Even a minor ear injury can lead to a scary amount of blood, so its vital to know how to stop dog ear bleeding in an emergency. Dog ear bleeds happen in a multitude of ways. They can result from a grooming accident, a dog fight, or romp through a thorny bush.
In other cases, a dog’s ears bleed for more sinister health reasons. So we will be sure to cover these too. If your dog’s ear is bleeding right now, skip ahead to our section on how to stop the bleeding. Otherwise, let’s first examine common causes that may result in blood from the ear area.
Causes of Dog Ear Bleeding
Bacterial and fungal ear infections (otitis) cause itching, discharge, and inflammation in the ear canal. However, if you notice a dark brown or red discharge that looks like blood, it is likely a severe infection deep in the middle or inner ear.
These are far more dangerous and painful than the more common otitis externa and can lead to deafness and irreparable damage to the ear. To avoid dog ear canal infections, ensure you regularly use gentle, but professional canine ear wipes to sanitize ears.
Other symptoms you may see with otitis are:
- Head tilt
- Excessive scratching, pawing, or rubbing ear against surfaces
- Visible distress
- Balance issue
- Excessive headshaking
Another indirect cause of ear bleeding is dogs who scratch their ears excessively and eventually break the skin. Dog ear bleeding from scratching can cause anything from black scabs to hot spots.
This is a separate issue from injuries because multiple underlying health problems can cause excessive scratching. Dogs may get itchy ears from infections, allergies (environmental or food), endocrine problems, immune disorders, nutritional deficiencies, or hormones.
So if your dog scratches till their ears bleed, a trip to the vet is in order.
Don’t worry; this is fairly rare, and not all tumors or growth are malignant. Still, polyps, carcinomas, growths, and tumors sometimes develop in the ears and the tiny sweat glands in the ear canal. Sometimes, these lead to crusting or dark oozing gunk. If they are damaged, they may bleed.
See your vet immediately if you notice any kind of blood or dark substance coming from inside your dog’s ears. You can also see this article if you are worried about the color of ear discharge your dog may have.
An aural hematoma is a blood blister between the skin and cartilage of the ear flap. It often causes swelling, head shaking, scratching, and head tilt. If the hematoma bursts, it can bleed profusely.
Occasionally, parasites such as ear mites can infect a dog’s ears and cause inflammation and parasitic otitis. If the infestation is severe, you may notice tiny bits of dry blood or bloody discharge. Certain ticks love to get into dog ears, particularly spinose ear ticks, which may cause inflammation and bleeding.
The most common reason a dog’s ear will bleed is some sort of trauma or injury. This could be a grooming accident or just the result of normal activities, such as playing too rough. Be aware that a ruptured ear drum can look almost identical to an ear infection, but you should see thick bloody or pus-filled discharge.
An ear infection is often to blame for an ear tip trauma since the violent head shaking can injure the outer ear flap or cause a blood blister.
Another common injury to the ears happens when dogs fight or bite one another. If you have a problem with this, see our article on dogs biting each other’s ears.
How To Stop Dog Bleeding From The Ear
If the blood stems from inside the ear canal, you need to see the vet immediately. Since anything from cancer to infections and ruptured ear drums may cause bleeding from the inner ear, there is not much you can do from home without a diagnosis and prescription treatment. However, if it’s the dog ear tip bleeding, you can follow these steps:
Step 1. Take your dog to a calm environment, and make sure you stay calm yourself.
Step 2: Gather your kit. You will need:
- Styptic powder, cornstarch, or flour
- antiseptic ointment
- Absorbent pads, such as cotton balls, paper towels, or clean towels, or gauze
- a bandage
Step 3: Stop the bleeding by applying your cornstarch or styptic powder to the wound to help the clotting. Then press the absorbent material against both sides of the ear and apply pressure till the bleeding stops. This should take roughly 5 minutes. If the bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes, see a vet.
Step 4: apply antiseptic ointment around the cut, but not on it, to avoid starting the bleeding again.
