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What are Ear Tumors?

If your pet has an ear tumor, it may be asymptomatic until it gets big enough to cause symptoms or unless it is visible. The majority of ear tumors are not cancerous and some do not even need treatment unless they are causing problems or pain in your dog. However, many veterinarians believe that it is best to remove ear tumors, whether they are in the tissues, bones, or glands, or need to be removed to prevent infection, pain, and growth. The tumors of the ear are most often small lumps on stalks growing from the skin, but they may also be a large mass in the ear, or just a flat discolored lesion. They can be black, purple, pink, white, or brown and they may be filled with blood, oil, or pus, depending on the location. Dogs with long, floppy ears, such as Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, and Golden Retrievers, are predisposed to ear tumors and having multiple ear infections may also be a risk factor.

Ear canal tumors are growths in any part of the ear, including the muscles, bones, connective tissues, oil and earwax glands, and outer, inner, and middle layer of skin. The outer ear canal and pinna area are more common than the inner or middle ear to find a tumor. Ear canal tumors in dogs are more likely to be benign (not cancerous) than malignant, but they should always be seen by a veterinary professional because these tumors can cause deafness and balance problems (among other complications) for your pet.

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Ear Tumors Average Cost

From 541 quotes ranging from $500 - $12,000

Average Cost

$3,000

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Symptoms of Ear Tumors in Dogs

The side effects of ear tumors depend on where the tumor is and how large it is. Some of the most often reported signs of ear tumors are:

  • Visible growth in the ear
  • Shaking head
  • Stumbling or falling due to lack of balance
  • Tilting the head
  • Swelling of the ear
  • Scratching or rubbing the ear
  • Whining or crying in pain when ear is touched
  • Foul smell in the ear
  • Bloody or yellow discharge

Types

Most ear tumors are benign (not cancerous), but only a veterinarian professional is qualified to tell the difference. That being said, there are several types of ear tumors which include:

  • Earwax gland tumor
  • Inner ear tissue tumor
  • Middle ear tissue tumor
  • Outer ear tissue tumor
  • Tumor of the bone
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Causes of Ear Tumors in Dogs

Experts are not certain what causes ear tumors, but there are several risk factors:

  • Dogs with large, floppy ears (Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Golden Retrievers)
  • History of multiple ear infections (otitis externa, otitis interna, otitis media)
  • Long-term inflammation of the ear canal
  • Repeated infestations of ear mites
  • Thickening of the ear wax for any reason (usually unknown)
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Diagnosis of Ear Tumors in Dogs

To diagnose an ear tumor in your dog, your veterinarian will need to perform a thorough physical examination, including weight, blood pressure, temperature, reflexes, pupil reaction time, heart rate, respiration rate, skin and coat condition, and breath sounds. Be sure to tell the veterinarian if your dog is on any kind of medicine, whether it is prescription or over the counter drug. Also, describe the symptoms you have noticed and how long they have been going on.

General diagnostic tests will be needed, which may include a complete blood count (CBC), chemical analysis, blood gases, liver enzyme panel, and blood urea nitrogen (BUN). If possible, a detailed otoscopic examination of the affected ear will be done to check for damage or any other tumors. Your dog will be sedated for this procedure as well as for the x-rays that are needed to look at the internal ear structure. In addition, an ultrasound, MRI or CT scan may be necessary for a more detailed examination. Finally, the veterinarian will do a fine needle aspiration for biopsy of the tumor to check for malignancy.

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Treatment of Ear Tumors in Dogs

Treatment of the ear tumor depends on where it is and how big it is, but it usually involves surgery to remove the growth. Laser surgery is used if possible, as that is the safest choice. However, in some cases, the veterinarian may have to do a surgical excision or a total ear canal ablation (TECA), if there is extensive damage from the growth.

Total ear canal ablation (TECA)

Radiographs or CT scans are used to check the tympanic bullae (middle ear) and the narrowness of the ear canal. Your dog will have cultures taken to determine the best course of antibiotics to use to prevent further infection. TECA is the removal of the ear canal, which is done if the tumor has damaged or distorted the canal beyond repair. Your dog’s ear is opened up and the whole ear canal will be removed, including the bony part of the middle ear.

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Recovery of Ear Tumors in Dogs

The diagnosis for ear tumors is good, but depends on your dog’s age, health, and where the tumor is located. As long as the tumor was benign, there is no reason to think your pet will have any lasting complications or shortened life span. In some dogs, the tumor may grow back, but this is very rare. However, if you notice another growth in the ear, be sure to call the veterinarian right away.

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Ear Tumors Average Cost

From 541 quotes ranging from $500 - $12,000

Average Cost

$3,000

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Ear Tumors Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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terrier/pit mix

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7 Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lump

My dog has a black lump on the tip of his ear it is filled with blood and is more hard than soft. It seems to be getting bigger at a slow rate but it has been over a week and we have been disinfecting and putting propolis on it with no avail. What could this be?

