Elbow Hygromas in Dogs: A Detailed Guide Identifying and Managing Elbow Hygromas In Dogs

Elbow Hygromas in Dogs: A Detailed Guide https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2020/04/15/12/29/hovawart-5046466_1280.jpg

In many breeds of dogs, especially those with thick and heavy bones, elbow hygromas are a prevalent problem. We discuss this condition further in this article.

Elbow hygromas in dogs are a common condition that affects many breeds, especially large and heavy-boned dogs. Hygromas, fluid-filled swellings over bony prominences, form due to repeated trauma and pressure. Dogs that lie on hard surfaces for extended periods, including concrete or tile floors, are more prone to developing elbow hygromas. If left untreated, these pressure sores can become unattractive and uncomfortable for the dog, as well as cause secondary infections and more serious consequences.

In this article, we'll talk about the causes, signs, diagnosis, and available treatments for elbow hygromas in dogs, as well as some precautions you can take to help keep your pet safe from this ailment.


The known causes of hygroma in dog elbow include:

  • Recurrent trauma or pressure: Fluid can build up in the tissues and result in a hygroma when pressure and stress are applied repeatedly to the elbow's bony prominence.

  • Breed predisposition: Because of their size and weight, large and heavy-boned breeds like Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Rottweilers are more likely to develop elbow hygromas.

  • Age: Elderly dogs are more vulnerable to developing elbow hygromas due to diminished movement and more time spent lying down.

  • Hard surfaces: Dogs who frequently lie on hard surfaces, including concrete or tile floors, are more likely to develop elbow hygromas.

  • Obesity: Overweight dogs experience higher strain on their joints, which can result in hygroma formation in the dog's elbow.

  • Genetics: In some cases, elbow hygromas may have a genetic component, which means some breeds may be more predisposed to this condition.


The signs of hygroma in dogs include:

  • Swollen elbow on the dog: Dog elbow hygroma usually presents as a fluid-filled swelling on one or both elbows. Initially, the swelling might be malleable and soft, but over time, it might harden and lose some of its fluidity.

  • Hygroma discomfort can be severe, especially if it ruptures or gets infected. Dogs may display pain symptoms or resist lying down on the elbow that is injured.

  • Warmth and redness: The skin around the hygroma may be warm to the touch and seem reddish.

  • Limping: If the swelling is significant or painful, dogs with elbow hygromas may limp or prefer the afflicted limb.

  • Inability to bend the elbow: Un extreme cases, the hygroma can develop so big and solid that it inhibits the mobility of the elbow joint, making complete extension or bending of the afflicted limb difficult or impossible.

Hygroma Treatment

The treatment and management options for hygroma in dog elbow depend on the gravity of the hygroma and the particular cause. Some common treatment methods include:

  • Conservative management: Conservative care may be adequate in moderate situations to eliminate the hygroma. This can involve changing the dog's sleeping surface, using padded bedding or elbow pads, and restricting the dog's activity to prevent further damage to the affected area.

  • Drainage: Your veterinarian could advise using a needle and syringe to remove the fluid if the hygroma is big or uncomfortable. This may offer instant comfort and help the swelling shrink.

  • Surgery: In some circumstances, surgery may be required to remove and stop the hygroma from returning. Surgery may entail removing the damaged tissue or covering the defect with a skin flap.

  • Antibiotics: If the hygroma becomes infected, your veterinarian may recommend antibiotics to treat the underlying infection.

  • Steroids: In some instances, your veterinarian may prescribe steroids to minimize inflammation and swelling associated with the hygroma. Dexamethasone or Prednisolone may be prescribed to help with inflammation. 

Preventive Tips

Prevention tips to reduce the risk of elbow hygromas in dogs include:

  • Giving your dog nice and cushioned bedding: Giving your dog a soft and cushioned area to lie on will help ease the strain on the elbows and halt the onset of hygromas.

  • Reducing time on hard surfaces: Limiting your dog's time on hard surfaces such as concrete or tile floors can help lower the chance of getting hygromas. A soft mat or bed might relieve some pressure if your dog spends time on hard surfaces.

  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Overweight dogs are more prone to developing hygromas due to the increased pressure on their joints. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet will help reduce the risk of developing hygromas.

  • Providing regular exercise: Exercising regularly can help keep joints mobile and lower the chance of getting hygromas. However, avoiding high-impact activities that may put excessive pressure on the joints is vital.

  • Observing your dog's sleeping patterns: Observing your dog's sleeping habits can aid in detecting early indicators of hygromas. If you observe that your dog regularly lies on one elbow, adding more padding or moving the dog may be able to stop the growth of hygromas.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can help reduce the risk of elbow hygromas in your furry friend and promote their general health and well-being.

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