Hematoma In Dogs – Symptoms and Treatment Information


Hematomas come in a wide variety. The most commonly seen hematoma in dogs is due to scratching at their ears and shaking their heads, especially when something is bothering them, such as a parasitic infection known as ear mites. This type causes the blood vessels to break and the area to swell and bleed. The bleeding is seen right underneath the skin.

What Symptoms Are Common?

Subdural hematomas cause blood to pool outside of the brain. This blood is visible through the outer layer of skin. There is often swelling at the site as well. This can be extremely painful for dogs, but is usually not severe.

A deformity of the dog’s ear may also be noticed. This is due to the fact that the blood has nowhere to go. It forms a pool anyway it can, which can mean an oddly shaped space that forms and swells.

The area may also feel warm to the touch.

Are There Uncommon Symptoms?

Severe trauma to the head may cause a worse hematoma. It can cause neurological damage if left untreated. Seizures and comas are two associated symptoms that can develop from this type.

Hematomas that develop due to an injury to a particular organ can cause that organ to go into failure. Dogs in these instances may experience pain, urinary incontinence, itching at the site, among other things.

What Causes Hematomas in Dogs

Dogs can get hematomas in several ways. The most common way is through damage to their ears. Broken vessels will cause bleeding and swelling, as well as significant pain. Dogs that shake their heads too vigorously, or who scratch at their ears roughly, can cause blood vessels to break and hematomas to occur.

Fighting is another common culprit. A dog can easily scratch or bite another dog, breaking blood vessels in the area. This can create a hematoma.

An injury may also occur. Whether due to getting hit by a car, an abusive owner, or otherwise, serious injuries to dogs can cause hematomas to develop. These are usually located near important organs, which can cause dysfunction and failure.

A final cause is an abnormality within the dog related to blood clotting. Excessive clotting can cause bleeding.

Are Hematomas Contagious?

Hematomas are caused by trauma to a dog’s body. It is not something that is contagious and can be passed on to others.

What is the Diagnosis?

Diagnosing hematomas typically involves a simple examination. Veterinarians can easily see where swelling is located. It is especially easy to tell when there is a hematoma within the ear, as severe swelling is visible, as well as the pool of blood underneath the layer of skin.

Fluid may be withdrawn from a swollen area or lesion in order to determine if an internal bleed is present.

Hematomas within the brain can sometimes be harder to diagnose, as well as those found near certain organs. An x-ray is often needed in these situations for a proper determination. Ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs are also available methods.

What is the Prognosis?

Minor hematomas go away on their own, meaning there is little chance of death or worsening symptoms.

Major hematomas that develop internally, particularly on the brain, are much more deadly. They can lead to seizures and possibly even put a pet into a coma. Many pets show no symptoms when this type of hematoma is present, so it can go on for a long time before any signs are noticed. In these cases, death can easily result.

How Are Hematomas Treated?

It is often possible to drain a hematoma. This process withdraws the blood and fluid so that the area is no longer swollen and painful for the pet.

The area may refill with blood after a draining, so any severe hematomas within an organ will need further treatment. Anesthesia will usually be administered to a dog so he can have the blood drained properly. Veterinarians will also remove clots from the area, and create a suture so no blood can get in.

It is sometimes possible for a drain to be implemented. The vet will implant the drain into the area, and keep it there for at least a week. This allows the blood to stay drained. No further blood can pool inside of the area and cause worse damage.

Once the hematoma itself is treated, it is wise to work towards treating the underlying issue. This is especially true for hematomas that are found on organs within the body. Infections need to be ruled out, as they can sometimes cause hematomas, or even seromas to occur. This means not only blood, but also an assortment of other fluids, may pool at the site.

Treating the underlying issues will help to ensure no further hematomas develop.

Living with Hematomas

Hematomas are often quite painful, causing severe discomfort for a dog. Small hematomas can resolve on their own, meaning a dog may have to suffer for a few days or even a week before the pain subsides and the swelling goes down.

Internal hematomas can be drained surgically, and should be dealt with as soon as possible.

Prevention Suggestions

It can be difficult to prevent hematomas, as they can sometimes occur to infection or unavoidable trauma.

The best way to prevent a hematoma from occurring is to keep dogs from fighting with one another. Even a playful bite to the ear can cause blood vessels to break. It is best to encourage friendly play, rather than biting and scratching.

Dogs that are frequently shaking their heads or scratching at their ears should be checked for ear mites or other underlying issues. If these issues are addressed quickly, the scratching and shaking may stop in time before a hematoma develops.

It is best to avoid trauma to the dog at all costs, as these instances can result in an internal hematoma on the organs that is difficult to spot and deadly. Keeping dogs in a fenced in yard and making sure they do not get out is the only way to keep them safe from a possible accident.

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