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What Is the Cost of a Dog’s Ear Hematoma Surgery? 2024 Price Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Aural Hematoma, The infection of the dog's ears is swelling, itching and redness like a water bag

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Ear hematomas are painful blisters that form inside the dog’s ear flap. They occur when a dog shakes its head or scratches its ears excessively. A blood-filled pocket forms when blood vessels burst, creating blood pools between the cartilage and the skin. They generally form as a consequence of otitis (inflammation and usually infection of your dog’s ears).

Does your pup need to have aural hematomas surgically removed? Even though aural hematomas are not life-threatening, they can cause pain and discomfort. Moreover, the lack of proper treatment can lead to irreversible ear flap deformities.

The dog’s ear hematoma surgery can cost anywhere between $300 and $2,500 depending on various factors. Read on for detailed estimates of the procedure cost and other fees to expect.

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The Importance of Ear Hematoma Surgery

An ear hematoma is a mass of blood localized between a dog’s ear cartilage and the skin. Whether the blood is fresh or clotted, it causes swelling of the affected region. If left untreated, it can make your dog’s entire ear appear thick and spongy.

Apart from the visible signs of small lumps growing on your dog’s pinna, here are other signs and symptoms of ear hematoma in dogs.

  • Excessive itching and scratching of the ears
  • Head shaking or tilting
  • Soreness & discoloration of the ear flaps
  • Pain and resistance when the ear is touched
  • Visible deformity of the ear’s shape

Your vet will recommend the ideal course of treatment based on the size and complexity of the problem. It is sometimes possible to drain the affected region to relieve pain and swelling. Unfortunately, this form of treatment will often only provide temporary solutions. It has to be repeated several times when the ear hematoma forms back, which can cause excessive scarring.

Surgically removing aural hematomas is the fastest and most effective means of treating this condition. The procedure is crucial because it reduces the risk of recurrence while minimizing scarring. Although letting ear hematomas heal without treatment is possible, it can lead to a “cauliflower ear.”

A cauliflower ear is a condition characterized by the irreversible disfigurement of the pinna. It occurs when an ear hematoma goes untreated, and the site’s inflammation causes scar tissue formation. This will lead to further issues, narrowing your dog’s ear canal and triggering more ear problems.

dog ear hematoma
Image Credit: Kittima05, Shutterstock

How Much Does Ear Hematoma Surgery for Dogs Cost?

The overall cost of ear hematoma surgery for dogs will depend on various aspects. They include your dog’s general health, the veterinary clinic you visit, the size and complexity of the hematoma, and where you reside.

Generally, a procedure can cost anywhere between $300 and $2,500. However, it can be as high as $3,000+ in some areas. This estimate encompasses the cost of lab tests, surgery, and follow-up care. To get a more accurate quote, speak to your vet about the procedure needed and request a detailed breakdown of the expenses you will incur.

If your vet recommends surgery, here is what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.

Draining of the Hematoma

Once your dog is under general anesthesia, your vet will make a small incision on the affected site to drain the accumulated fluid. The area will be thoroughly cleaned and flushed to remove all the blood and blood clots.

Depending on your dog’s overall health, size, and the extent of ear hematomas, anesthesia administration can cost anywhere between $90 and $1,200. Your pet will also need hospitalization for at least one day. Depending on the animal hospital you visit, this can cost between $600 and $1,200.

Stitching

Now that the wound is clean, the next step is to stitch back the ear flap. Numerous stitches are placed to reattach the cartilage to the skin while ensuring minimal risk of scar tissue formation. The stitches also help arrest the chances of the hematomas recurring.

When stitching up the site, your vet will leave a small incision. It will allow the draining of more fluid, although the site will heal on its own. If your dog has complex ear hematomas, the vet may insert a surgical drain to promote adequate drainage of fluids even as the site heals.

Golden Retriever wearing the cone of shame after surgery
Image Credit: Kyla Metzker, Shutterstock

Bandaging

It’s common for a healing site to get itchy. Your dog risks damaging more blood vessels while shaking its head to ease the itch. Securing the ear to the head using a bandage helps stabilize the ear flap and prevent potential injuries right after surgery. Your vet will also provide a cone worth around $30 to prevent your dog from scratching the healing site.

Before you go home, your vet will provide medication to help with the pain and inflammation. Typically, your pet will receive pain relievers, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Your dog will likely receive medication to treat the underlying otitis. Depending on your dog’s unique medical needs and the recommended med brands, you’ll pay $25 to $200.

Post-Operative Recovery

You should return for a vet visit in three to fourteen days to have the bandages and drainage tube removed. Stitch removal typically occurs in two weeks when the site is fairly healed. If it is not healed, you’ll need to return to the clinic to have them removed after an additional two weeks.

