What to Do if Your Dog Has a Wound on the Ear

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What to Do if Your Dog Has a Wound on the Ear

Ear injuries in dogs happen for a variety of reasons. A dog’s ears have a strong blood supply. Thus, even a small tear or cut can cause a lot of bleeding. But this should not be a cause for worry because blood loss from your pet’s ears won’t make him sick if proper steps are promptly taken to address the problem. Continue reading to learn about causes, symptoms, and treatment of ear wounds in dogs.

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Causes of Ear Wounds in Dogs

  • Trauma to the ears can result from an external source or it could also be self-inflicted from excessive scratching or head shaking.
  • Tears to the ear flap (pinna)
  • Foreign objects becoming lodged in the ear canal
  • Ear infections caused by bacteria or yeast. Intense itching associated with infections can lead to excessive scratching and head shaking-associated traumas.
  • Ear injuries caused by fights or rough play
  • Parasites such as ticks, mites, fleas, and flies
  • Cancer and other lesions in any part of the ears (internal or external). Abnormal growths that can develop in the ears include warts, polyps, sebaceous gland adenomas, etc.

When there is pain, irritation, or itching inside a dog’s ear, it causes your pet to shake his head vigorously. Vigorous head shaking can sometimes cause a tear on a dog’s ear. Sometimes it can cause the formation of a blood blister, call an aural hematoma.

Signs of Ear Injuries in Dogs

  • A wound (if it’s a traumatic injury)
  • Blood
  • Swelling
  • Pain or tenderness when touched
  • Ear discharge
  • A strong-smelling odor from the ear
  • Head shaking
  • Ear scratching
  • Rubbing the ears against the floor or other surfaces
  • Incoordination, loss of balance, and other neurologic signs
  • Reluctance to open the mouth

Treating Ear Wounds in Dogs

Immediate care is necessary for the following situations:

Head shaking

If your dog is shaking his head, try checking the ear that is closest to the ground. If you can see a small object inside the ear canal, try to remove it with your fingers or tweezers. But if it’s difficult to get the object out, have your pet checked by a veterinarian.

The ear is bleeding

Use cotton pads or clean towels to apply pressure on both sides of the ear flap that’s bleeding. Maintain the pressure for several minutes to stop the bleeding. Keep the pads in place and bandage them and the dog’s ears flat against his head and take him to the vet immediately.

The ear is swollen

To prevent further shaking and/or damage to the affected ear(s), bandage the ear flat against the dog’s head, and take your pet to your vet right away.

Neurologic signs are displayed

If the ear wound is accompanied by incoordination or other neurologic signs, confine the dog in a small room with as few objects as possible to avoid injury. Take your dog to the vet right away.

Ear Tip Injuries

Ear injuries tend to be slow and poor healers because dogs are constantly moving their ears, and this can disrupt the healing process. Even if there’s a scab to signify the start of the healing process, it could come off easily when the dog starts shaking his head. If this happens, blood would start oozing again. You should work closely with your vet in managing your dog’s ear injury.

Blood Blisters (Aural Hematomas)

Draining a blood blister is not enough. These blood-filled cysts that usually develop on ear flaps often recur and require proper veterinary intervention. Dogs with thin ears are likely to develop the problem.

A blood blister needs to be drained and stitched in place to let the skin heal. The dog needs to be sedated or placed under anesthesia to treat a blood blister. Your vet’s decision to make a temporary drain will depend on several factors like the size and/or location of the blister and how often your pet gets it.

For ear injuries to heal, the affected area should be kept clean, dry, and immobile. But this is easier said than done. It’s difficult to keep the bandage on a dog’s ears as they could fall off easily when your dog scratches or shakes his head. Wrapping your pet’s ears may be the best solution as it’s the only way to prevent injuring them again. There are many types of bandages, thus it’s a good idea to ask your vet which one will work best for your dog.


Mange mites, ticks, fleas, and biting flies can cause injury to your dog’s ears. Your vet may recommend medication to eliminate these parasites and provide protection against re-infestation.


Some breeds of dogs such as dachshunds are prone to develop damage to the small blood vessels of their ear flap (pinna) as a result of vasculitis. Veterinary attention is required to properly address the condition.

Lumps and Bumps

Not all lumps and bumps on your pet’s ears are benign. Any type of cancer can develop on a dog’s pinna. Cancer could also affect the blood vessels in the ear. Any lumps and bumps on your pet’s ear should be brought to the attention of your vet, more so if the lump appears to change in size, color, shape, or ulcerates.

When to Visit the Vet

Any type of ear injury in your pet should be evaluated by your vet, especially when you don’t know how your dog got it or if it’s recurrent. Many ear injuries look the same but can be caused by different issues. Professional veterinary attention is needed to determine the cause so appropriate treatment can be given. Treatment plan options may include the following:

  • Antibiotic medications (topical and/or oral) to treat an infection.
  • Pain medications to help your pet be more comfortable.
  • Steroids to help reduce inflammation and promote the process of healing.
  • If there’s a blood blister (aural hematoma), surgery may be required to stop the bleeding and let the wound heal.
  • Deep cleansing of the ears if there’s a buildup of ear wax.
  • Removal of a foreign body that is found during the ear exam.
  • Treatment of an underlying medical problem, if present.

Prognosis of Ear Wounds in Dogs

Most causes of ear wounds in dogs have a good prognosis, provided that prompt veterinary attention and appropriate treatment is initiated.

Read more:

Swelling of the Ear (Aural Hematoma) in Cats and Dogs

Why is my dog shaking his head?

Symptoms and Treatment for Ruptured Eardrums in Dogs

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Published: 7/2/2021
Last updated: 8/3/2021

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