Jan. 3, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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2 Recommendations

This could be a small blister or a mass it is very hard to tell from the picture. Your vet can remove this for you. If it continues to grow I would have it removed.

Jan. 3, 2021

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Shih Tzu

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My dog has a huge mass on her right ear looks purple

Dec. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, this mass needs to be removed. It would be best for you to take your dog to your vet for this to be done. Good luck

Dec. 5, 2020

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Dachshund

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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6 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Tumor In His Ear Large

It started small and it's been growing it has been checked out a few years ago and it's not cancer but it's getting bigger and I can't afford to have it removed is it painful for him what should I do to keep him comfortable until I can afford to have it removed.

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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6 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Tumors in the ear can be very painful and difficult to manage It would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian, even if you can't afford to have the tumor taken out at this point. There are pain medications and topical medications that might help to keep him comfortable so that he is not suffering. I hope that everything goes well for him.

Aug. 7, 2020

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Rolo

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Jack Russell

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking Head
Itchy Ear

Good day, my baby pup has numerous almost scab looking spots in his ear, all the way form the canal to the outer layer of his ear. He scratches it a lot and struggles to shake his head but does it often. should i get it checked out

July 25, 2018

Rolo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

I think it would be a good idea to have Rolo seen by a veterinarian, yes, as there are many causes for that problem, and it seems to be bothering him and sounds painful. They'll be able to see him, figure out what is causing the problem, and get him treatment.

July 25, 2018

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Harley Quinn

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Pit bull

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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4 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Growth, Odor, Shaking Head

My 2 year old Pit Bull has a growth we believe to be a polyp in her outer ear. It is completely blocking the ear canal. We took her to a local vet and they suggested Surgery is TECA the only option for this removal or can this be treated with another less invasive option. ?

July 18, 2018

Harley Quinn's Owner

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4 Recommendations

It really depends on the type of mass and how infiltrated the mass is to underlying tissue; sometimes a less invasive option is possible but if your Veterinarian believes that the mass is malignant then total ear canal ablation would be the surgical treatment of choice. If you are not confident in the diagnosis and treatment plan you should visit another Veterinarian for an examination to get their point of view. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 19, 2018

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Kov

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Rottweiler

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lump
Smell
Oozing
Wax

My 4 year old male rottweiler has had some year problems for a few years. Found out after swobs being sent and ear flushing he has a yeast intolerance. We now wash his ears and feed him suitable food. This year he's developed a big lump growing out of the canal, can't really see in the ear at all. It was smelly, itchy it seems( but as much as I have seen before) not sure if it hurts cause he has screeched when he itches it. I kept cleaning as best as I could and it started to ooze and was then. We took him to the vets, they've given the medication I've listed below and sent swobs off to see what infection/ bacteria it is. Since then the lump has decreased in size, the steroids have given him so much energy, playing with our other dog and enjoying walks/ playing fetch. We did think he has lost a bit of weight before this but he seems to be eating and drinking fine now, if not more! Any advice on what it could be as we are still waiting results from the swobs and feeling very anxious about it all. Many thanks

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Semper Fi

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Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Foul Odor
Cloudy Left Eye, Diminish Vision, H

Our black lab, Semper Fi, is 12 years old. has a rapidly growing baseball-size tumor jut under his left ear that smells & has caused his eye, lip to droop. Doc says she can't remove it. Is there any alternative? hope?

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Jackson

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West Highland White Terrier

dog-age-icon

11 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Clump Of Brown Stuff Is Bleeding

Our 11 year old male Westie had a small brown clump in his fur near his ear. I thought it was something he picked up on a recent walk. I held the fur, and attempted to clip the clump off. When I did, he yelped and it began to bleed. I ended up cutting it in half. The remainder is bleeding. I still can't see where it might be attached to his skin. I plan to take him to the Pet Emergency Clinic. Meanwhile, what do you think this is?

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Tinku

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Indian country breed

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Scratching Or Rubbing The Ears

My 12 year Indian country breed dog suffers a button sized soft black mole at the back edge of one of its ears. The diet of my pet includes cookies,rusk and 1cup of milk for breakfast, curd rice for lunch and Indian flat bread (4 nos.chapatis)for dinner. Meat/fish is given monthly twice.He also underwent castration at the age of 3 years and is being treated with periodical vaccines since 12 years. he developed a large soft skin enlargement near his tail and become fat. he completely disinterested in walking for a long time. he prefers to lie down rather than to sit erect. He almost scratches his ears but the ears are very neat and clean. Now we reside in a place where there is no veterenarian facilities.please do kindly provide me with some valuable advice to recover my pet's health. I will really be grateful to your kindness. Thanks in advance.

Ear Tumors Average Cost

From 541 quotes ranging from $500 - $12,000

Average Cost

$3,000

Protect yourself and your pet. Compare top pet insurance plans.

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
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