Hygroma in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

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

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

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

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.

Youtube Play

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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).

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Worried about the cost of Hygroma treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Hygroma Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$600

arrow-up-icon

Top

Hygroma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

dog-name-icon

Arya

dog-breed-icon

Great Dane

dog-age-icon

7 Months

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

1 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

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Mel

dog-breed-icon

Border Collie

dog-age-icon

1 Year

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

Has Symptoms

None

My 1 year old Border Collie has developed Hygromas on both elbows after a period of 8 weeks reduced activity (a lot of laying around) following Achilles tendon surgery. She is tiny and very active and, as border collie do, slams herself into the lying down position with enthusiasm about 100 times a day. My get seemed very unconcerned, gave us 6 days of anti inflammatories, which unfortunately did nothing. Not sure what to do next, really really don't want to put her through surgery again! Seems like she has no real callouses but also no open wounds, will they go away now she is rehabilitating back into her usual exercise (2-4hours/day or more)? Will they prevent her living a happy normal border collie life?

Feb. 1, 2018

Mel's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

There are products produced which can act as a cushion to help with hygromas (see link below) and draining them may also help too; but large or old hygromas may require surgical removal, it is really a case by case basis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.dogleggs.com www.msdvetmanual.com/integumentary-system/hygroma/overview-of-hygroma

Feb. 1, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

Hygroma Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$600

Need pet insurance?
Need pet insurance?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.