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Bumps in Dog Ears Causes & Treatment

Bumps are more common in old dogs, puppies and dogs with a compromised immune system. These bumps can be caused by a wide range of diseases and conditions most of which are not life threatening and can easily be treated and cured.

A pimple in your dog’s ear can be painful or itchy and you will see a dog scratching ear and shaking head. It could also lead to a secondary infection due to wounding that result from scratching.

However, if your pet has bumps, before trying anything, it is very much important to consult your veterinarian to determine whether it’s something to worry about or not.  Here are common causes and accompanying possible treatments of bumps in dog ears.

bumps in dog ears
white bumps in dog ears

1.       Insect Bite

The bites from a poisonous spider or insects such as hornets, ticks, midges, fleas, bees or wasps can cause bumps on the dog’s ear flap. The site of the sting fills with fluid and swell. The bump due to insect bite can be white, red or brown in color. The bumps can sometimes get infected and cause a severe allergic reaction.

Treatment:

Insect bite bumps on a dog’s ear flap can be treated with simple home remedies which include:

  • Application of aloe Vera gel.
  • You can gently apply a paste of baking soda and water several times a day till the bumps go away.
  • In cases of irritating bumps, you may use milk of magnesia, hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion several times a day to ease the irritation.
  • Bathe the dog with Epsom salt solution.

2.       Skin Cyst

Skin cysts are common and can appear anywhere on dog’s skin. They can develop as a result of infection, clogging of sebaceous glands (oil glands) or around foreign bodies lodged inside the skin.  Usually, skin cyst grows very slowly and doesn’t cause pain; however, they can become infected or inflamed with the overlying skin becoming red, tender and sore. When the cysts are squeezed they produce a cheesy white discharge.

Treatment:

A skin cyst usually heal by itself over time, but you may need to consult with the veterinarian if your dog appears to be in pain, the cyst grows rapidly in size, shows signs of infection or raptures. After careful examination by your vet, he may decide on the most appropriate approach to undertake in removing the cyst. He may recommend:

  • If the skin cyst is not harmful in any way or isn’t interfering with your dog’s life, your vet may suggest just letting it be.
  • If the skin cyst is causing a lot of problems, your vet may recommend surgical removal.
  • Your vet can also recommend surgery if the cyst ruptures often or keep coming back or if it is likely to cause an infection.
  • Home remedies such as warm compress, application of tea tree oil or turmeric can help to get rid of the skin cyst.

3.       Hives (Urticaria)

Hives also known as urticaria not only affect humans but it also affect pets and other animals. It is usually a sudden outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps or plaques on the skin either as a result of the body’s reaction to certain allergens or for unknown reasons.  Hives usually cause itching and may also burn or sting.  Other than bumps on ears, common symptoms of hives in dogs can include:

  • Swelling around the muzzle
  • Excessive scratching
  • Swelling around the eyes, which can cause them to close
  • Drooling, if the muzzle begins to swell
  • Medium to large areas of redness and swelling on the face, legs and abdomen.

Treatment:

It is uncommon for hives to resolve by themselves. Failure to treat them can lead to a more serious reaction as the allergy spread to other parts of the body. It is usually recommended seeing a veterinarian as prompt as possible. Hives on pet ear are generally treated with corresponding doses of antihistamines such as Benadryl or steroids depending on the severity of the reaction.

You can also prevent a recurrence of hives in your pet by avoiding your dog’s exposure to allergen that causes reaction.

4.       Histiocytomas

Histiocytoma is a benign skin tumor that commonly occurs in young adult dogs. Histiocytoma is common in certain breeds that include boxers, Dachshunds and Labradors. Even bulldogs face a greater risk of getting this benign tumor.

The main symptom of a histiocytoma is a small, firm mass with a dome or button-shaped on the surface of dog’s ear flap.

Histiocytomas do not cause any harm and there is no need to worry about it, although pet owners are likely to get scared after seeing histiocytoma, because they are ugly and appear as red colored protruding mass of tissue. Usually, they go away on their own without causing any problem.

Treatment:

First, a veterinarian will have to do a biopsy to make sure that the tumor is non-cancerous (benign). Usually, histiocytoma are small and do not require much effort to remove. Your vet will carry out a simple surgery to remove the histiocytoma.

5.       Injury/Trauma

Bumps on a pet’s ear can be due to injury sustained from other pets or from other animals. Sometimes the injury can fester beneath the skin’s surface to form an abscess, swelling before breaking open.

Treatment:

If your dog has bumps on ear flat due to trauma sustained from fighting, you do not need to go to the veterinarian to have it treated. You will only need to keep the injury clean and keep flies off. Many vet recommend applying an antibiotic ointment or cream to prevent infection.

