Hygroma in Dogs

Hygroma in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Pain / Scale Lump / Skin Lump / Swelling

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Rated as moderate conditon

18 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Pain / Scale Lump / Skin Lump / Swelling

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Hygroma in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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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.

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.

Causes of Hygroma in Dogs

A hygroma is caused by repeated trauma. Lying on hard surfaces 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 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).

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

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.

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. 

Should your dog have had lesions surgically reconstructed, he will need to be confined with his limb supported in a sling to allow for the skin graft to take, and then the limb should be bandaged for three weeks. 

Infection is common 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

Hygroma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Willy

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shepard

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8 Months

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

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Serious condition

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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1611 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

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Denial

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Labrador Retriever

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3 Years

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Mild condition

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1 found helpful

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Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Hygroma

I hv 3 years labrador male suffering from hygroma in his one elbow Our doctor tried to remove the fliude with needle but afr some day it will be on the same condition before if there is any antibiotic for hygroma plz tell me execept then surgery.

April 7, 2018

Denial's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Antibiotics are not effective for hygromas since there is no infection (unless there is a secondary infection of a wound), hygromas are generally drained of fluid and dogs are encouraged to lay on more comfortable surfaces like a more spongy bed to prevent recurrence. Apart from surgical removal, you may try to cover the area with something like DogLeggs so that the hygroma doesn’t keep recurring. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.dogleggs.com/blog/how-to-treat-your-dogs-hygroma/

April 7, 2018

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Nimbus

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Great Pyrenees

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7 Months

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Mild condition

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0 found helpful

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Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen Joints

I noticed the other day my dog, Nimbus, has basically a “ball” on each elbow. Researching it I found out about hygroma. The only problem for me for prevention is Nimbus prefers the hard ground to beds etd. He never uses the beds I get him and prefers to sleep on the tile and the hard plastic of his crate. So I guess my question is, is there a way to get him to lay on beds etc? He also tears the beds up- as if they are just a big stuffed toy.

March 13, 2018

Nimbus' Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It can be frustrating when your dog continues to do an activity which you know if causing a bigger issue and whilst the solution is simple for humans (sleep on a soft surface), it isn’t as easy to get a dog to follow suit. I cannot recommend any way for you to force Nimbus on to his bed but you can use other products like DogLeggs to protect the area, you should also visit your Veterinarian to get the hygromas drained as well. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.dogleggs.com

March 13, 2018

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Cowboy

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Dachshund

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9 Years

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hock Hygroma

My 9 yo Dachshund has a hock hygroma. When he sits he tucks that leg under him. This is where the pressure is coming from. He keeps trying to bite it. I should just let him because then it will drain. He has a soft bed. But elsewhere we have wood floors. I can't find a wrap for a hock. Would an anti inflamitory work? Don't know what to do. This is his 2nd one in 3 weeks. Had one before a year ago.

Feb. 22, 2018

Cowboy's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

You shouldn’t let him bite at it as this may result in the hygroma being open for secondary infection and other complications; it should be drained by your Veterinarian if it is small or surgery may be required if large. As for protection, there is a company (linked below) which custom make protective products for these types of issues. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.dogleggs.com/hock-sock/

Feb. 22, 2018

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Arya

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Great Dane

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7 Months

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Mild condition

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1 found helpful

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

Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Swelling

My 7 month old Great Dane just developed this soft lump on her right elbow. I did a little research and seems to be hygroma. What’s the best way to go about treating this. And is this the kind of thing that reacures often?

Feb. 13, 2018

Arya's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Hygromas do have a high recurrence rate if they are not managed properly or if a dog continues to lay down on a hard surface (more comfy bed may be required). Small hygromas may be aspirated and the area bandaged or covered to prevent recurrence, again better bedding etc… can help prevent recurrence. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/integumentary-system/hygroma/overview-of-hygroma

