Hematomas are painful pools of blood that form outside of blood vessels. They are fairly common occurrences for dogs and cats, especially on their ears. When play involves biting or scratching, it's easy to burst a blood vessel, which can cause a hematoma. Hematomas under the skin are the most common, but they can also occur anywhere else in the body, in organs, or in the brain, which can present serious complications.
Possible Causes of a Hematoma in Dogs and Cats
Hematomas can be started by a number of activities or illnesses but are ultimately caused by a broken or leaking blood vessel. When the hematoma is on the ear, the skin will often separate from the cartilage, forming a pocket that fills with blood. This could be the result of some kind of trauma injury, like when dogs bite one another's ears while playing. Dogs with long ears are at greater risk of ear hematomas because there is more space for injury.
When the hematoma is on the ear, infections or ear mite infestations could be to blame. Both issues can cause irritation and head shaking, which may break blood vessels. In some cases, allergies, skin diseases, and blood clotting problems can also cause a hematoma.
How to Spot a Hematoma
Hematomas will lead to swelling of the affected area. When on the ear, the ear will appear thicker, sometimes even ballooning up. Ear hematomas are painful and may cause additional scratching.
If the hematoma is inside the body, away from the skin, pets may show no symptoms until it creates a blockage, leading to a seizure (if in the brain) or organ failure.
Treating Hematomas in Pets
In addition to causing pain, hematomas can also cause permanent damage and disfigurement, so prompt treatment is always recommended. If you suspect your pet has a hematoma, you should take them in for examination. The underlying cause, such as an infection, may also require treatment.
While ear hematomas can resolve themselves and reabsorb the blood over time (if there is no infection or infestation), they can be unpleasant for the pet, and because of inflammation, the ear can be permanently thicker and have a cauliflower appearance.
Depending on the severity and location of the hematoma, a veterinarian may treat it differently. A small hematoma can be drained, but there is a high risk that it will fill again within a few days. In many cases, surgery under anesthesia may be recommended to drain the blood, remove any clots, and suture across the area so that there is no space for blood to gather. A drain may be implanted for a couple of weeks to keep the area from filling again. With prompt treatment, a hematoma is unlikely to return, and there should be little damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I treat my dog's hematoma at home?
A hematoma, which is a collection of blood outside of blood vessels, can be treated at home with some basic care. However, it is important to consult with a veterinarian before treating a hematoma, as it can be caused by underlying medical conditions that require professional treatment. Here are some steps you can take to treat a hematoma at home. Restrict your dog's activity to prevent the hematoma from getting worse. Wrap ice packs or frozen vegetables in a towel and apply them to the hematoma for 10-15 minutes at a time to reduce swelling. Gently clean the area with mild soap and water and apply an antiseptic solution to prevent infection. Use a clean, dry bandage to cover the hematoma and change it daily or as needed. Watch for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. If you notice any of these signs, contact your vet right away. Hematomas can be caused by underlying medical conditions, and your vet may recommend further treatment. Also, some hematomas will require medical treatment, such as surgery, so it's essential to seek professional help if you have any doubts.
How do you treat a hematoma on a cat?
Treatment for a hematoma on a cat will depend on the size and location of the hematoma. Conservative management is usually recommended for small hematomas that are located in non-critical areas, such as the earflap. Your vet may prescribe ear drops or topical ointments to reduce inflammation and prevent infection. Large hematomas, or those located in critical areas, such as the thorax or abdomen, may require surgery to drain the hematoma and repair any damage to the surrounding tissue. Alternatively, your vet may put a needle in the hematoma to drain it. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment for your cat based on the specific circumstances of the hematoma and your cat's overall health condition.
What helps dissolve a hematoma?
A hematoma, which is a collection of blood outside of the blood vessels, does not dissolve on its own. Treatment options for a hematoma will depend on the size, location, and cause of the hematoma. In some cases, your vet may recommend observation and monitoring of the hematoma as it may resolve on its own if it is small and not causing any issues. The underlying cause of the hematoma should also be addressed and treated if possible, to help prevent a recurrence.
What helps a hematoma heal faster?
There are several steps that can be taken to help a hematoma heal faster. Keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection and promote healing. Apply cold compresses to the area to help reduce swelling and inflammation. Anti-inflammatory and pain medications can help reduce inflammation and discomfort. Surgery may be required to drain the hematoma and repair any damage to the surrounding tissue. Rest the affected area to help prevent further injury and allow it to heal. Avoid activities that may cause the hematoma to reoccur. Follow any instructions given by your vet to help ensure proper healing and recovery. Healing time can vary depending on the size and location of the hematoma, as well as the overall health of your pet.
Should I leave my dog's hematoma alone?
Whether you should leave your dog's hematoma alone will depend on the size, location, and cause of the hematoma. In some cases, a small hematoma that is located in a non-critical area and not causing any issues may be able to resolve on its own with minimal intervention. However, it's always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action. If the hematoma is large or located in a critical area, such as the thorax or abdomen, surgery may be required to drain the hematoma and repair any damage to the surrounding tissue. Your vet may also recommend other treatment options, such as drainage, aspiration, or medications. Additionally, it's important to address the underlying cause of the hematoma, if possible, to help prevent a recurrence.
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