Sahara Has to Have Surgery: Dog Ear Hematoma- Part One

Last Thursday I woke up and went through my morning routine just like I do every day. Wake up, tell Sahara good morning, collect my good morning puppy kisses, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, take Sahara potty, and sit down on the couch to eat breakfast. Sahara likes to sit on the couch with me so she can sneak a few bites of whatever I’m eating. That’s when I noticed it…

There was a little crinkle in her ear. Now let me tell you, Sahara and I have been together for over 2 and a half years, I know what every part of her body looks like. I knew something wasn’t right. I got her to turn around so I could see her ear from the front.

That’s when I saw this huge bubble taking over her ear.

Dog Ear Hematoma
See the difference between the upper half of the ear on the left compared to the right?

I had no clue what was happening. In a frenzy I tried to figure out who to call first. I settled on somebody who was likely to be empathetic, my mom. In a panicked screech I tell her what it looks like and try to show her on Facetime. She couldn’t see what it looked like on the phone, it is kind of hard to see a 3D ear bubble on a phone screen. She suggested I call somebody who knows a little more about dogs. It didn’t do much good to try to explain it over the phone the first time so I wasn’t going to try to explain it again.

Dog Ear Hematoma
Here’s another one. The upper flap of the left is significantly thicker than the right flap.

Then in typical Karlee fashion, I took to Google.

“Dog bubble ear”

What else am I supposed to type in?! I have no clue what it is. It seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Surprisingly, I found some results that looked like Sahara’s ear bubble. So I clicked on a few different links and they all called it the same thing, an ear (aural) hematoma.

A Hema-what?

A dog ear hematoma is when blood gets caught between the cartilage and the skin of the ear. When the blood vessel pops open, the blood has nowhere to go it swells in between the skin and cartilage, which to me looked like a bubble. It is heavy and has a purple tint to it.

Dog Ear Hematoma

What causes a dog ear hematoma?

For Sahara, it was probably shaking her head or scratching her ears. She’s a generally itchy dog which could be allergies. She also shakes her head especially at night, which is when I think it could have happened. Basically anything where their ear hits against something hard, a wall, their skull, their paw, pretty much anything.

Now what?

Some places I read mention leaving it and it eventually clotting, but the majority of them say it will need vet attention and more than likely surgery. With that I knew I need to call a vet because I’m not just leaving it if it’s something that could possibly need surgery.

There was just one problem… We don’t have a vet.

Since Sahara and I moved back home we haven’t needed to go to the vets and wasn’t prepared for an emergency. So I look up vets near me and find one that is close, it’s an emergency vet. A blood filled bubble ear sounds like an emergency to me so I call that one. I tell the receptionist on the phone that there is a big bubble on her ear that looks like it might be a hematoma. She said they could make an appointment for Monday. That is 4 days away, so I ask her if it’s something that needs to be tended to sooner to which her response is that they will look at it on Monday and determine what it is and then go from there.

This isn’t very reassuring to me

So I went back to Google to try to see it’s something super urgent and if it’s something I need to take care of sooner. Should I just keep that appointment or do I need to take her to a walk in vet right or what?

Meanwhile, my friend texts me with the name of her vet so I looked them up and gave them a call. I took a slightly different approach and told the receptionist  that my dog has a bubble on her ear and left it at that, to which her response was I need you to look something up. She said to look up a hematoma, I immediately told her I had already looked it up and that looked exactly like Sahara’s ear! She then told me what me the options are if it is indeed a hematoma, surgery. The doctor said he would rather make the appointment on Monday so he can check it out and do surgery then rather than Friday that way if I need anything in between appointments I can still get help.

She said that surgery was the only thing that would take care of it completely. They could drain it with a syringe but it could fill back up over and over and over again because there wouldn’t be anything preventing it from doing that.

I ask what the steps of surgery are. Here’s what she explained to me: They would make an incision opening the bubble up to let it all drain out. Then with 30 stitches they would stitch it back up in rows. She would have to wear a cone and the stitches would stay in for 21 days. There will be permanent scarring which is what’s prevent it from filling back up.

Surgery. Stitches. Scars.

I’m choking back my tears so I can finish the phone call. She asks if I wanted to make the appointment there or call around. Since I feel significantly better about going here than the first place I called, so we make an appointment for Monday. I thank her for her time and we hang up the phone.

I start sobbing. My poor baby needs surgery. She will never look the same ever again. Her ear will never look the same. The dam to the tears in my eyes is open and I don’t know how to get it to close. My heart hurts. Then I look over and Sahara is walking around without a clue as to what is wrong. She comes up to me to lick my tears, which only makes me cry harder. Getting news like this is hard to hear and even harder to explain to somebody that doesn’t understand.

The weekend came and went

Monday morning I wake Sahara up and lure her up into to bed with me to I could try to explain to her one more time what is going to happen and tell her I love her.

We went to the vet where they confirm it is a hematoma and explain the surgery to me again. I hold her face as they give her a sedative and put her in the kennel while they waited for it to have its full effect. They send me on my way and tell me they’ll call when she’s done. Leaving makes me nervous. Sure they know what they are doing but they don’t know Sahara or what she might be like waking up. Let’s be honest, they couldn’t even touch her before she was sedated even with a muzzle on and me being there, what are drugs and a room full of unknown people going to make her do.

Nonetheless, I head home and try to think of what to do. It’s weird being the only one home. It happens every once in a while but this time is different. I sit down to work on the computer and the couch is cold and empty. She’s usually the one to jump at any sound coming from out the front door so I took over that role and glanced out the door at every noise. Every once in a short while it would hit me that I hadn’t been outside in a while but it would feel weird to go out without her.

Time to pick her up

They finally call me and tell me surgery is complete and give me a pick up time. I get there nervous out of my skin because they didn’t say anything on the phone. The doctor comes into to tell me everything went as expected, that she is still a little drugged up and will need some help getting around. By some grace of god they are able to get her out of the kennel and bring her to me without her biting anyone. She comes bulldozing into the room running into everything. Her confusion is unreal, I’m not even sure she knows who I am but she did know once she turned back around that she didn’t like the nurses anymore! That’s alright she’s back in my arms now. With a follow up appointment set up, we are on our way. That’s when things get interesting…

Dog Ear Hematoma

Check here to see what happened after we got home!


*Please note: I am not a vet or medical professional, this is just my experience and the information I’ve received. If you think your dog has an ear hematoma I highly recommend finding a vet near you and following their recommendations.

16 thoughts on “Sahara Has to Have Surgery: Dog Ear Hematoma- Part One

    1. Thank you Cherri❤️ We’ve made it through the hard part, I just have a feeling I’m going to shed some more tears once the bandage comes off but she needed to have it done!

  1. I love this story, tears and all. I’m not really a pet person but my son had a kitten for about 4 months and she got to be part of my family. I literally welled up when she had to go. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

  2. Awwww. My Bubby dog had to have a major surgery (for Laryngeal Paralysis) when he was 11 and it was heart wrenching. It’s so, so scary when our babies (human or fur!) need to undergo surgery. I’m glad everything went well! <3

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