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What is Hygroma?

Due to the repetitive trauma of lying on hard surfaces, your dog may develop a hygroma. A hygroma is a soft, swelling under his skin filled with fluid over a pressure point or bony prominence. Hygromas are treatable with the course of treatment depending on the size and severity of the hygroma and whether there are additional issues like ulceration or infection.

A hygroma is a noninfectious, inflammatory response to trauma presenting as a soft, subcutaneous swelling filled with fluid, typically over a pressure point or bony prominence.

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Hygroma Average Cost

From 339 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,800

Average Cost

$600

Symptoms of Hygroma in Dogs

Should your dog have a hygroma, you will notice a soft subcutaneous swelling filled with fluid (yellow to red in color) over a pressure point or bony prominence. Hygromas vary in size, but can grow to two inches in diameter, and are often developed on the olecranon of the elbow. With a hygroma, your dog will typically show no signs of systemic illness and will not exhibit pain when touched. Hygromas are often bilateral. If the hygroma has been present for a significant length of time, severe inflammation may occur, along with:

  • Ulceration
  • Infection
  • Abscesses
  • Granulomas
  • Fistulas
  • Tissue erosion

Should a hygroma become infected, it may be painful and warm to the touch.

Types 

While there are not different types of hygromas, it is important to note that hygromas can be complicated with comedones and furunculosis. Also, follicular cysts or calcinosis cutis circumscripta may develop at the sites of the hygromas in some dogs.

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Causes of Hygroma in Dogs

A hygroma is caused by repeated trauma. Lying on hard surfaces (such as pavement) may produce an inflammatory response in your dog, which will lead to a dense-walled, fluid-filled cavity and the development of a soft, fluid-filled swelling. The swelling will typically be found over pressure points, particularly of the arm and leg joints. A hygroma is more likely to occur in larger breeds of dogs, where more weight is put on the bony area, as well as those that are more sedentary (for example after recovering from surgery, or in the dog’s elderly years).

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Diagnosis of Hygroma in Dogs

Your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination of your dog. You will want to let your veterinarian know when you first noticed the swelling on your dog, as well as whether you have noticed any changes in your dog’s behavior. Your veterinarian may choose to conduct a biopsy to confirm diagnosis, particularly if lesions look unusual.

When viewing a hygroma macroscopically, it can be seen that it is separated from the skin. It will show a tough, dense wall and be filled with fluid that can be somewhere between yellow and red in color. The color is dependent upon the degree of trauma associated with the hygroma, leading to a larger or smaller amount of red cells. The lining of the sac will appear pale and can be smooth or rough.

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Treatment of Hygroma in Dogs

Hygromas do not always need treatment. Oftentimes, we just monitor them.

When hygromas are small, protective padding (bandaging the area and soft bedding) may lead to their being resolved. If that is not successful, the hygroma can be treated with aseptic needle aspiration and corrective housing. It is important that your dog have soft bedding or padding over pressure points in order to prevent additional trauma. After about three weeks a protective callus should have formed. 

Should your dog have chronic hygromas, surgical drainage, flushing and Penrose drains may be recommended. Three weeks after surgical drainage the drained lesions should be dry; bandages can be removed at six weeks. Should lesions develop, small ones can be treated with laser therapy. If your dog experiences severe ulceration he may need extensive drainage, surgical removal or skin grafts. 

There is a chance that your dog’s condition will not respond to treatment. Should that be the case, your veterinarian will likely recommend a skin biopsy to determine the best way to proceed with treatment.

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Recovery of Hygroma in Dogs

Your veterinarian will discuss with you the need for follow-up appointments, which will depend upon your dog’s condition. You will want to provide a padded environment for your dog in order to avoid repeated trauma, complications with the wound or recurrence of the hygroma. 

Infection is not uncommon after aspiration, drainage, and reconstruction. You will want to work closely with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is healing well and that any infections developed are treated promptly.

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Hygroma Average Cost

From 339 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,800

Average Cost

$600

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Hygroma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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American Staffordshire Terrier

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Large Hump On Back

My dog has a large lump on her back, to the point it looks like a camels hump. It started out small and has significantly grown in the last 2 days. We’ve been having a hard time with fleas and we are thinking she may be allergic. Due to the pandemic we are struggling to afford to bring her to the vet. We have been bathing her every other day, I’m including a picture I’ve taken before bathing her again.

Aug. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that your dog is having this trouble, unfortunately, that love does not look like it is related to a flea allergy, and I am concerned if it grew that quickly in two days. It may be an abscess or another type of lump that needs attention. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can take a small sample of the lump and see what it might be. Once they know more about it, they can give you options for treatment. They may also be able to help you with the flea problem that she has. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 24, 2020

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Willy

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shepard

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8 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Large Swelling Over Left Butt

We have a pup who was paralyzed d/t abuse in a prior home and a broken back. He tends to hop on his butt even though we encourage him to drag. This has created a hygroma on his left butt. We got him toddler snowboarding padded shorts he wears everywhere. He sleep on an orthopedic bed and we encourage him not to hop as much as possible, he also gets heat packs to the area daily. Any other advice you can give for prevention and worsening of his fairly bad hygroma?

April 29, 2018

Willy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

It sounds like you are doind everything that you can for Willy, unfortunately. Hygromas just need to be padded to prevent worsening, and his condition makes it very difficult to do that. I hope that he does well.

April 29, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

Hygroma Average Cost

From 339 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,800

Average Cost

$600

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