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Ear Injuries in Dogs


Ear injuries happen for many reasons. The following guidelines are for injuries caused by objects stuck in the ear and/or from the violent head-shaking which occurs when dogs try to dislodge the objects from their ears.


What To Watch For


Ears that appear swollen or that discharge blood are a clear indication that the dog has something stuck in his ear. The dog may even shake his head or paw at the ear to attempt to dislodge it himself.


Primary Cause


Often, dogs shake their heads violently to try and dislodge the foreign objects from the ears themselves. This, in turn, can burst a blood vessel and cause swelling of the ear flap. However, the most common cause of ear injuries are ear infections.


Immediate Care


If your dog is shaking its head:


  • Check the ear closest to the ground.
  • If a small object is visible -- a grass seed or pebble, for instance -- try to remove it with your fingers or tweezers.
  • If you can’t get the object out, bandage the ear flat against the head to avoid further damage and take the dog to the vet for treatment.


If an ear is bleeding:


  • Using absorbent pads (such as cotton pads, clean towels, or sanitary towels), apply pressure to both sides of the bleeding ear flap for several minutes.
  • Do not remove the pads.
  • Instead, bandage them and the ear flat against the dog’s head and take the dog to see the vet the same day.


If an ear is swollen:


  • To prevent any further shaking or damage, bandage the ear flat against the head immediately,
  • Take the dog to the vet within 24 hours.


If your dog shows signs of disequilibrium (losing its balance):


  • Ensure the dog’s safety by keeping it in a single room with as few objects as possible to fall against.
  • Take the dog to the vet the same day.


Tip: If you need to bandage a dog’s ear but have no gauze available, you can cut the toe off a tube sock and put that over the dog’s head. Just make sure it isn’t too tight.


Other Causes


Although ear infections are the most common cause of injury, ear-swelling can be caused by abscesses formed after a fight, mites, foreign bodies or tumors. Always have swelling and bleeding checked.


Comments  3

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  • Is my dog hallucinating
    01/18/2015 06:42am

    2 days ago My 6 yr old female gsd/pit was attacked by a 75 lb boxer pit mix who shook her violently at the ear and neck and penetrated the ear canal and 2 deep punctures on the top of her head She was almost rendered unconscious and he almost killed her until I was finally able to get him to let her go . There was a lot of shaking and biting to the ear and jaw area and blood was dripping from the base of her ear along with at least 2 deep punctures to the top of her head . she was treated by the vet who shaved the ares injured and cleaned her wounds ,gave antibiotics and ear drops , she is tilting her head as if it was a bad middle ear infection and appears to be healing pretty well , no loss of balance or swelling or bleeding , except tonight the head tilt has worsened a bit and tonight she started growling and looking at the ceiling at least twice tonight as if something was there when there wasnt anything nor was there any noises I could hear that should have alarmed her that way, is she hallucinating ? and if so what is causing the strange behavior ? the vet said she could develop fluid in the ear and to watch her but Im not seeing the symptoms he warned me of ,

  • 01/20/2015 05:22am

    That is alarming behavior, so even if you are not seeing the symptoms your vet told you to watch for, you are seeing symptoms of a different sort. If she continued to behave that way tonight, and she is still tilting her head, please get her to see her doctor and describe the symptoms. There may have been neurological damage, or the pressure in her ear may be pressing against that area of her brain and causing a reaction. The only way to know for sure is to have the doctor look at her again.

    I hope your girl feels better quick. Please come back to let us know how it worked out.

  • 01/20/2015 10:45pm

    Thank you for the advice, I had forgotten I gave her some gabapentin and looked the side effects up ,it said it can cause delusions and anxiety as a side effect so I stopped giving hit to her but the head tilt was still bad . being the weekend my vet wasnt in so Sunday night I finally gave her a 5 grain generic asprin and it seemed to help her immensely . The next morning no more head tilt , she still wants to shake a little but I try not to let her however she REFUSES to let me put her ear drops in at all even sleeps with one eye open practically so I cant sneak up on her even , And when a pit bull doesnt want ear drops , SHE DOESNT GET EAR DROPS she is still getting the cephalexin faithfully and appears to feel better but I worry about that internal ear injury healing right , any suggestions