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Hematoma: Swollen Dog Ear Flap and How to Treat it

Updated on February 1, 2016
Swollen ear flap, or hematoma, in a dog.
Swollen ear flap, or hematoma, in a dog.

One of the most common ear problems for dogs is swollen ear flaps, also called ear or aural hematomas.

Ear hematomas can be a very painful. They cause the ear flap to swell with blood and, if untreated, can lead to permanent deformation of the ear.

  • What is ear hematoma? What causes it and how is it treated?

We will answer all of these questions below.

What Is a Hematoma?

A hematoma develops after a blood vessel breaks. The blood oozes out of the broken vessel and pools in the ear, leading to swelling.

The swelling always occurs in the pinna, or the floppy part of the dog’s ear. The accumulation of blood can resemble a large blood blister.


Itchiness, redness, and swelling in a dog's ear.
Itchiness, redness, and swelling in a dog's ear.

There are several signs that your dog is suffering from an aural hematoma.

  • Swollen and puffy ear. The swelling will always occur in the dog’s ear flap. It may look like a small balloon.
  • Warm and soft. The swollen area will normally be warm and soft because it contains blood.
  • Shaking. Your dog will frequently shake its head.
  • Rubbing. Your dog will rub its ear because it is in pain.
  • Red color. The ear flap will be reddish.
  • Tilting. Your dog will start obsessively tilting its head to one side.
  • Aggression. Your dog may act aggressively when you touch the swollen ear flap.

What Causes It?

Hematoma May Develop When:

Cause
Why?
Injury
When dogs fight or play, a blood vessel in the ear can break.
Excessive shaking
A dog that shakes its head vigorously could cause a hematoma.
Itchiness
Itchiness that leads a dog to scratch often could lead to a broken blood vessel.
Ear mites
Ear mite bites can become infected and itchy, which may lead a dog to scratch their ear and break a blood vessel.
Draining, surgery, or incision may be necessary.
Draining, surgery, or incision may be necessary.

There is no home remedy for an ear hematoma. Once you suspect that your dog is suffering from one, take them to a veterinarian. He or she is going to treating it in one or several of the following ways:

  • Incise the skin. They will make an incision and drain the blood that has accumulated in the ear. After draining of the blood, the veterinarian will stitch the ear. This procedure is very simple and takes just minutes to complete.
  • Surgery. The veterinarian may perform surgery on the affected ear. During the surgery, the veterinarian will cut open the ear and drain out all of the blood. After this, the ear will be bandaged and allowed to heal.
  • Draw out the fluid. A simple syringe can also be used to draw out all the fluid and blood from the hematoma. Veterinarians commonly use this treatment option for hematomas that are very old and small.

NOTE: If an ear hematoma is not treated properly, it may reoccur and permanently disfigure the dog's ear.

Your vet may use a syringe to drain the blood from the ear flap.
Your vet may use a syringe to drain the blood from the ear flap.

Prevention

You can prevent hematoma from developing by following these tips:

  • Monitor your dog. One of the major causes of ear hematoma is fighting or violent play. If you can prevent your dog from engaging in these things, then you can save it from injury.
  • Watch for infection. Prevent your dog from shaking or scratching its head by watching for signs of infection or mites. Once you see your dog shaking its head, seek diagnosis and treatment.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Karen Haas 2 weeks ago

      My poor dog has a bad swollen ear & I can't afford a vet.

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      Donna 5 weeks ago

      I called my vet about my boxer/pitt mix pet friend, they said it's a hematoma & that they will probably insert a drain line into her ear. Is that necessary?

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      jimmissy@gmail.com 7 weeks ago

      My sister's dog had this and and started using Arnicare gel it took it away in a week and a half, She rub it on both sides of the ear. It's a homeopathic medicine and you can find it at a health store.

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      Kimboleycali@gmail.com 4 months ago

      A hematoma will go away by itself. It does take awhile. The body will absorb the blood in the ear flap. The vet does recommend a surgical procedure to drain the blood and stitch the flap to prevent a future hematoma. If you live on the west coast or someplace where vet cost are high, it will be worth it to drive to the mid west. I recently spent 100 for gas and had a tumor removed and a ruptuted hematoma sutured for 225.00. This would have cost me well over 1500.00 in Calif.