See your vet if the wound is deep, if your dog was in a fight with another dog, or if the bleeding spontaneously starts again.
What can I put on my dog’s ear to stop bleeding?
The best thing you can do for a manageable cut on your dog’s ear is to use the same styptic powder or pencil on their nails. Apply pressure for several minutes, as ears take longer to stop bleeding than nails do. You can use flour or cornstarch if you don’t have styptic powder.
However, do not use baking powder, baking soda, or any other product, as these can cause infections.
How to bandage dog ear tip
To bandage an ear:
- Fold the ear over the top of the head. Apply clean gauze to the wound.
- Using a gauze roll bandage, start at the top of the head and roll the bandage down, under the chin, and back to the top of the head.
- Ensure the bandage is firm but not too tight. You should be able to put two fingers between the bandage and the chin area.
- Roll the bandage in front of the healthy ear and then behind it with each layer so that the good ear acts as an anchor to keep it in place.
- Each time you take the bandage over the head, move it so that it crosses slightly back to the back of the previous layer, then to the front. This should create a small crisis cross pattern over the injured ear.
- Use a marker to indicate where the ear is beneath the bandage.
- If you don’t have a clip to tie the bandage, use the last length to tie the bandage together.
You can see this video for reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGCt8J-IMKo
Keeping bandages on the ear is extremely tricky. Most dogs also hate any kind of bandage around their head and will go to great lengths to get it off. Aside from a cone, you will need to get creative to keep the ear covered long enough to heal.
You can try a:
- Snood is usually used to keep long ears out of the water bowl. However, it may not keep the ears still,
- Different kinds of first-aid bandages,
- Light scarves.
Try to keep it as minimally invasive as possible. The more it irritates your dog, the more likely they are to try to get rid of it.
Do not use a liquid bandage. This needs to be applied with caution as it can lock harmful bacteria in the wound and foster an infection, delaying healing further.
How to stop dog scratching ear wound
Ear wounds are particularly difficult to keep closed because dogs love scratching or shaking their heads. So, the first step to stop your dog from scratching their ears is to ask your vet for a cone. This is the best way to prevent scratching until the wound has healed.
Why Do Dog Ears Bleed So Heavily?
Dog ears are one of your canine’s primary means of cooling off. Their ears are full of tiny blood vessels, so their body pumps blood there when the dog is hot. This gives them a large surface area to cool through vasodilation. Thus, a small cut can lead to a lot of bleeding.
On a side note, the role ears play in helping dogs cool off is yet another reason not to crop a dog’s ears.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can a dog bleed to death from a cut ear?
It is highly unlikely a dog will bleed to death from a cut ear, as the cut is unlikely to hit any major arteries. However, dogs with conditions like von Willebrand’s may be more at risk. Further, ears still bleed excessively, and your dog is susceptible to infection without treatment.
Will a dog’s ear stop bleeding on its own?
Given enough time, most canine ear wounds on the flap will stop bleeding on their own unless the dog has an underlying condition. However, left untreated, they will probably get blood everywhere and develop a serious infection. For the sake of pet health and care, do not leave a bleeding ear to heal on its own.
How long will a dog’s ear bleed?
Depending on the severity of the wound, by applying pressure with styptic powder, flour, or cornstarch, you should stop bleeding from a dog’s ear within 10 minutes. If the blood shows no sign of slowing, treat it as an emergency and get to your nearest veterinarian.
Note that ear tips often bleed and take longer to heal than most other body parts. This is especially true because dogs love to shake or scratch at their heads, reopening the wound and making a mess. To help the wound heal faster, use a cone on your dog and bandage the ear.
The ears are a delicate part of the canine anatomy; a cut or injury to the ear flap will occasionally happen. Since this area is so full of tiny capillaries, there is usually quite a lot of blood, and it can be messy if your dog shakes their head.
The key is to stay calm and immediately apply pressure, using cornstarch or styptic powder to stop the bleeding. You may then need to see your vet for stitches. Keeping the ear bandaged and preventing your dog from reopening the wound can be challenging, so be patient and get creative.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.