Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Ear Hematomas, Hot Spots, and more ...

Ear Hematoma. The Complete Veterinarians Guide To Understanding, Treating and Avoiding Them
Dr. Krista Magnifico /Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian

Photo Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian

Have you ever have this happen? Your dog's ear swelling like a balloon? Judging by questions on my dog health group as well as on pawbly, it happens pretty often. Which I guess doesn't come as a surprise given how commonly dogs suffer from allergies or subsequent ear infections. Because that's how most hematomas come to be. A dog's ear is bothering them, so they shake their head like crazy and sooner or later some of the small blood vessels in the ear flap burst and blood spills out into the space. Boom, you have a hematoma on your hands.

Ear infections are behind about 40% of hematomas, allergies behind another 40%. Trauma accounts only for about 15% and the rest is idiopathic, which just means nobody knows what happened.

Many people are convinced that these things don't hurt. They do hurt, my friend. It is a reason to see a vet to have it treated. Some veterinarians prefer treating it surgically, some prefer a drain. One way or another the blood needs to come out.

Chocolate Intoxication in Pets – Not So Sweet!
Dr. Christopher G. Byers/Critical Care DVM

Repeat after me, "Chocolate is toxic to dogs." You'd think everybody would know this by now. And yet some people still give their dogs chocolate because the dog likes it. Amazingly enough, those dogs seem to be all still alive. I guess it's a good thing that chocolate toxicity depends on the type of chocolate and how much of it the dog eats. There are calculators to help estimate how much trouble their dog might be in after ingesting chocolate.

Whether your dog likes chocolate or not, just don't give it to them. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. White chocolate, actually is quite benign. But why not choose a treat that is both yummy and healthy? Why risk your dog getting sick, throwing up, having diarrhea or even abnormal heart rhythms or seizures?

Curious what makes chocolate toxic to dogs? Learn about it in Dr. Buyers' article.

Hot Spots Hurt!
Dr. Judy Morgan/Naturally Healthy Pets

Hot spots are nasty and can get quite bad in a hurry. Jasmine had one couple of times. Fortunately, I caught it quite early the first time and really early the second time. The first time I didn't know what to look for. Jasmine was scratching her cheek a bit, which was unusual, but not really excessively. I found a little chunk of fur on the ground, I didn't know what it meant. It was tiny and not where she's been resting. As she did keep scratching off an on, I knew something was up so we went looking. At that time the area seemed to have a few what looked like pimples. Hubby wanted to squeeze them but I insisted that things shouldn't be squeezed without knowing what they are.

Do you doubt this would hurt? And they can get way worse than this.
Photo Dr. Judy Morgan

Being new to such things, I insisted we saw a vet. By the time of the appointment more fur came out and the area enlarged and started looking a bit raw. And that was just a few hours from the time I noticed something was going on. The vet diagnosed it as a hot spot, shaved the area and put Jasmine on antibiotics. We were to keep it dry and keep Jasmine from messing with it. We were using black tea to help it to stay dry. It cleared our quite quickly.

Some time later, a year or two, I just found a little chunk of fur on her bed. I didn't even see her scratching herself. But I knew what that little chunk of fur meant. So we went to the vet immediately. This time it only needed to have some fur shaved and we could treat it topically. I caught it before it could actually become a wound.

In Jasmine's case it was decided that her underlying cause were allergies. Plus hot moisture. Both times we were taking her swimming. From then on we always made sure we dried her really thoroughly after each time, particularly her mane which was pretty thick and that where the hot spot appeared each time.

The thing with bacterial infections, they can move like a wild fire. It can look like almost nothing and become a huge disaster by morning. Really huge disaster. The trick is to notice it and do something about it before it becomes a big problem.

Dr. Judy offers tips on how to deal with hot spots at home. If my dog started with one, and it was as tiny as Jasmine's second one, I might attempt to deal with it on my own. As long as it's not just before the weekend. Monday to Thursday, starting hot spot caught early, I might work with it myself. Come Friday, I'm not likely to take chances. That's me. Always rather safe than sorry. I doesn't mean my dog has to go on antibiotics. I don't like giving antibiotics for every little thing which can be resolved otherwise. But I'd still want my vet involved just in case.