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      Sherrykoser@gmail.com 4 months ago

      My dog has a big pus pocket on her bottom lobe part of her ear can I take a needle to drain it my self or not.

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      tammy 7 months ago

      My yorkie currently has a huge hematoma. I took her to the vet and they gave me medicine for a yeast infection in her ear and said the hematoma should be gone by itself in 2 to 4 weeks. The yeast infection must be causing her ear shaking to make the hematoma. anyhow, if you can't afford a vet try some monastat cream in the ear. the vet did a test and it is a yeast infection but your dog could also have fleas or mites. You can try dog mite med from the pet store if you think it is mites.

      Bad thing the vet said is the ear may not stick up properly later. so sad. I will let you know. This is day 4 of this hematoma. Also I am trying preparation H on the bump (not in year).

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      Jeff 7 months ago

      Leeches work well for people who have trouble getting the ear drained. U can order them online. Just make sure you order at least 15 of them. It takes longer than a syringe but was easier for me, you just have to make sure they dont shake it off.

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      Jenny 7 months ago

      Kristi, although bets do not recommend it, doctors also recommend we eat all healthy n organism and do we all??? No. So you can either do to the local store with a pharmacy and but a syringe to drain (may need assistance holding down your beautiful baby)and try to get all of the blood out, the next day massage the ear to help the ear heal with out deformation. I've spent over 1000 dollars on my pitbull procedures and steroids and all that bullshit. If u want it done properly drain the whole thing. And wrap the ear on to the top of your dogs head to keep his ear pretty much as scaled as possible it still may fill up but it is still better than wasting 16 hundred dollars for the get to almost kill my dog with steroids, then still have to deal with his ear. A MONTH LATER. It's still huge and I'm done with the stupid get who went to school and still doesn't do their fam jobs right. These are our children [maybe just me] either way if my pediatrician pulled this bullshit with my kids I'd already be incarcerated. Point of the bs, do it yourself unless you see infection [ear super hard] or faiat at the sight of some blood.

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      brenton Bruns 7 months ago

      Pets really take to kratom tea watered down with 2 parts water 1 part kratom tea....

    • Joanne8177 profile image

      Joanne8177 7 months ago

      I had a staffy that came upstairs one morning with an hematoma from ear shaking. Took her to the vets and he recommended the only way for complete recovery was surgery and plastic plate stitched onto the ear to keeps its shape. Went with that and it worked very well but it was about a month with a cone which is tough. Three years later her opposite ear developed the same problem, being 13 years old now I did not want her to go through the surgery and recovery again so opted for the draining and prednisone method. I syringed it everyday, approx 8x per day to start and it slowly decreased the amount of fluid over the next two weeks and I would use freezing spray to numb the area first which worked well and pitbull types are tough although once in a while she would whimper a little, just make sure you use a new needle each time. As for the prednisone, I was warned that she would have pretty bad side effects, acting strangely and being thirsty and hungry a lot. After two days that became an issue and her healthy quickly went downhill over a very short period of time. After five days I slowly decreased her dosage as they cannot just stop taking it but it was too late, she was peeing all over the house, absolutely soaking our living room rug and went outside and ate so much bark that she got an internal blockage and had to be put to sleep and as it was her second one they would not do surgery plus she was too old and had a huge growth on her belly. I have a friend with a Boston/French BD cross who has a hematoma, she is 2 and they were told that they only treat now with prednisone, they had their dog on the meds for 2 months, did not drain the ear but the swelling did mostly go down but within a month now of being of the medication which had side effects of moodiness for her it has now returned.

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      Kristi 8 months ago

      I've already taken our dog to the vet for this. They drained it & injected a steroid, saying this might help to keep from filling back up & heal faster. Now it's the wkd. & his ear is filled solid with fluid! Bigger than before. Is there anything I can do to give him relief until he gets back to the vet? Ice, warm compress, etc. He acts like it really bothers him! Thank you!

