Swollen Ear: Dog
- If your dog has developed a big, swollen earflap, it’s most likely to be due to a condition called an aural haematoma (burst blood vessel inside the flap).
- There are other causes of swollen ears (see below) – your vet will examine your dog and find out what is wrong.
- Treatment for a swollen ear will depends on the cause.
- Contact your vet for an appointment if you notice your dog has something wrong with their ears – ear problems are very uncomfortable.
- Never attempt to treat a swollen ear at home.
An earflap that suddenly balloons in size, becomes hot, painful and heavy is likely to be caused by an aural haematoma (a burst blood vessel inside the earflap). It is possible (but quite rare) for haematomas to develop in both ears at the same time. Aural haematomas are usually because of an underlying ear problem such as an ear infection or ear mites.
Other causes of swollen ears in dogs
Injury. An injury to an ear may cause a mild swelling, you may also see a wound, hair loss or some bruising.
Allergic skin disease. If your dog’s ears are red, thickened and itchy this could be an allergic skin reaction, which should be checked by your vet.
Sudden allergic reaction. If both your dog’s ears become very suddenly swollen, red and puffy, they have swellings elsewhere (e.g. face, eyes, nose, feet) or are having difficulty standing up this could be a sudden, severe allergic reaction to something (anaphylaxis). If you think this is the case, call your vet immediately.
Ear infection. Ear infections don’t often cause swollen earflaps, they tend to cause a swelling inside the ear canal alongside pain, a smell and itchy ears.
Treating a swollen ear at home
Never try to treat a swollen ear at home, there are many possible causes that your vet will need to rule out. Your vet will examine your dog and use an otoscope to find out what is wrong with their ear.
Leaving an ear problem without treatment is likely to cause serious problems in the future. Attempting to treat an ear problem at home could result in severe infection, injury and pain.
Published: June 2019
Did you find this page useful?
Tell us more
Thank you for your feedback
Want to hear more about PDSA and get pet care tips from our vet experts?Sign up to our e-newsletter
PetWise Pet Health Hub – brought to you thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery
Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.
Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst