What is this lump on my pet’s ear?

joanneEars, Uncategorized

The ear flap or pinna is made up of a piece of cartilage covered by skin. Sometimes you will get bleeding between the layers that pushes the skin off the cartilage, and causes a lump. We call this pocket of blood a hematoma, and because it is on the ear, it is classified as an aural hematoma.

While the cause of the hematoma is bleeding, there are many different reasons why bleeding occurs.

  • Any irritation to the ear that causes scratching or head shaking.

  • Trauma from other dogs biting or tugging the ear flap.

  • Hitting the ear against an object.

  • An inflammation of the small blood vessels in the pinna.

  • A clotting disorder.

Aural hematomas are common in dogs, but I have seen a few cats develop them as well. If hematomas are left untreated, the blood clot will eventually re-absorb but it will scar, leaving the pinna crinkled. While this is mostly a cosmetic issue, sometimes it bunches up over the ear opening bothering your pet and increasing the risk for ear infections. Treatment involves removing the blood and trying to minimize scarring. Currently, I treat hematomas by draining the blood out with a needle and syringe, and instilling an anti-inflammatory to soothe the tissue and limit scarring. This procedure is done with mild sedation and pain medication. Sometimes the ear needs to be drained a few times, but in general, this technique works well. Once the immediate danger of scarring is taken care of, the underlying cause is identified and a management strategy in put in place. Ultimately, that is the best way to ensure that these do not recur.


Hematoma lump demarcated by the white lines.

Hematoma lump demarcated by the white lines.


















Normal thickness of pinna

Normal thickness of pinna

Pinna with a hematoma .

Side view pinna with a hematoma .