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Dr. Suzanne Hurst
Dr. Suzanne Hurst, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 202
Experience:  I have been practicing small animal veterinary medicine for 12 years.
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Dog with swollen ear lobe

Resolved Question:

Dog with swollen ear lobe
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Suzanne Hurst replied 8 years ago.
HiCustomer Dr. Hurst here.

Most likely the swollen ear lobe is something called an aural hematoma. "Aural" refers to the ear and "hematoma" refers to the collection of blood in an area causing a swelling. What happens is a blood vessel breaks inside the ear pinna (lobe) and because there is no tissue to absorb the blood it collects between the skin and the cartilage that is within the pinna. The blood vessel breaks from either the dog shaking her head vigorously, scratching at the ear, or bumping it on something. Most often these occur secondary to an ear infection, but can be caused by pure trauma. On rare occasions these can occur secondary to other disorders that affect the dog's ability to clot their blood.

The ice pack is probably soothing, but won't reduce swelling or cure the problem because the blood and resulting clot that forms is trapped inside the pinna. The preferred method for treating is to lance the ear and remove the clot and blood, then suture or otherwise affix the skin and cartilage back together to prevent the fluid from reoccurring and provide better healing. The incision into the ear will be left open to drain. Left untreated the ear will eventually go on to heal but can be very painful in the meantime, may get worse, and will result in a grossly disfigured ear. With surgery the pain will be diminished and disfigurement will be greatly minimized, though there is bound to be a little change to the ear.

Draining the ear only is not likely to work because a pocket is left behind and it quidkly refills with blood or serum and you end up right back with the swollen and painful lobe.

It is extremely important ot treat any underlying ear infections, if present, at the same time.

If this is not a hematoma the other possibility is an insect sting or bite, an allergic reaction, or a tumor.

If I can be of further assistance please let me know. Best wishes!
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