Your dog’s ears are one of the most sensitive, important, and expressive parts of their body. Not only do dogs use their ears to hear, but they are very essential in maintaining balance. Dogs also express emotions through their ears. The posture and position of a dog’s ears at any given time tell the story of how they’re feeling, such as curious, happy, or afraid.
A bump on your dog’s ear could range from a mild skin infection to a malignant tumor. Any medical complications or conditions which cause damage to the ears risk the dog’s sense of hearing and also affect them in various other ways. The psychological harm that hearing loss could cause to a dog should not be underestimated.
Why Does Your Dog Have A Bump On His Ear?
Following are the few causes for a bump on your dog’s ear:
- Otohematoma – a pool of mostly clotted blood that forms in an organ, tissue, or body space. A hematoma is usually caused by a broken blood vessel that was damaged by surgery or an injury.
- Tumors – these could be any kind of tumors, benign to malignant.
- Abscesses – this is an accumulation of pus, usually the body’s response to bacterial infections.
We’ll dig deeper and discuss these causes and their treatments in depth for your knowledge. Let’s dive in…
One of the most common reasons for a bump on your dog’s ear is a hematoma – also known as aural hematoma. This is an accumulation of blood between the cartilage of the ear and skin. It is most commonly found on the inside flap of the dog’s ear. The most common cause of an aural hematoma is trauma, including blunt force, such as being hit or getting bitten by another dog, that can rupture the blood vessels.
There could also be discomfort due to infections in the ear that makes the dog scratch it so violently that it ruptures blood vessels. The ruptured blood vessels then release blood between the skin and cartilage. The otohematoma separates the skin from the ear cartilage, which creates a characteristic bump or swelling on the ear flap. If it is left untreated, the otohematoma can clot and form a seroma – in which case the bump that forms attaches to the ear cartilage, resulting in a wrinkled or puckered outer ear.
The treatment of otohematoma could vary depending on how far it has progressed.
If you see a small bump on your dog’s ear that has only recently developed, treatment is usually based on:
- Closed suction: the hematoma is punctured with a catheter or needle, and the blood is drained out.
- Bandages: once the blood has drained, it is important to place a bandage that keeps the ear cartilage in contact with the skin to promote healing.
In serious cases where the otohematoma has progressed, surgery is required. The surgeon will make an incision under general anesthesia to drain the blood from the ear and remove any attachments that have formed. It is then stitched with transfixing stitches that allow the skin and ear cartilage to remain attached.
In addition to resolving the bump, it is essential to establish a specific treatment for what triggered it. Otherwise, it is likely to reoccur and can cause problems in the future.
One possible cause for a sizable bump on your dog’s ear is a tumor. Most neoplasms (an abnormal mass of tissue that forms when cells grow and divide more than they should) located in the ear region of a dog are usually benign and do not cause a fatal threat to your dog. Some of the most recurrent types of tumors are:
- Histiocytomas: usually small, benign neoplasms with a rounded shape and smooth edges. They’re usually reddish in color, and can bleed and develop scabs.
- Lipomas: a type of fatty tumors in dogs which develops due to unknown causes. They are benign and can grow to a considerable size.
- Papillomas: benign neoplasms with an appearance resembling a cauliflower. They occur in groups, are fragile and pale in color. They are sensitive and can bleed easily.
Malignant tumors are not that recurrent, but can sometimes do so. The most common types of these are adenocarcinomas and mast cell tumors. Mast cell tumors usually occur in the ear flap of the dog.
Despite their origin or malignancy, these tumors must be surgically removed to prevent future complications. In case of a malignant tumor, your vet will also assess the need for treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Abscesses can occur in any tissue of the body where pus accumulates. It is an acute inflammatory reaction (body’s response) to bacterial infections. Abscesses in a dog’s ear can be recognized by bumps in the skin with the size of the bumps varying on how bad the infection is.
Fights with other dogs commonly cause ear abscesses in dogs. The ears are exposed to biting and the bacteria in the other dog’s mouth can infect open wounds. An abscess could also be caused by any trauma or wound with a secondary bacterial infection. These could be due to blows, accidents, or even insect bites.
Usually, the treatment of abscesses is based on:
- Drainage of the abscess: the abscess is punctured to drain out the pus and blood.
- Anti-inflammatory or antibiotic therapy: your vet will determine the kind of bacteria that have infected the abscess and prescribe oral medication and/or an antibacterial ointment based on the severity of the infection.
Other Reasons For A Bump On Your Dog’s Ear
Some of the other less common reasons we might see bumps on a dog’s ear are:
- Foreign body pyogranuloma is an inflammatory process that is produced by the entry of a foreign body. One example of the pathogens that produce this injury in dogs is the grass-like weed called foxtail. They can enter the ear canal and can also attach themselves to the outer ear. Treatment requires disinfection of the area and surgical removal.
- Canine leproid granuloma is a chronic inflammatory process caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium spp. It is identified by the appearance of single or multiple bumps located in the ears. Treatment involves surgery to remove the lesions.
- Sebaceous cysts are non-inflammatory and benign bumps that occur due to overproduction of sebum (oil). Surgical removal is the most common remedial treatment, but many are left untreated if they don’t cause any issues.
There may be some more reasons for bumps on your dog’s ears and some might not be detrimental to your dog’s health. However, in any case of bumps developing on or in your dog’s ear, take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Cysts, lumps and inflammation in the ear could damage your dog’s ear and impair their hearing abilities, especially if they are left untreated.