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Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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My Boston Terrier has a swollen ear. Its swollen/red on the

Resolved Question:

My Boston Terrier has a swollen ear. It's swollen/red on the exterior and interior of his ear. What should I do?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Hi thereCustomer


Welcome to Just Answer! I would like to help you and your Boston with this question, but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.


Has he been shaking his head a lot recently?


Does the flap of the ear look like a water balloon?


Has he had discharge from his ears recently?



Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Yes, he has been shaking his head a lot. When I got home from work, I let him out of his crate and watched him walk with his head tilted. He then tried to shake his head. He's noticeably uncomfortable.


Additionally, he's trying to scratch it with his back paws...but it's quite uncomfortable for him.


Water ballon? How do you mean?


No discharges.

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

I mean that the ear flap itself is swollen up, like this:


or this:


(click "view larger image" if it doesn't show up initially)

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Yikes! Those are ugly.


No, the flap of the ear is just irritated and red, both on the interior and exterior. The swollen part is on the exterior just as you enter the ear. Essentially, it would be to the opposite side of the flap.

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

LOL - yes, those are not pretty ears, are they?!


Ok, so your boy has swelling that is across the canal from the ear flap? Is it just on one ear? How big is the swelling (pea, chickpea, cherry tomato, etc)?


Any chance you have a digital camera?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

I would say it's the size of a pea.


If I can't find a camera, I could use my PDA/Smartphone?

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

SURE! If you can take a pic that would be great!


Now, I have to warn you that for some reason people working on Macs seem to have trouble uploading photos. Actually, lots of people seem to have trouble. So, if it works, that is a bonus... and if not, we'll manage!



You can post a photo or file on this thread - here is how to post them:

You need to post your files on your question page, so the expert can see them. On your question page, there is a tool bar above the reply box at the bottom of the page. If the tool bar is not showing, click "show tool bar". Once you have the tool bar showing, here are the instructions for posting your files:

For graphics, click the tree icon and then browse to choose a GIF, PNG, or JPG. Upload and then insert it.

For zip files, PDFs, or spreadsheets, you need to use the link tool. Enter text (like "download this") in the reply box and then double-click to highlight it. The link is the tool to the left of the tree. In the upper right corner is a browse dialog box, which you can use to locate your file. Select it and then insert the link. Use the Preview button if you want to test the link and see if it works correctly.

File size is limited to 1 MB.

Hope that works for you! Fiona

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Okay. I snapped a few pics. I'll attach them shortly. It's taking a little while to process.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Yeah, I'm not able to load the files. Let's proceed without.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Yeah, I'm not surprised. Sigh. There seems to be some glitch with the system!!


Ok, so this bump was NOT there this am and is now?


Does your Boston have any swelling around his eyes or mouth?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.


Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.
Ok! One last question - does he have discharge inside either ear? Does it have a smell to it?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
No on both accounts.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.



Ok, I lied! I need more info!


Just one ear? Other is TOTALLY normal?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Yes ma'am. Just one ear.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Ahhh... :-)


Ok, I think we have just about used up the 1000 words that the picture was worth! LOL! ;-)


I am going to go work on an answer and will be back shortly!


Do you have Benadryl in the house?


And how much does your little guy weigh?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Yeah, we've got Benadryl. He weighs 27 pounds.

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Hi againCustomer


Thanks for ALL of your answers to better help me to understand what may be going on with your Boston. There are a number of things that I would be considering if he were on his way in to see me.


1. This could be a bug bite, spider bite that is causing an allergic reaction. If this is the case, then he would improve with Benadryl.


In a dog that I diagnose with an allergic reaction, I would treat for this! I generally suggest to clients that they give BENADRYL (diphenhydramine). The dose that one generally gives is 1mg/lb. It comes as 25 mg tablets, and if he is 27lbs, then the appropriate dose for a dog of that size would be 1 tablet. This can be repeated every 8 hours for 24-36h.

Here is more about Benadryl:

You should see improvement within 30 minutes.

In the meantime, apply cool compresses (a small towel dipped in cold water and wrung out) to the affected areas.

Here is more about allergic reactions in dogs:

If the swelling is increasing in size or starting to include other areas such as around his face or nose, I suggest you take him to your veterinarian immediately. Please stay with him until it starts to come down because if it starts to cause swelling in the airways this could be serious. If it comes down with the Benadryl, it raises the index of suspicion that this is an allergic reaction.

2. This could be the beginning of an ear infection.

Ear infections (otitis externa) are quite common. They are commonly caused by yeast, bacteria or a combination of both. Quite often, the ear medications that I prescribe have a combination of anti-fungals to treat the yeast, anti-biotics to treat the bacteria and anti-inflammatories to decrease the pain and inflammation. The names of a couple of ear medications I commonly prescribe are Surolan and Otomax.


Here are some links about Otitis Externa that you might find useful:


3. This bump and redness could be due to a puncture wound that has become infected. This could happen if he caught it on a twig, or sharp nail in the house, or if he had a tussle with a cat. What can happen is that bacteria get placed deep below the skin when a puncture occurs. The hole is small and quickly scabs over, leaving the bacteria below there. They grow well in this warm, moist airless environment.


So, the bacteria multiply, and the body sends in white blood cells to fight the infection, and soon you have a big pocket of pus and bacteria: an abscess! The abscess grows bigger until it ruptures and the pus pours out. This relieves the pressure and allows the hole to close over which then allows the process to start again.


Puncture wounds, ideally, should be treated with antibiotics within 24 hours. This prevents the bacteria from multiplying and forming an abscess in the first place.


So, overall, my suggestion would be to try the Benadryl, but if it is not helping then you are likley going to need to see a vet in order to get medication to treat this.


Good luck with your dog. If this has been helpful, please hit the green "Accept" button. I will still be here to provide more information if you need it!


The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.




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