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Fluid in Outer Ear of My Dog

by Tom
(Arlington, WA, USA)


My 5 year old Red Nose Pit's ear filled up with some kind of fluid all of a sudden. The ear is not hot or warm. She does not appear to be in pain, but in my experience she never does.

The fluid has not gone down, and it seems to be filling up even more.

What's wrong with her? What can I do?

Comments for Fluid in Outer Ear of My Dog

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May 11, 2010
My Online Vet Response to Fluid in Outer Ear Flap
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman


Hi Tom,
Your dog has a hematoma. This is caused by a rupture of the small blood vessels, or capillaries.

The ear flap is made like a sandwich, with skin on the outside, and cartilage in the middle. The capillaries lie between the skin and the cartilage, when a capillary ruptures then blood begins to fill up the space under the skin.

It is usually not painful. Conventional veterinarians do not have a real explanation as to why they occur. Although sometimes it is associated with a dog ear infection inside the ear canal, but not always. It will continue to enlarge as gravity pulls more fluid/blood/serum into the ear flap.

To treat a hematoma, conventional veterinarians will do surgery, to lance the flap and drain out all of the blood/serum/fluid and then suture the skin and underlying cartilage together. Or they will insert a drain that will stay in for 3 weeks, to allow all of the fluid to drain out.

To a holistic veterinarian, this condition represents a chronic illness. Meaning that there is some underlying problem that made her susceptible to developing a hematoma. Determining what the underlying problem might be will make you dog healthier overall and prevent a recurrence of more hematomas.

To find a holistic veterinarian in your area click this link:
find a holistic veterinarian in your area

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Apr 27, 2011
Hematoma won't go away
by: Missy

My dog is trying to survive hemangiosarcoma. He developed a hot spot on his face from allergies. When attempting to scratch the hot spot, he caught his ear and that led to a hematoma. Vet does not want to do the normal "quilt" surgery because that would entail putting the dog under.

With the cancer, the vet (and we) don't want to subject the dog to that much anesthesia. The vet made a small slice in the dog's ear to drain the fluid, but the ear keeps filling up again. I have been cutting open the slice almost daily to re-drain the ear.

He keeps shaking his head and the blood vessel is not healing, so the ear keeps filling up. We've tried lots of methods to keep his ear fixed to his head so it doesn't shake so much (tape, ace bandage, sticky bandage, cone collar, tube collar and cominations of all those), but I'm about at wits end.

Any suggestions to 1) stop the ear from filling up and 2) keep the ear immobile?

Thanks for your help!

Apr 29, 2011
My Online Vet Response for Hematoma won't Go Away
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Missy,

Hopefully, this information is not too late. I did want to answer anyway, as your veterinarian may find this info useful: http://www.drlarsons.us/teattube.html

It is a teat cannula used to treat cow mastitis, and can be used to treat dog ear hematomas, using only a local anesthetic in the ear flap, then taking a #15 blade to lance the hematoma, then insert the cannula, and suture in place with one suture. (Removing the cap off of the tube before inserting to allow drainage). Note that the 'opening' of the cannula should be directed in a downward direction to allow the fluid/blood to drain out.

I keep dogs on antibiotics for 2-3 weeks while the cannula is in place, and keep the cannula in place for 3 weeks minimum, to make sure the hematoma has completely resolved, before removing it. Then apply Neosporin ointment to the hole left in the ear flap, which should heal in 4-5 days.

Since your dog has a bleeding type of tumor, (hemangiosarcoma), there are also Chinese herbs, and homeopathic remedies that would be beneficial to use while the cannula is in place in the ear. So, you would need to take your dog to a holistic veterinarian.

To find a holistic veterinarian in your area click on the link below
find a holistic veterinarian in your area

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Related Pages:
- Dog Skin Conditions,
- Dog Itchy Skin,
- Dog Skin Rash,
- Dog Skin Allergies,
- Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Skin Rashes, Marks, Spots, Lesions & Patches (including itchy skin and mange) Section

Feb 22, 2012
shar-pei pups
by: Anonymous

my 4 month old pups ears are doing the same thing. i have 2 females from the same litter and thought it was just an infection from bites because they are always playing and chewing on each other. after closer observation there are no teeth marks or scratches on either pups ears. the situation is getting worse daily. what to do???

Feb 22, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Fluid in Outer Ear of My Dog
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Dear Anonymous,
For your Sharpei Puppies, I thank you for your question. I'm happy to help, but we only accept new questions from subscribers (the original question above was from a subscriber).
Please click here to sign up and submit your question and photos. I'll then get back to you right away at the bottom of your newly created web page.
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Aug 26, 2013
Gravity?
by: Keith

It's not 'gravity'; it's osmotic pressure. lol

Aug 26, 2013
My Online Vet Response for: Fluid in Outer Ear of My Dog
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

August 26, 2013

Hi Keith,

Osmotic pressure was one theory, but in studies done in humans with Chronic sub-dural hematomas (CSDH), that was found to be incorrect.

"Two major theories have been proposed to explain the growth of a CSDH—namely, the osmotic theory and the theory of recurrent bleeding from the haematoma capsule. Osmotic theory was based on the hypothesis that the liquefaction of the haematoma increases the protein content and oncotic pressure in the encapsulated fluid. This attracts fluid from the neighbouring vessels into the cavity due to osmotic pressure gradient across the semipermeable membrane (haematoma capsule). However this theory was disproved by Weir, who demonstrated that the osmolality of the haematoma fluid was identical to that of blood and cerebrospinal fluid.

Recurrent bleeding from the haematoma capsule is the proved and more widely accepted theory. The haematoma capsule has been shown to have abnormal and dilated blood vessels, the source of haemorrhage." (Source: http://pmj.bmj.com/content/78/916/71.full)

This would be similar to what is occurring in a dog's ear. Especially in the majority of cases in canine hematomas, there is no history of trauma. Leading to the conclusion that the vessels in the ear are abnormal, and have ruptured spontaneously.

If you have found some more specific information especially helpful in treating these patients, please share it with us.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Oct 04, 2013
Hematoma
by: Anonymous

can dogs die from hematoma?

Oct 09, 2013
My Online Vet Response for: Fluid in Outer Ear of My Dog
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

October 9, 2013

Dear Anonymous,

No, dogs cannot die from an ear hematoma. The cartilage will become deformed over time, as the fluid is re-sorbed, and they will be left with a 'cauliflower' ear. (Similar to human boxers with trauma to the external ear.)

If you have additional questions, please click here to sign up and submit your question and photos. I'll then get back to you right away at the bottom of your newly created web page.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

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