08-2014 August



Ask Dr. Debbie

Q: My veterinarian diagnosed my Bulldog, Butch, with an aural hematoma and said it could turn into a cauliflower ear if not treated. He recommended surgery, but I’m skeptical he needs surgery. His ear infections have responded to ointments in the past. What do you think?


A: First, let’s summarize…an aural (ear) hematoma is a condition in which a pocket of blood develops within the ear flap- giving it a thick, water-balloon feel. Hematomas occur after repeated head shaking or scratching which causes damage to blood vessels in the ear flap.  Aural hematomas are a common consequence of chronic ear infections, but may develop in dogs that don’t display ear shaking, pets with immune disorders or other systemic illnesses.

How Butch’s hematoma should be treated is based on several factors: the size of the hematoma, how long it has been present, if deep ear infection is present, and your veterinarians own personal success with various methods. At my office I use different techniques depending on the pet, financial factors, the owner’s ability to care for at home afterwards, and my clinical suspicion on what might work best for the pet.

Recent onset hematomas can be drained with a needle and injecting a steroid in the ear flap. This non-surgical treatment doesn’t work for every dog, and must be repeated every 3-5 days until resolved.  High dose oral prednisone (a steroid), used either alone or with drainage, has also been effective for some pets with aural hematomas. Some veterinarians also employ ear bandaging.

For longer standing hematomas, large sized hematomas, or those with significant ear infection, surgical repair and deep ear flush are preferred.

Aural hematomas may resolve without treatment, but permanent scarring, termed the “cauliflower ear” is a potential risk. Cauliflower ears have a deformed, crinkled and scarred appearance. This cosmetic change cannot be repaired once present and is most apparent in erect eared dogs.

It sounds like Butch has an ongoing history of ear infections, and just treating with ointments doesn’t sound wise to me. Ask your veterinarian to further discuss the pros and cons of medical versus surgery in Butch’s individual case.  

For more information and to view photos of ear hematoma, visit Veterinarypartner.com’s article Aural Hematoma – VeterinaryPartner.com

It’s Shave Time

Do you shave your dog or cat seasonally? Many pet owners tame their pet’s fur and manage mats by shaving the hair coat short. Others just prefer the easy care of shaved styles. In any case, if you do shave your pet- now is the time to get it done.

The goal is to have some hair regrowth by fall and winter to provide protection against cooler temps. Check your cats and dogs for matting- there is no benefit leaving matted hair, in fact it can be detrimental to leave mats stay for the winter. Untreated mats can cause discomfort to the pet and risk skin infections underneath.

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