In a world filled with Labradors, it is our responsibility as humans to give them the best care and get to know them best as possible. One way of doing both is to know about certain illnesses and risks in taking care of this specific breed, so that we have the opportunity to prevent dangerous things from happening and for us to be prepared to take necessary steps to curing them. Here is one illness that we have to learn about, it is called aural hematoma in Labradors.
Aural Hematoma in Labradors
Aural hematoma is a common problem encountered by dogs, especially ones that are very active and has floppy ears like Labradors. It is the rupturing of blood vessels in the pinna of the ear that form into fluid-filled pockets, sort of like a swelling from internal bleeding. The pinna is located at the tip of the dog’s ears and your Labrador is most likely to have aural hematoma when you see this part swelling.
If your Labrador has this disease, there are two most likely causes: first is excessive and aggressive scratching and second is repeated head shaking resulting to over flapping of the ears. When your dog scratches its ears excessively, it is more likely to injure itself from its nails and rupture the blood vessels. Same with head shaking, this is also the reason why dogs with floppy ears have a higher risk at having aural hematoma. When the ear hits the head of your dog, it might cause bruising and the blood will be pushed to pool at the top of the ears, hence the swelling.
Although it can be easily detected due to its external manifestations, aural hematomas can develop slowly without the owner noticing it happen. With Labradors, it is even more difficult because your dog may hide it when the ear is at rest. Sometimes also aural hematomas can occur in the ear canal, not just at the tip of the ears, because the blood can travel either way. The swelling could both feel soft and hard, depending on the duration and extent of the hematoma.
The causes of for this illness cannot simply be accounted to excessive scratching and head shaking, there are also a lot of underlying causes why your Labradors scratch their ears in the first place. The scratching of the ears and head shaking in dogs could be a signal that something is bothering them or they are not comfortable. One of the reasons for their lack of comfort and one of the underlying causes of aural hematoma is the presence of fleas, mites, or other parasites. When you take your Labrador to the veterinarian, a swab of the ear can be taken to test if there are any foreign animals invading the body of your dog. To prevent this infestation from worsening, ask your veterinarian for the best shampoo or antibiotics that could remove these bacteria and parasites. There are also a lot of home remedies that you can use to lessen the risk of your dog getting aural hematoma.
Another common underlying cause for aural hematoma is allergies, this could come from two sources: your dog’s food or environment. You can do some food tests to determine which food your dog is allergic to or do a basic research on the foods or chemicals that the Labrador breed is usually allergic. Also, the veterinarian can conduct allergy tests to determine what aspects of the living environment the dog is sensitive towards.
Be vigilant and watch out for manifestations
When you don’t pay attention for aural hematomas, your dog could worsen the situation by more excessive head shakes and scratches in their attempt to ease the pain and irritation. If left untreated, the hematoma could block the ear canal altogether, the swelling rupture resulting to external bleeding, and increase the risk for infections.
Treatment and Prevention
There are several procedures to remove or drain aural hematomas. The inexpensive and easiest method is aspiration where the vet directly inserts an empty syringe into the swelling and then extract the fluid. However, this method might need several attempts to fully drain the swelling and there is a risk of infecting the hematoma further.
One of the best option is through surgery, where the vet first drains the fluids from the ear then sews back the ear skin to the ear cartilage to prevent ear hematomas from happening again. But you should expect some scarring on the pinna.
In the end, prevention is always better than cure. So make sure that you provide a clean environment for your Labrador to prevent any bacterial invasion and be sure to know everything about your pet, especially allergies.