Swelling on My Bulldog’s Ear Flap

Hi Jan,

We have not spoke in a while I hope all is well with you and you bully.  I have a concern that I wonder if you could help me with. I noticed this morning a swelling or puffiness in my bully’s ear. I called my Vet but he won’t be in until tomorrow. When I described what I saw to the nurse she said she is pretty sure it is a hematoma and that he would need surgery.

I am very scared of surgery because I know how risky it is with Bulldogs. I have been reading all kinds of things on the internet, one thing I read was that old fashioned Vets don’t rush into surgery they suggest boiling water and adding sea salt and bathing the ear every hour, or using witch hazel.  Do you know anything about this and can you give me any advise on what I should do I am very frightened.

Thanks,  Your Bully Friend, JoAnn


Hi JoAnn,

It sounds like it’s an aural hematoma which will probably need to be drained if it doesn’t go away using the methods you know about.  It can be caused by either an insect bite, ear mites, an ear infection, or from being irritated by scratching and/or injuring the small blood vessels in the ear flap.

I think you need to have it looked at to find out what it is and proceed from there.

It would not be a surgery that should require being under anesthesia very long.  There is always a risk but if your vet is familiar with bulldogs and knows which type of anesthesia to use and the smaller breathing tubes, and if your dog is in good health, it should go fine.

You should ask him about the cures you’ve heard of.

Here’s some information on aural hematomas from The American College if Veterinarian Surgeons


An aural hematoma is a collection of blood within the cartilage plate of the ear and the skin and usually arises as a self-inflicted injury from scratching and head shaking.


Underlying causes include all conditions that result in otitis externa (infection of the external ear canal). Hematoma formation has also been associated with increased capillary fragility (e.g., as seen with Cushing’s disease).

Incidence and Prevalence

Aural hematoma is the most common result of physical injury to the pinna (the “flap” of the ear). The condition is common in dogs with chronic otitis externa, and less common in cats.

Signs and Symptoms

Swelling associated with aural hematoma is most apparent on the concave inner surface of the pinna. (Figure 1) The swelling is soft and warm in the early stages. With chronicity, fibrosis and contraction will thicken and deform the ear, resulting in a cauliflower contracture.

Risk Factors

Sources of irritation to the ear have been implicated in the development of aural hematoma. These include inflammation, parasites, allergies, and foreign bodies. Most patients usually have an associated otitis externa. Recurrence of the condition is common if the underlying condition is not resolved.

Treatment Options

Treatment options included needle aspiration and bandages, tube drainage systems and incisional drainage.  Apposition between the tissues should be restored and maintained with bandages, with fibrin sealants, with the aid of sutures, or with tissue welding using laser.  The goals of surgery are to remove the hematoma, prevent recurrence, and retain the natural appearance of the ears.

Let me know what you decide.

your bulldog pal,



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