Golden Retrievers Speak: Hematoma!

No matter how many dogs you own or how many situations you find yourself in, you will sometimes find yourself learning something new…..

Jeter:  About a week ago, mommy was playing with my ears, when she noticed a mass on the flap.  It didn’t seem to bother me, but it was noticeable.    At first, my daddy (always looking for benign reasons for everything) thought it might be a clump of hair.   Mommy wasn’t convinced (and of course would be proven correct).    The growth on my ear grew within the next few days, prompting my daddy to start doing some research.   While reading about masses on dog ears, he came across articles on hematomas, though he still was not convinced that this is what I had.  After all, it didn’t seem to be causing me pain.  I didn’t yelp or do anything to tell my parents that there was an injury there that I didn’t want touched.     He was reading stuff that dogs do with hematomas, and the only behavior I exhibited was scratching at my ear.  However, I have done that since I was a baby.  As dogs always say, don’t always go strictly by the textbook.  Go by how much you know us and our behaviors.    If we suddenly don’t want to play when playtime was our favorite time of day, suspect a problem.  However, if we never played much in the first place, it likely wouldn’t even register in your brain.

I was due for my yearly physical by the end of October, but daddy decided at this point that we should move the schedule up to “as soon as possible.”   I got in the day that he called, and after my exam, the doctor determined I had a hematoma on my ear, which is essentially a “solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues” (yes, I am very good at looking stuff up on

This probably sounds horrible.  The words “clot” and “blood” in the same sentence are not words anyone wants to read.   However, in this case, the condition isn’t life-threatening serious.  You don’t have to rush your dog to the emergency vet at the discovery of inflammation, but you should try to get them to the vet as soon as your vet can see you.  Hematomas can, and do, grow.    They can burst.   If they do burst in your home, you can have a mess on your hands – never mind a traumatized pet.

The doctor drained my hematoma, and was a bit surprised that there was a lot of fluid in the location, but most of it didn’t seem to be blood.   Could it be a seroma, a similar condition that has fluid that isn’t blood?   It is possible, but it could also just be semantics.

Today, my mommy was playing with my ears again, and noticed that the bump has reappeared, which is a dreaded scenario.  Not dreaded in that it makes my condition any worse.  Dreaded in that it didn’t resolve with just one draining.  I will probably have to go back to the vet to figure out what the next steps are, if anything.  My hematoma is not big, so I think the doctor will continue to watch me closely over recommending a surgery for my ear.  I guess I shall find out.

I am not a fan of the vet (like most dogs).  I shake and cry.  It takes a lot to calm me down, and my chart actually says “Will calm down for treats.”  I am no idiot.  It is possible I have associated the exam room with the crying with the treats.  That doesn’t mean I am actually calm – but is it impossible that I know to put on an instinctive “show” just so I can get some extra cookies?  I will let you humans try to figure that out.

Alanis:   I don’t have much to say here, other than I hope my big brother is OK!  We are always playing, and (like many dogs) we like to go after each other’s ears.  I hope I can’t cause any more damage with that type of play!  And my parents will have a devil of a time trying to keep me calm if Jeter needs any time to rest his injury!   I don’t take “no” for an answer easily, and I am always in play mode around Jeter.

Jeter:  No worries.  I don’t think this is serious, girl!   And never mind keeping you calm if I had an injury – imagine them trying to keep ME calm!  I may be 8 years old, but I want to move!  I want to walk, I want to play.  I have no intentions of slowing down!   Nothing will stop me!

Alanis:  Except for when stuff falls out of the freezer…

Jeter:  Different topic, different time.

Me:   Hematomas are typically not dangerous,  but you will need to get your dog to the vet for treatment.  Hematomas can form slowly and stay small (like Jeter’s), or they can grow tremendously in the space of only a few hours.  What are they caused by?  Typically, they are caused by ear infections, in a bit of an indirect way:  Your dog has an infection, so they shake their head violently, which is what causes the hematoma to eventually form.  They can also be caused by trauma to the ear, and other medical conditions (allergic reactions, etc.)    Your vet should be able to get to the bottom of the underlying condition, but I assume in many cases that the cause can be rather benign.   They are more common in big, floppy eared dogs.   If you often like to scratch around your dog’s ears, feel around their flap every now and again to see if there are any abnormalities.  Sometimes, the hematoma will present itself just by sight.   

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