Common ear issues

Aural haematomas

An aural haematoma can be described as a build-up of blood between the cartilage and the skin of the inside ear. The ear flap becomes very swollen and needs treatment urgently.

Aural haematomas are usually caused by vigorous shaking of the head or scratching of the ears which causes small blood vessels to rupture, resulting in bleeding into the ear flap or pinna.

Foreign bodies such as barley grass or an untreated ear infection are causes of irritation and head shaking resulting in a haematoma, so check your pet’s ears regularly. Prevention is the best treatment as most aural haematomas require surgical treatment under sedation or anaesthetic. They do not get better by being left without veterinary treatment.

Ear surgery

The images above show two methods of repairing a haematoma. Image 1 and 2 are before and after a haematoma is drained. For this case a single site is stitched to prevent the area refilling with fluid. Images 3 and 4 show an ear that needed a larger area stitched closed to prevent fluid refilling. The stitches are made through sections of tubing to stop the stitches from pulling through.

It is a good idea to keep up to date with flea treatments which include coverage of ear mites. Ask your veterinary team if you are unsure of which products are best.

Barley grass

Barley grass seeds or awns are prevalent during late spring, summer, and early autumn, and attach easily to the fur of dogs and other animals.

Barley grass seeds can grow close to the ground so it’s not always the tall grass that is an issue. When exercising your dog be aware of areas with seeding grass and try to avoid these if possible – this can be hard to do if your dog is on a mission to find the source of a wonderful scent or wants to reach that river you are walking beside.

After your pet has finished with their walk, check for seed heads between the toes and around their ears and eyes, and in the armpit and groin areas. If you have a long-haired breed, it’s a good idea to clip the feathers between your dog’s toes.

Any small weeping wound, especially between the toes, may be due to a barley grass seed and should be seen by a vet as soon as possible.

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