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      Crystal 8 months ago

      My 2 year old beagle woke up yesterday morning with a swollen neck and dime size welts all over her body. Called vet said give her byndral so did seem to help but then comes back after about 5 hours. Neck went down bumps still there. Now her ears are swollen. Banging my head to figure out what it could be. Does anyone else know what could be. Please help. Don't have money for a vet. Just put 1300$ out 3 months ago because she jumped off the couch wrong and dislocated her elbow had to have surgery now this.

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      annoumos 8 months ago

      is their a way to treat it without a vet

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      john 9 months ago

      Can it just go away on its own

    • Madill profile image

      Madill 9 months ago

      Later after I last posted my dog developed a severe limp in her hind leg. She wouldn't bear weight on it. I took her to the vet Monday pm. I picked her up this pm post ACL repair. The Vet aspirated her pinna while she was sedated. My adult son financed it for me. He's back to being the only one in the family with a cauliflower ear. The Vet suggested Benadryl as she probably was shaking her head due to fluid on her ear. The Benadryl would dry out the fluid and keep her from shaking her head. He didn't think it was from playing. I'm thankful for living in rural America. The ACL repair was less than $900 and he threw in the pinna aspiration.

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      Vanessa 9 months ago

      I hear about infections and mites....but what if it was a simple mistake? My daughter put rubber band bows on my 5 mth old dog,....i had been gone for about 5 hrs and noticed my dogs ears were swollen....i cut the bows off and have been lightly massaging her ears and icing....the swelling has gone down some, just curious if it will be ok....

    • Madill profile image

      Madill 9 months ago

      Dog Lover, what do you want me to do? I don't have 600 and she's not hurting. I'll call the Vet Monday. I see to all of her routine care, she's treated like a princess and she's certainly not hungry. She was found abandoned in a parking lot @ 7 wks & will be 11 yo on Valentines.

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      veronicabrillon@gmail.com 9 months ago

      Thank you this was very helpful

    • Madill profile image

      Madill 9 months ago

      Jerdonclar, my son saw my dog's ear over Xmas and said, "so, I'm not the only one in the family with a cauliflower ear?". It's still not causing her any pain but hasn't gone down. No sign of itching, head shaking, not any bigger, harder, softer or smaller.

      MC, I'd follow Jerdonclar's recommendation. I may still.

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      MC 9 months ago

      My dog has one, and his vet diagnosed an ear infection. He said that there is a $600.00 surgery that can be done to treat the actual "balloon" on his ear, but that it is optional because it isn't causing my dog any pain, and there's no saying that it might not just go down on it's own. The flip side is that the hematoma may cause the ear to grow in on itself and block the ear canal eventually.

      Obviously I don't want to put my dog through an unnecessary surgery, and if I can avoid dropping $600 on an unnecessary surgery, that's also great!!

      Does anyone have any experience with this?? (as far as not doing the surgery) - the ear infection itself is being treated now with medication. My dog is not showing any signs of pain, and you can touch the hematoma without him showing any signs of pain. The only pain happened when a Q-Tip was inserted into the ear canal because of the infection.

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      Brown 9 months ago

      My friends dog has hematoma in both ear flaps. They do not have the money to take the dog to the Vet. I have offered to take them and pay for the dogs treatment, but they will not. I feel so sorry for the dog, she turns her head and will rub the against anything. I have never seen anything like this. Does anyone know of a vet in Hamilton or Fairfield, Ohio, that will do "kindnees free vet work? I can't go to sleep knowing how much pain the beautiful gentle dog is feeling. Thank you. Dog lover

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      Jerdonclar@gmail.com 10 months ago

      I lanced it, disinfected it, and maintained the same process for about 4 days and now it no longer fills up and is on the mend, plus it no longer pains him as bad and it is even a little itchy due to the healing factor. Just buck up and get some gumption and do it

    • Madill profile image

      Madill 10 months ago

      Just noticed fluid in my almost 11 year old pit mix's ear flap. She plays a lot with the new dog she wanted, a blue heeler. I guess that's how it happened. I put essential oils on it, Thieves. She loves essential oils and I use them a lot on her for her arthritis. Her two legged big brother was a college wrestler so cauliflower ears are self treated around here. I'm hoping this dries up on its own. So far it is not bothering her. I noticed it in morning TLC time.

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      Jamie 10 months ago

      My 16 yrs old Pitt has a massive hematoma. Due to the fact she was diagnosed with breast cancer back last November the vet will not due the procedures!!