Stitch removal costs roughly $30. However, the overall cost incurred will depend on the times you must visit the clinic to have the healing site assessed.

Procedure                    West Coast East Coast Midwest
Office Visit $71.95 $67.95 $63.95
Ear Hematoma Surgery $166 to $2,500+ $870 to $3,000+ $180 to $2,000

Additional Costs to Anticipate

No dog is immune to ear hematomas. However, the condition has been seen in dogs with bleeding or clotting disorders, even without underlying concerns that cause them to shake their heads or scratch their ears excessively. Also, canines with skin problems and/or longer, floppy ears are more likely to suffer from otitis and therefore are at higher risk of developing ear hematomas.

When seeking ear hematoma treatment for your dog, you should consider more than just the surgery cost. Here are additional costs to anticipate.

woman cleans the ears of a welsh corgi pembroke dog
Image Credit: Marker Elena, Shutterstock

Veterinary Examination & Diagnosis

Proper diagnosis of aural hematoma is essential to ensuring your pup enjoys long-lasting relief from ear aches, soreness, and discomfort. Through visual exams your vet can confirm the presence of ear hematomas and devise a proper treatment plan.

Diagnosis may also include taking the following tests.
  • Blood work and urine tests
  • Ear swabs for microscopic examinations
  • Skin and food allergy tests

The cost of preliminary consultation with a licensed vet and diagnosis varies from clinic to clinic. It is crucial to discuss with your vet the tests needed and the costs to anticipate.

On average, vets charge between $64 and $72 for a preliminary consultation. The ear swab tests needed to diagnose ear hematoma can cost between $100 and $250. If your vet must also conduct blood work to test for allergies, you must pay about $300 to $400.

Treatment of the Underlying Cause of Ear Hematoma

During preliminary consultation and examinations, your vet will establish the underlying cause of ear hematoma. It is necessary to have the concern addressed before or after surgery to ensure your dog enjoys permanent relief from ear pains and discomfort.

Some common causes of ear hematoma that require immediate treatment include the following.

  • Skin allergies
  • Yeast or bacterial ear infections
  • Trauma to the ear flap
  • Bleeding or blood-clotting disorders
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Ear mites

As expected, vets charge treating the cause of ear hematoma separately from surgery costs. Generally, treatment costs between $30 and $100, depending on the procedures and meds needed.

How Often Should I Have My Dogs Ears Checked?

Ear care is vital in ensuring your pet’s overall health and well-being. Apart from having your dog’s ears checked by your vet during annual visits, it is crucial to always check them at home on a regular basis, for example weekly. If your pup has long, floppy ears or swims frequently, clean their ears regularly, as recommended by your vet.

Dogs have sensitive ears, and wax buildup or external factors like allergies or an ear mite infestation can increase the risk of ear infections and hematomas. Make sure you schedule an ear checkup with your vet if you notice excessive scratching of the ears, swelling, redness, or discharge from any part of the ear.

veterinarian examining the heard of a shih tzu dog
Image Credit: Elayne Massaini, Shutterstock

Does Pet Insurance Cover Ear Hematoma Surgery?

Most insurance providers offer coverage for aural hematoma under their Accidental Injury and Illness plans. However, your pet may be disqualified for coverage if the concern stems from a pre-existing condition.

Check your policy product disclosure statements or contact your insurer to determine whether your pet qualifies for coverage.

What to Do for Your Dog in Between Ear Checkups

Your dog requires quality medical care to thrive. During annual health checkups, your vet will physically examine every part of your pet, including its ears. There is plenty you can do in between the checkups to ensure your dog enjoys the best ear health.

Here is what you must do after ear hematoma surgery and in between ear examinations.

  • Follow post-surgery care instructions to the letter
  • Make sure your pet takes all the recommended medications
  • Routinely check and clean your pet’s ears
  • Seek treatment for pest infestations as soon as they happen
  • Consult your doctor promptly when you suspect your pet has an ear infection

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Final Thoughts

Surgically removing aural hematomas reduces the risk of scarring and recurrence of the condition. While the procedure can cost between $300 and $2,500, it is necessary when looking for long-term solutions.

So, is ear hematoma preventable?

Partly yes. Ear hematomas can be prevented by seeking treatment when you notice your dog scratching its ears or shaking its head excessively. Acting fast when you suspect an ear infection or trauma can save you from a significant vet bill. Most importantly, you’ll save your dog from enduring tremendous pain and discomfort.


Featured Image Credit: Kittima05, Shutterstock

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