Feb. 13, 2018

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Super Dave

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Pit bull

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7 Years

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

We adopted Super Dave in July 2019. At the end of February he was hit by a car and his person who was homeless began to beat him because he was incontinent and then proceeded to take Super Daves pain medication instead of giving it to him. He was taken away from his person and kept at the local county shelter where they did everything they could for him. they raised money to get him a cart and he was taken care of there. Then he went into a foster home in June and we adopted him in mid July. He had a pretty bad hygroma and ulceration on his left front leg. He is now able to use his other three legs. we have gotten him doggleggs and keep treating the ulceration with manuka honey and a foamee pad on his elbow. When we took him to the vet they put him on Clindimyacin and Carprofen. the ulceration is getting better but his elbow is still very swollen. it does not seem to be filled with fluid. I need to know what I can do to take down the swelling in his elbow. It does not seem to be painful for him. I do physical therapy with him everyday on that leg, range of motion. we were doing hydrotherapy while the weather was warm enough since it is an outside pool and now its been too cold to do that. he is 7 years old and the youngest of our 9 rescued dogs. Thanks for any input!

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Flint

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Labrador Retriever

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8 Years

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

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Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Hygroma
Calcification On X-Ray
Temporary Limping

Flint was diagnosed with a hygroma on his olecranon process about 5 years ago. We were told it was nothing to worry about. He does lay down right on it very often. He has a soft bed, but often likes to lay on the hard floor because it's cooler. We had a biopsy done, but no cells were collected. It was clear fluid mixed with some milky substance. Recently, we noticed it had gotten bigger. We had an x-ray done (probably about a year after the aspiration biopsy), and the x-ray shows calcification that is starting to creep up the bone to the shoulder. We are now being told that a CT scan with a biopsy is needed so they can get a larger chunk. It now seems that cancer is a likely possibility. Can a hygroma turn into cancer? With the calcification, is there a chance that this is still just a hygroma?

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Paxton

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Rhodesian Ridgeback

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6 Years

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

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

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen Elbow, Pain, Discharge

I'm a professional dog service provider who boarded a Rhodesian Ridgeback over Xmas break. Exactly one week after the dog arrived on Xmas eve (of course), I noticed swelling in his entire left front leg, especially around the elbow. After careful examination, there was no wound or entry point for infection. He was running and playing pretty hard, so I relayed to the client it was in my opinion, the injury was likely caused by a sports-related injury, i.e; possibly a sprain or torn ACL (best/worse case). Since the owner was in London at the time and most vets were closed except the very expensive after-hours Emergency vet hospital, the client and I mutually agreed it was probably safe to wait until she picked him up the day after Christmas when and bring him to a vet local to her as she did not live in the area. I tried Carprofen (doggy Advil) which showed noticeable improvement of swelling and pain. Meanwhile, I kept a close eye and agreed to update her in case the condition worsened or showed other signs of concern. He continued to eat, drink and play normally so I wasn't overly concerned. However, I urged the client to make an appt that day for her dog to be seen as soon as she got back. It wasn't until the morning the dog was scheduled to be picked up, the wound had doubled in size with a single puncture wound so I could only assume the hygroma either ulcerated or he started gnawing at it and appeared to be in a lot of pain again, yelping only when I touched the site. Ulceration seemed more likely due to the single hole which started to weep a blood-tinged clear fluid by the time he was checking out. I put a cone on him and applied a Betadine solution followed by sterile gauze secured by stretchy polo wrap. The owner was able to get him into the vet that same day and it was reported that the swelling was likely started out as a hygroma that developed into a staph infection. From everything I'm reading, it sounds like hygromas are caused by lying on hard surfaces except we only have dogs crated at night furnished with a soft rug and a fleece blanket over that. He was free to play all day or relax inside on big plush dog bed which he did most of the time. When I first noticed the swelling, we ditched the crate and had him sleep loose outside of the crate exclusively on the thick dog bed for the remainder of his stay. My question is, how in the heck could something like this escalate so quickly? Are there any other factors that could've caused the infection such as a comedone or furuncle? This doesn't make any sense to me especially because I've never seen him lay on a hard surface. The owner commended me at first for reporting and updating about his condition unknown at the time. Is there a chance this hygroma could have been pre-existing whether known or unknown to the client? From what I'm reading it takes weeks to form a callous. I'm not clear on what factors would contribute to the infection for it to escalate so quickly. Had I noticed the slightest scratch along with the swelling, I would've definitely said he needs emergency vet right away as I'm aware staph naturally lives on the dog's skin. But this wasn't the case.

Hygroma Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$600

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