet as well. 

          The point is that when an animal exhibits this sort of swelling it could be many different things and you don't want to self diagnose because you might mis treat the problem and therefore not really help at all.  North shore offered affordable treatment and now I have peace of mind that my baby is OK.  Look for clinics in your area that are affordable many shelters will offer affordable health care as well.  Don't try any sort of human treatment unless instructed by a professional because what  may be safe for humans can be deadly for animals.  

   Be safe and be informed on the possible health problems your breed is prone to so you can prepare accordingly.  And remember when you get a pet its a life long commitment they get sick just like we do and when left untreated can be costly and life threatening.


  1. Thank you for the advise.

  2. Awesome i feel alot better she is my baby!

  3. I would like to ask you to share some links to other sources dedicated to this topic in case you are aware of some.

  4. My dog RootBeer recently had a yeast infection in her ear, I started cleaning out the ear but she kept shaking her head violently, she developed an Aural Hematomas within hours, I didn't have a clue what was wrong, so I started looking online and found out what she had (an Aural Hematomas), Everything I read was the animal was in pain (she WAS NOT IN PAIN), that I would have to have surgery done (expensive, which normally wouldn't be a problem, but have lost my job). Then I continued to read how even with surgery the problem could come back. Several people said they spend thousands of dollars and was still fighting the problem, I was beside myself, then I remembered I have a facebook friend who works in a Vet's office and contacted her. She confirmed that my RootBeer was NOT in pain, and that her dog had also had this problem in the past. I needed to clear up the infection (which I knew) and also keep the ear confined. So I ordered Zymox OTIC HC1.0% and used it in the ear canal 2x daily. I then per her instructions took 1 inch strips of tape and taped her ear inside and out like a checkerboard (this has to be done tightly), basically the same thing as a vet would do with sutures, this helped separate the blood so it could absorb back into the body. Then I taped her down on top of her head (she didn't like that ;) ). I was able to administer the Zymox and only had to re-tape the ear when she managed to get the tape off. Finally resorted to the "cone of shame" at night time. within three weeks the Aural Hematomas had absorbed back into her body, (now this ear was fully swollen from base to tip, fattest thing I had ever seen) and ear is almost perfect, instead of having ears that stick straight up, her right ear tip is bent forward, actually adds to her personality. This method kept her from having to go through the trauma of a vet visit and the cutting of the ear, she was able to play with her mate and receive the love and attention from those she trusted. I also used Frankincense essential oil on the bottom of her paws to help with the swelling, I am into homeopathic remedies for myself, and didn't think this could hurt her, whether that helped or not, my friend said the length of time was indeed faster than usual. I hope this helps someone else. I know I will continue with this treatment if it should happen again.

    1. Thank coco been going through this same thing. She is a pit and my baby...he ear being so swollen has bothered me more than it has her. It is swollen and sticks out while her other ear lays normal. She is just as happy as can be but she sees me stressing over it.

    2. Thank coco been going through this same thing. She is a pit and my baby...he ear being so swollen has bothered me more than it has her. It is swollen and sticks out while her other ear lays normal. She is just as happy as can be but she sees me stressing over it.

  5. I don't quite understand the "checker board tape". Could you explain it? I mean I don;t want to squeeze the ear right? My girl isn't in any pain but, she's a Companion dog to me and I just can't bear to see anything wrong with her. Is she spoiled? Oh, heck yes!! She's my baby girl and my bestest friend so I do worry ;-(

  6. Thank you so much my poor baby has both of her ears swollen she scratches at them, shakes her head and , their really pink/red . I'm so worried D,:

  7. My dogs 10cm of swelling around here ear. Its huge, what is it. She's had so many wrong diagnosis from many vets now. I' m s till search for the right vet who was will listen and give the correct diagnosis and treatment. Please help my dog! Any information would be greatly appreciated

    1. The first line of action once you notice your dog has an aural hematoma: Perform a needle aspiration to remove the fresh fluids before a clot is formed. Second: Use an Auralsplint to correct the broken artery causing the hematoma and keep the ear from shriveling. Do not have the archaic and gruesome surgery which does not attempt to correct the broken artery, but instead allows the continued blood flow into the cavity and out either a drain or an open wound. The cost of surgery is mostly prohibitive and rather not needed now that the Auralsplint is in use. Until you are able to perform the auralsplint treatment, make sure to aspirate on a four to five day schedule to keep a clot from forming.

  8. Hmm… I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and i’ll be your constant reader.
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  9. This can cause the growth of microorganisms during the ear leading to bacterial contamination. ear drops for dogs