Swelling in your dog’s ears can be a sign of various conditions that almost always require a visit to the vet. Your dog’s ears are very delicate and are filled with lots of blood vessels, which means that it does not take much to cause swelling in this part of their body. There are various conditions that can cause your dog’s ears to swell, and the more that you know about these conditions, the better.
You will usually have to take your dog to the vet to have a swollen ear evaluated, but if you know why your dog’s ears are swollen, you can help with diagnosis and treatment. Many of the reasons that your dog’s ears might be swollen are readily treated, so you do not need to panic if you notice that your canine companion has a puffy ear.
1. Ear Mites
This is by far the most common reason for swollen dog ears. Ear Mites are small parasites that feed on the wax and oils inside your dog’s ears. This problem is more common in puppies, but it can impact dogs of all shapes and sizes. Because the mites are a nuisance, your dog will start scratching at their ears. This leads to swelling in the ears and can lead to skin infection as well.
Treatment often involves treating both the ear mite infestation and the secondary damage to the ears that have been caused by scratching. Dogs with ear mites can also cause their ears to balloon with hematomas, which might need surgery to fix. Ear mites are more common in some parts of the country than others, and some dogs seem to be more prone to getting them.
2. Ear Infection
If your dog has an ear infection, their ears might be itchy or painful, which can lead to scratching at the ears. This causes all kinds of problems, just as in the case of ear mites, and can lead to painful and swollen ears which need treatment by a veterinarian. Some dogs will also shake their heads a lot when they have an ear infection, which can cause broken blood vessels in the ears.
Ear infections can eventually lead to severe damage to the structures inside your dog’s ears and can even cause deafness in dogs who have had an infection for a long time. This is a condition that needs attention from a vet right away to be managed. Ear infections are more common in some breeds than others, and you might end up getting a lot of practice at dealing with ear infections if your dog has ears that are floppy.
3. Ear Hematoma
If your dog has been in a fight or has been scratching at their ears or shaking their head, they can cause blood vessels to break in their ears. There are many blood vessels in a dog’s ear which can lead to a hematoma forming very rapidly. Some dog’s ears will be like huge puffy pillows from a hematoma.
This condition needs surgical treatment from a vet to resolve, and you will want to get your dog to the vet right away if their ears are hugely swollen. This is a more common problem in dogs with long and floppy ears, but it can happen to any dog breed, and both adult dogs and puppies can be affected. Ear hematomas can be very painful, and your dog’s ear could be seriously damaged by the pressure of the hematoma pulling at the tissues. You will want to address ear hematomas right away to prevent long-term damage to your dog’s ears.
Dogs can get ear tumors, which can get quite large and become painful. These tumors might have started out growing on the inside of the ear, where they were not very visible until the tumor became big enough. This can be a real surprise in some cases, especially if the dog has not been bothered by the tumors and they were tucked inside the ear until they grew.
Tumors might need to be surgically removed and biopsied to be sure that they are not cancerous growths.
5. Fungal Infections
Fungal infections can be tough to fight, and they can often be mistaken for other conditions. Fungus can grow in your dog’s ears just like bacteria. This happens most commonly in dogs with long and floppy ears or dogs who spend a lot of time in the water. Your vet might have to take a scraping of the skin inside your dog’s ears to have a lab confirm that the reason for their puffy ears is a fungus and not bacteria or other conditions.
Fungal infections can necessitate a long recovery and treatment period, and you will need to be committed to taking care of your dog’s ears until the fungal infection is fully resolved. If you do not finish treatment, your dog’s ears will likely swell up again, and you will have to start over again with treatment.
Dogs With Swollen Ears Should See the Vet
If your dog has swollen ears, you will need to make an appointment to see your vet. A dog’s ears are very delicate, and the damage that has been caused by swelling can lead to other secondary issues. In the case of ear hematomas, surgery will usually be needed to fix the problem, and even ear mites will require prescription medication to treat.
Don’t assume that your dog’s swollen ear will resolve on its own. It is very hard to keep a dog from picking at a swollen ear and scratching, which will often lead to further issues that you should try to avoid. Your vet will be able to help you to get your dog on a treatment protocol that will resolve the issue rapidly in most cases.