      Just wondering if there's something I could use to numb the area so I'm able to use syringe to drain it???

      PLEASE HELP............

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      Meg 11 months ago

      The vet I took my dog to cost $35 for a office visit. I got hereminded ear drained, and $10 more for a steroid shot to help with her itching. Her ear swelled back up, and I took her back about a week after the first visit. It cost me. $15 for a recheck. I had her ear drained that time too. It swelled back up, and I'd hate to have her poked in the ear again. But all of you who pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars on a vet check up really need to shop around. I paid $60 total for two drainings and a steroid shot. Surgery would cost my $150, but she is 12 years old, so I'm trying to keep her away from that.

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      VIkash From India 11 months ago

      My Dog is suffering from Aura Hemotoma ,Can you Prescribed me any Medicine available in India ,Because I am unable to take my dog to any doctor ,Its very difficult ,,I want it to resolve by Medicine

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      T-Bone 11 months ago

      My vet does it for $85. + the charge for the meds he used and the meds he sent home with me, plus $8.00 for the overnight stay. Just below $300.00 total. Thank you, Dr. Tiller! Waskom, TX

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      Ang 11 months ago

      Omigoodness. The hematomas themselves are not hurting more than a blister would to you. They are caused by them shaking or itching too much, so the problem to address is what's making them itch. Usually ear mites or ear infection. The hematomas will be fine if you leave them. Like a blister. So what if their ears could be " disfigured"? It's not that serious.

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      Easiest 14 months ago

      Cheapest easiest way to treat is to monitor the dog, if he's not scratching and shaking his head, they are usually fine in a couple days. Before I spend over $2000 on a surgery, he would mysteriously get lead poisoning, 22 caliber, just saying.

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      Christine 14 months ago

      I wish I had read these comments before I have just spent $200.00 for consultation and $1200.00 for surgery I could not afford this so had to get Vetpay who allow you to pay it off fortnightly. It is 3 days later and My doggy is in alot of pain and still shaking and crying all the time, I thought I was dog the right thing as he is my fur baby and did not want to have him deformed our in pain. I am disappointed I have put him through this if there was another remedy. Money is bad enough but seeing him crying all the time breaks my heart.

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      Jammie 14 months ago

      Help!!!! my poor dog just got a Aural Hematoma infection ( Blood swelling in the flap of her ear) the vet drained her ear today and gave me some drugs. I really want to prevent surgery because of her age. I need tips ???? Please help!!! Thank you. I heard to use some kind of honey and cover it, also I heard to keep heat pad and pressure on her ear to help seal the blood vessels. I also need to know how long should I do this for??

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      Regina 14 months ago

      Just recently my dog developed what I feel now after researching a aural hematoma. We have aspirated with a needle and syringe and that helps for a while but the ear fills with more fluid. I guess I can say we've done this everyday for four days now. My question is, when does this thing ever go away?

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      Bep 15 months ago

      If I drain it myself with a needle, should I numb it somehow and with what?

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      Caryl 15 months ago

      Can I do anything to ease the pain of the swollen flap at home

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      Scott 15 months ago

      I used a needle off of a syringe pushed it into the swollen ear flap and drained it twice. After that it went away. Thanks

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      anhelica 15 months ago

      To tammi, I was wondering what vet you went to?

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      Dee H 16 months ago

      Arnica gel is also recommended.

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      Andrea 16 months ago

      Our vet charged us $200 for the consultation, some medicine for the itchiness and a screen to go around his head. He said hopefully the body will absorb it and it looks like it is but i can feel something broken in there and his ear is totally bent now. Surgery would be 1,200 but I dont want to put him through that. Im just afraid he will keep scratching and it will fill up again

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      mellie 17 months ago

      Actually, most hemtaomas resolve by themselves.

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      Val 17 months ago

      Tami, the yunnan Baiyo capsules that you gave your dog- did you give them to your dog by mouth or apply the powder to the swollen earflap?

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      PythonPrincess 18 months ago

      2100 for treatment of a dog ear hematoma is insane! Most vets where I live charge about $500 which is still insane!

