Blood blisters, or hematomas, are blisters that form on your dog and are filled with blood. If you ever see a blood blister on your pooch you may have some questions: What causes blood blisters? Can blood blisters be prevented? Should I seek veterinarian care if I see a blood blister on my dog? What, if anything, should I do to treat a blood blister on my dog?
What is a Blood Blister?
Blood blisters are hematomas, or blisters filled with blood that form under your dog's skin. The most common area for you to see a blood blister is on your dog’s ears, but these blisters can form on other parts of the body as well.
The reason blood blisters are most commonly found on or near a dog’s ear is because, dogs that have ear infections or mites may scratch or shake their heads in response, causing the ear flaps to slap against their head. When this is done excessively, it can cause hematomas to form under the skin of the ears. This can lead to further scratching and head shaking and more hematomas.
Blood blisters are caused by irritation and excessive scratching; however, they can be painful and irritating to your dog. If you dog finds blood blisters irritating and painful then they will be more likely to scratch the spot of the blister which could cause it to become worse or infected.
What Causes Blood Blisters in Dogs?
As mentioned above, blood blisters are caused when your dog has a spot, or spots, that are irritating them. By scratching themselves repeatedly or shaking their heads vigorously, they can cause damage to the skin. If the skin becomes damaged a blister can form where blood collects under the skin.
Other symptoms of a blood blister include:
- Swelling of the area
- Redness of the area
- Deformation where the blister is located
- Avoidance of touch or pressure
- Discoloration of the skin and surrounding area
Blood blisters can be worsened if the dog continues to repeatedly scratch or shake their heads, thus damaging the area further. A damaged blood blister can rupture causing your dog more pain, and possibly infection.
Blood blisters can also happen internally; however, they are harder to notice and must be diagnosed by a veterinarian. Internal blood blisters can be caused by damage to your dog such as an accident, dog fight, or other bodily harm. If your dog has an internal blood blister the organ that it rests on could become damaged. Even though there are not many signs that you can see your dog may experience the following symptoms:
- Neurological damage
- Organ failure
Can Dog Blood Blisters be Prevented?
Some blood blisters can be avoided, but not all blood blisters can be prevented completely.
If you notice that your dog is scratching or shaking their heads excessively due to irritation then you should seek veterinary care in order to help prevent a blood blister. If your dog is experiencing an ear infection or skin infection it is better to treat it prior to your dog causing a blood blister. By avoiding the blood blister and taking care of the initial problem your are protecting your dog from more pain and the potential of an infection or worse injury.
To prevent your dog from an internal blood blister try to keep them out of dog fights and away from any physical bodily harm that may cause internal injury. Ways to do this include keeping them leashed when on a walk, or in a fenced area when they are outside.
Should I Seek Veterinary Care?
Even though blood blisters are able to heal on their own, it can take a long time – several weeks or months. Remember that they most likely cause your dog pain and your dog is at risk of causing the blister to worsen or open and become infected if they are left to scratch the area or shake their head.
To avoid further damage to your dog, if you see a blood blister, seek veterinary care. A veterinarian is the best person to diagnose and treat a blood blister. Not only can a veterinarian treat the original problem that caused your dog to scratch or shake and a blood blister to form, but they are also best suited to offer treatment. The different treatment options as:
Option 1: Depending on the location and size of the blood blister, your veterinarian may drain the hematoma of blood; however, draining sometimes isn’t a perfect solution, as the area can refill with blood.
Option 2: It may be necessary to put in a temporary drain at the blister site to prevent blood from accumulating.
Option 3: Surgery under anesthesia may be the next option, especially with internal hematomas that aren’t near the skin. With surgery, the blood is drained, the clot is removed, and the area is sutured so that blood cannot re-enter the area.
Option 4: In cases of hematomas on the ears, the ears may be bandaged to prevent further slapping against the head, and your dog may have to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent further damage.
What Should I do to Treat a Blood Blister on My Dog?
Do not, under any circumstances, try to drain or burst a blood blister on your own. This will only cause more damage to your dog because you could introduce bacteria into the already damaged area.
If blood blisters are common on or around your dogs ears and you have spoken to your veterinarian about waiting to seek treatment, they may recommend that you use the Elizabethan collar to see if the blister will go away on its own. This method of treatment is only suggested if the blood blisters are small, common, go away quickly, you have already spoken to your veterinarian about this course of treatment, and you know the potential risks of delaying treatment.