What Are Elbow Hygromas And How Do I Treat Them?

What Are Elbow Hygromas And How Do I Treat Them?

If your dog usually sleeps on the floor or seems to be having more trouble than usual laying on the floor, they may have a hygroma. Fear not, this is a fairly common occurrence for dogs, and if corrected early, will not cause you any stress. This article will give you all the knowledge you need to know about hygromas, and what to do about them.

A hygroma is a fluid-filled swelling that typically occurs over a pressure point or over a bony prominence on a dog’s body, such as their outer elbow. These swellings are typically not painful for your dog and usually begin small. However they can become hardened and enlarged over time. If left untreated it is possible for these swollen areas to become infected.

There are areas on a dog’s body, where the bone is close to the surface, and may protrude more than other areas. Repeated trauma to these bony areas, such as being made to lay on a hard surface like a cement or hardwood floor, cause cause the area to swell and fill with fluid. For this reason, dogs who are recovering from surgery are often prone to developing hygromas.

Many veterinarians advise dog owners to use use protective elbow pads both before a hygroma develops and after surgery so that the parts of the dog’s body that are prone to developing hygromas are not exposed to further abuse while they attempt to heal. ZenPet makes a neoprene Orthowrap that is designed to promote better circulation to joints while also offering protective padding for the dog while it lays on the floor. In addition, the wrap increases the amount of oxygen the dog’s muscles are getting and provides for better circulation as well.

If your dog has developed a hygroma, you will notice soft swellings right under the dogs skin. These places fill with fluid, which produces the outward symptoms you notice. Luckily, most of the time hygromas are not painful and are really more of an inconvenience for your dog. However over time, older hygromas may become severely inflamed along with additional symptoms that are more severe such as:

  • Abscesses
  • Fistulas
  • Granulomas
  • Infection
  • Tissue Erosion
  • Ulceration

If your dog’s hygroma is infected, it will be painful and warm to the touch, and you will need to seek veterinary assistance.

Small hygromas are fairly simple to take care of. Using a bandage, it is advised to wrap the area so that you provide padding against the bony area. Use bandages in combination with a soft dog bed to shield the dog from the hard floor, and to prevent hygromas from developing further.

Kruuse makes a vet approved, and clinically proven bandage made from natural rubber latex that is both strong, and flexible. The Fun-Flex Bandages allow wounds to breathe, and do not stick to fur. They can be easily rolled on to apply, and they adhere to themselves so they stay put where you want them.

It may also help to employ the use of a topical hot spot cream if the area is becoming irritated, as it will soothe your dog and hopefully shift their attention away from the area.

Doggles makes an all natural, steroid-free hot spot cream that helps to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling when applied to affected areas of your dog’s skin. It is non-toxic, and can be applied over and over to your dog without damaging their coat. 

If the hygroma is larger, further treatment may be needed, however this is generally a very rare condition and many veterinarians do not advise removing the hygroma, as they often form near joints, making it difficult to close the wound and the location of the hygroma could cause additional complications such as possible infection to the site. If your vet decides surgery is necessary it is important to pay close attention to the wound in the days following the operation.

Healer’s Cut and Wound Spray is great for post surgery wound care because it enables new tissue growth, and promotes quick healing. Since Healer’s is all natural and does not contain alcohol of any kind, the wound spray is non irritating and will not sting your dog when you treat their wounds with it.

You may also want to wrap the dog’s wound area to prevent the animal from further irritating it after surgery. H4Legs uses a custom made lightweight nylon material for their dog leg wraps. The material is capable of stretching to accommodate casts and bandages while still allowing for a standard range of movement. Using a wrap or other kind of garment to cover your dog’s legs will stop them from biting, scratching or pulling at wounds and stitches.

Truly, elbow hygromas look much scarier than they really are. Of course you always want to make sure your dog is as comfortable as they can be, but there is no real cause for alarm when you see a hygroma. Simply adjust your dog’s bedding, and make sure they have a comfortable place to sleep and most instances of hygroma can be easily corrected and prevented.

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