      My dog is a 100 pound hound who is now on his 2nd hematoma. The first was in his other ear. The surgery is very traumatic. I'm hopeful about a non surgical option. Really, they can be drained? Hmm...I'll look into that.

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      Tami 18 months ago

      Yes there is another alternative that will not cost you an arm and a leg!! My boxer collie had one on her left ear. The first thing is to get the bleeding inside the ear stopped. Second is just like humans and a blood blister the body will break down the dry blood and reabsorb it into the body. My vet prescribed 2 Yunnan Baiyao Capsules- this completely stopped the bleeding. Then prescribed 5 Prednisone 10mg Tabs-which is a steroid to help healing and stop itching. Then after approx. 1 month it was back to normal. Her body did reabsorb the dead blood cells and the ear was not disfigured at all. By having surgery on a dogs ear you take the risk of infections and cutting into the dogs cartilage causes scar tissue to develope leaving a lumpy ear. Cost of the meds and vet visit was $ 40.00

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      Gloria 18 months ago

      My vet is charging $2000 for surgery ! I don't have this kind of money but I feel so terrible. There must be other alternatives or even homeopathic remedies .... Can anyone please give some suggestions ....

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      Alex A 19 months ago

      I don't find this particularly helpful. Especially the very first line that there are no home remedies... I haven't tried any yet, but that's contrary to quite a few pages and blogs I've read (I'm going to a lot of pages so I can cross reference)... Rather than addressing those by saying why they might not work, this page dismisses them by saying there aren't any........ Furthermore, it doesn't mention what I've read on virtually every page has said that incisions and draining, the cheaper two vet options, still leave a fairly high chance of the hematoma returning in a few weeks (the expensive option, surgery, works better but can take a while to heal)..... I'm not a vet and I haven't tried all options. But this page seems rather incomplete and doesn't really acknowledge anything I've read virtually everywhere else.... It also doesn't talk about other things that can cause the behaviors that can cause this problem, such as yeast infection, it only mentions ear mites..... It's almost like some sort of advertising for expensive procedures.....

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      Glynda 19 months ago

      Marta,

      I have 2 questions for you: 1- Where can I purchase garlic oil?

      2- How much garlic oil do I feed her & how often?

      Sorry, that was 3 questions.

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      Chris Mills 22 months ago from Maple City, Michigan

      I found your article on a site called Encyclopedial.com. Here is the URL for your article. http://encyclopedial.com/2015/12/07/hematoma-swoll...

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      Author

      myvenn 2 years ago from Ghana

      That's good to hear. Will conduct some more research on how effective garlic oil is in treating a swollen dog ear. Thanks for the information.

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      Auralsplint 2 years ago

      The first line of action once you notice your dog has an aural hematoma: Perform a needle aspiration to remove the fresh fluids before a clot is formed. Second: Use an Auralsplint to correct the broken artery causing the hematoma and keep the ear from shriveling. Do not have the archaic and gruesome surgery which does not attempt to correct the broken artery, but instead allows the continued blood flow into the cavity and out either a drain or an open wound. The cost of surgery is mostly prohibitive and rather not needed now that the Auralsplint is in use. Until you are able to perform the auralsplint treatment, make sure to aspirate on a four to five day schedule to keep a clot from forming.

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      sanjukumar 2 years ago

      A simple syringe can also be used to draw all the fluid and blood from the hematoma. Veterinarians use this treatment option normally for hematomas that are very old and small. Can it be done at home to treat streat dog. Or it has to be done through doctor treat animal special do suggest on my email scranpise@yahoo.co.in

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      sanjumar 2 years ago

      Article is very helpful indeed.

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      Marta 2 years ago

      I successfully treated a dog's ear hematoma by feeding her garlic oil. The vet suggested it.

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      mallory 2 years ago

      Maggie-find another vet. Mine does it for 400

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      Missk 2 years ago

      My belgian have the same condition with this hes head is tilting and i pity him for that ill rush him to vet this weekday thankyou for the post

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      Maggie sewade 2 years ago

      Why is my vet charging 2100 dollars for the surhery. Should i find a different vet.

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      sunny 2 years ago

      Hi my Dog ears suddenly got swollen he is shakeing his head continuesly I'm scared for my pet will it become normal