Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Time And The Parade of Pests In Search Of Your Pet

It is that time of year again.. Spring, when everything wakes up, takes a look around, and hunts down your cats and dogs to jump on and suck the goods out.

This little cuddle bug was a new resident of our local Humane Society. He was brought to us at the clinic because he had developed what we call bilateral aural hematomas. 

An aural (ear) hematoma (clotted blood) occurs because the ear pinna (flap) is a very thin delicate structure. Essentially it is just two pieces of skin, a thin layer of cartilage, and blood vessels in between.

Aural hematomas result when the ear flap is subjected to either a hard whack (like running into a tree, or getting bitten by an over aggressive littermate) or shaking the head so violently that the ear flaps become traumatized (think ear mites, allergies, ear infections). When the blood vessels between the skin and cartilage rupture and bleed there is very little pressure or tension to allow a clot to form. The ear flap fills with blood, blows up like a pillow, and remains this way until one of two things happen;

  1. Enough time passes for the ear to reabsorb the blood. This causes the ear flap to become crinkled and deformed looking. (Which, by the way can cause subsequent increased susceptibility to ear infections as the ear canals become more closed off from the outside world). Think cauliflower ear in professional boxers/wrestlers.     OR,
  2. The hematoma is corrected surgically to remove and provide continual drainage of the blood and  surgically replace the pinna flap in its normal position as it heals.

The best treatment option to avoid the ear flap from healing deformed (although this can still happen) is to surgically correct the hematoma.

There are a few surgical treatment options to correct these. The method chosen depends on;

  1. Where the hemtoma is on the pinna.
  2. What kind of ear pinna your pet has. Does it stand striaght up, or hang down.
  3. How big the hematoma is.

If the hematoma is by the base of the ear we usually use the pie crusting technique. (See below).

For a floppy ear with a hematoma that extends to the bottom (tip) of the ear we use gravity to help keep the hematoma draining. For these I usually use a teat cannula. They are easier to place and leave a more cosmetically pleasing ear after it heals.

  1. Place a teat cannula drain if the hematoma is at the bottom of a floppy ear. I place a small amount of lidocaine to numb the area. Make a small pinhole and place the teat cannula. I suture it in place, and instruct the owner to keep the cannula patent. After three weeks we remove the cannula.
  2. Pie Crusting technique. This is done by making an incision to drain blood and then placing as many through and through sutures as possible to hold both of the sides of the pinna together (thereby placing tension between them, think of it like placing pressure on a bleeding wound).

This puppies ear hematoma is so large that we opted to place many sutures to hold both sides of the ear flap together. We were also concerned about the drain being managed, the puppy wearing an e-collar and the ears being as cosmetically pretty as possible. He does after all need to find a forever home.

Sometimes we place stents to keep the suture from growing into the skin as it heals.

How do you know that a puppy is healing?
They act like a puppy!
It is imperative to remember to keep the e-collar on as the ear heals.

Any scratching of the ears will make them bleed and potentially remove some of the sutures.

Remember this happened from trauma.

Related posts;

Aural Hematoma in a cat.

Aural Hematoma discussion by Mar Vista Animal Medical Center

Many Thanks to the doctors and staff of Jarrettsville Vet for providing such good care to the little ones of Harford County Humane Society.

If you are looking for a friend to help keep you happy, healthy, and give you unconditional love please visit the Harford County Humane Society. They have many wonderful cats, dogs, kittens and puppies just waiting for you to see the beauty in saving a life in need.

If you have any pet related questions you can find me and a whole slew of other dedicated pet lovers at The members of Pawbly are dedicated to helping pets, and it is free to use.

Or you can just visit Pawbly to share your pet's photos, your own personal pet experiences or just follow topics that interest you.

You can also find me on Twitter too @FreePetAdvice.

Enjoy the beautiful weather everyone! This is my beloved Wren, out for a little walk with mom in the daffodils. I just love her to pieces! And she is soo beautiful..

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