In case your dog has been in extreme weather condition and you suspect frostbite, the pet need to be examined and possibly a surgery need to be conducted to remove the bump before it becomes gangrenous.

6.       Aural Haematoma

An aural hematoma is a collection of blood (blood pockets) inside the pet’s ear or on the cartilage of the pet’s ear flap as a result of a ruptured blood vessel.  The condition usually arises as a self-infected injury from your pet’s scratching and head shaking. Due to hematoma, a section of the ear can rapture and develop an infection. Scarring may also occur once the fluid dries up and swelling goes away.

Treatment:

Usually, the first treatment is to drain the haematoma to relieve the pressure and pain associated with the build-up of fluid within the ear flap. Medications may be injected by the vet within the ear flap to reduce swelling and inflammation. The veterinarian will also have to examine the cause of aural hematoma and might recommend antibiotics or antifungal medications if the ear canal is infected.

7.       Allergies

bumps in dogs ears
tiny bumps in dog’s ears

Pets too suffer from allergies. Allergies in dogs occur when your dog’s skin is exposed to irritating substances within the immediate environment. Substances that may cause allergic contact dermatitis include:

  • Poison ivy
  • Nickel and other metals
  • Certain topical antibiotics
  • Dyes
  • Carpet deodorizers
  • Insecticides
  • Rubber, wool and other common materials

The symptoms of allergies in dogs involve lesions on places that have very little hair and have made direct contact with molecules such as ears, nose, muzzle and lips. The skin lesions usually appear red and itchy with small bumps or vesicles.

Treatment:

It is usually difficult to treat allergies in dogs; however, you can manage the allergies by restricting your pet’s exposure to any offending molecules in your home and the pet’s immediate environment. This may include replacing certain items like dog beddings, food bowls and avoiding the use insecticides that cause inflammation and itching to your pet.  Also, you can consult your doctor about the use of topical shampoos, biotin, antihistamines or fatty acids.

To prevent your dog from suffering from allergies, you need to consider the following:

  • Clean and rinse food bowls on daily basis.
  • Use hypoallergenic shampoo and detergents regularly to possibly remove any allergen in your pet’s fur.
  • Make sure the pet’s immediate environment is clean.

8.       Warts

Warts are common in young, old and dogs with a compromised immune system. They usually look like small skin tags or several cysts or lumps. Warts on dog’s skin are caused by papillomavirus, which is a highly contagious virus. Dogs that walk around freely or those that go to dog parks can easily get warts due to social contact with other dogs.

Treatment:

Warts in dogs will generally disappear on their own over a period of time (about 5 to 10 weeks), and therefore treatment may not be necessary.  However, if warts fail to go away after several weeks, they can be removed either surgically or by cryosurgery.

Dogs with warts need to be quarantined (kept separate from other dogs especially puppies and old dogs).

9.       Abscesses

Just like in humans, a skin abscess in pets is a swollen lump that contains an accumulation of dead cells (pus) under the skin caused by an infectious agent such as bacteria or fungi.

An abscess generally begins as a little bump or a pimple that eventually grows into an inflamed, fluid-filled cyst. The skin surrounding an abscess is often painful and warm to the touch, in some cases; an abscess can be extremely hard and firm.

Treatment:

An abscess on pet’s ear can be removed by a veterinarian. Usually, abscesses are very painful especially in puppies and therefore the vet may anesthetize the pet before removing the abscess. The vet will have to clip the fur around the swelling and disinfect the area with an antibiotic or surgical scrub solution like betadine.

10.   Lipomas

Lipomas in dogs are round, soft tumors of fat cells that grow very slowly under the skin. A lipoma feels doughy and usually isn’t tender, moves readily with slight finger pressure. Lipomas are more common in obese dogs. Common locations of lipomas in dogs include upper back, chest, abdomen and ears.

Treatment:

Many pets will not require the lipoma to be surgically removed unless it is causing discomfort. Also, if the diagnostic tests indicate that the lipoma is aggressively increasing in size; your vet may advise surgical removal.

11.   Skin tags

Sometimes dogs can develop small skin lumps on the surface or just under the ear skin. These can be skin tags that are common as a dog ages. Though the skin tags can be unsightly, they are quite harmless and can appear anywhere on a dog’s body. Very often, they are connected to the body by a stalk-like tissue. Some skin tags are small, round and look like grains of rice while others are bigger  and can grow to the size of a piece of grape.

Treatment:

Often, skin tags on pets skin does not cause any harm. However, they can be removed through surgical excision.

 Additional resources:

  1. Bumps and Lumps on Dogs: canna-pet.com
  2. I Found Lumps and Bumps on My Pet. How Serious Is It?vetstreet.com

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