Ear Flap or Pinna Problems in Dogs (cont.)

Swollen Ear Flap

Sudden swelling of the ear flap can be caused by an abscess or hematoma. Abscesses frequently occur after dog fights. A hematoma is an accumulation of blood beneath the skin. One cause of hematoma is violent head shaking and scratching at the ear. The area will feel warm and slightly soft to the touch. It may be painful. Look for an underlying itchy ear disorder.

Treatment: Blood must be released from a hematoma to prevent scarring and ear deformity. Removing it with a needle and syringe (something your veterinarian must do) is effective in about 20 percent of cases. If serum accumulates in the drained blood pocket, treatment involves removing a window of skin to provide open and continuous drainage. Sutures are then made through both sides of the ear to pull the skin down and eliminate the pocket. Sometimes a drain will be installed under the skin of the ear to serve this same purpose. If the blood is not removed, the cartilage will curl down and deform the ear as the clot retracts inside.

Fly Bite Dermatitis

Biting flies can attack the face and ears of dogs, sucking blood and inflicting painful bites over the tips or bent folds of the ears. These bites are typically scabbed and crusty black, and they bleed easily. German Shepherd Dogs and other breeds with erect ears are most susceptible.

Treatment: Keep the dog indoors during the day until the wounds are healed. If you are unable to do so, apply insect repellant to the ear tips. Products approved for use around horses' eyes work well, such as Farnam's Fly Off Ointment. Keep the ears clean and dry to discourage flies. Infected ear tips should be treated with a topical antibiotic ointment such as triple antibiotic.