When it comes to the well-being of our canine companions, being aware of various health conditions that may affect them is crucial. One such condition, often seen in larger breeds, is hygroma. Characterized by fluid-filled sacs that form over bony prominences, hygromas can be a source of discomfort and concern for both dogs and their owners.

In this article, we delve into the world of hygromas in dogs, guided by insights from veterinarian sources. Understanding what hygromas are, how they develop, and the available treatment options can help pet owners provide the best care for their dogs.

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  1. What is a Hygroma
  2. Symptoms of Hygroma in Dogs
  3. What Are Elbow Hygromas
  4. Where Else in Dogs Can Hygromas Be Found
  5. How to Treat Hygroma in Dogs
  6. FAQs
  7. Final Thoughts

What is a Hygroma

A hygroma is not just a simple bump or swelling; it's a specific type of lesion that develops in dogs, primarily over pressure points like the elbow. These fluid-filled sacs emerge as a response to repeated trauma or pressure, commonly from lying on hard surfaces. The Pharma Journal studies show this is most common in large breeds.

Key Aspects of Canine Hygromas

  • Hygromas are soft, flexible, and fluid-filled. They typically don't cause pain and have a distinctive swelling over the affected area.
  • The fluid inside a hygroma can range in color from clear to yellow or even red, depending on various factors, including the presence of infection.
  • The most frequent site for a hygroma in dogs is the elbow, due to its prominence and susceptibility to pressure when the dog lies down.
  • If left untreated, hygromas can lead to severe inflammation, skin ulcers, infection, and more complex conditions like abscesses and granulomas.

Early Detection and Management

Detecting a hygroma early while it's still small is crucial. Early intervention may involve draining the hygroma and applying a protective bandage. Additionally, ensuring soft bedding and adequate padding over pressure points can help prevent further trauma and the development of hygromas.

For pet owners who want to keep a close eye on their dogs, especially when dealing with conditions like hygromas, the Petcube Cam offers a practical solution. This advanced pet camera allows you to monitor your dog's activities and resting habits, helping you identify any unusual behaviors or signs that may indicate the development or worsening of a hygroma.

Symptoms of Hygroma in Dogs

Recognizing the symptoms of a hygroma in dogs is crucial for early intervention and effective management. Hygromas, though not initially painful, can lead to more serious complications if left unnoticed and untreated. As a pet owner, being aware of these symptoms can help you seek timely veterinary care and prevent the condition from escalating.

Visible Swelling

The most apparent symptom is a noticeable swelling or lump, especially over bony areas like the elbow. Hygromas are typically soft and fluid-filled.

Size Variation

Hygromas can vary in size, from small and barely noticeable to quite large, depending on the duration and extent of pressure or trauma.

Skin Changes

In the early stages, the skin over the hygroma remains normal. However, veterinary sources confirm that over time, and particularly if infection sets in, there can be redness, warmth, and tenderness in the area.

Lack of Pain

Initially, hygromas are usually not painful, which can sometimes lead to delayed detection as the dog may not show signs of discomfort.

Change in Behavior

In cases where the hygroma becomes infected or enlarges significantly, the dog might start to show signs of discomfort or pain, such as reluctance to lie down on the affected side, limping, or licking the area excessively.

What Are Elbow Hygromas

Elbow hygromas are a specific type of hygroma that commonly affects dogs, particularly those of larger breeds. These fluid-filled sacs form over the elbow joints as a result of repeated pressure and trauma, typically from lying on hard surfaces. Understanding elbow hygromas is key to effectively managing and treating this condition.

Characteristics of Elbow Hygromas


As the name suggests, elbow hygromas are located over the dog’s elbow joints. This area is prone to pressure when dogs lie down, making it a common site for hygroma formation.


Elbow hygromas can range from small, fluid-filled swellings to larger, more prominent lumps, depending on the severity and duration of the condition.


These hygromas are usually soft and non-painful to the touch. The overlying skin might initially appear normal but can become irritated or infected if the condition worsens.

Impact on Mobility

While elbow hygromas themselves are not typically painful, their size and location can affect a dog's comfort and mobility, especially when lying down or moving.

The Importance of Early Detection

Detecting elbow hygromas early is crucial in preventing their progression to more severe stages. Regular checks of your dog's elbows, particularly if they spend a lot of time on hard surfaces, can help in early identification and treatment.

To assist in monitoring your dog for signs of elbow hygromas, the Petcube Cam 360 can be an invaluable tool. This advanced camera offers a comprehensive view of your dog’s resting and sleeping habits, enabling you to spot any unusual lying positions or discomfort that might indicate the development of a hygroma. The Petcube Cam also allows you to observe any changes in the size or shape of potential hygromas, facilitating timely veterinary consultation.

Where Else in Dogs Can Hygromas Be Found

While elbow hygromas are the most common in dogs due to the frequency of pressure on this area, these fluid-filled sacs can develop in other locations as well. Understanding where else hygromas can appear is important for comprehensive care and monitoring of your dog's health.

Common Sites for Hygromas in Dogs

  1. Back Leg (Hock Area): Hygromas can form on the back leg, particularly around the hock joint. This is often due to lying on hard surfaces where the hock bears weight.
  2. Shoulder: Although less common, the shoulder area can develop hygromas, especially in dogs that lie on their sides frequently.
  3. Ankle: The ankle, or more accurately, the carpal joint in dogs, can also be a site for hygroma formation, particularly in dogs that rest with their front legs folded under their bodies.
  4. Hip: In some cases, dogs can develop hygromas on their hips, especially if they have a habit of lying on hard, uneven surfaces.

Recognizing Hygromas in These Areas

Hygromas in locations other than the elbow share similar characteristics:

  • They appear as soft, fluid-filled swellings over bony prominences.
  • The overlying skin is initially normal but can change if the hygroma becomes infected or irritated.
  • They are generally not painful to the touch, but their size and location can cause discomfort or mobility issues.

How to Treat Hygroma in Dogs

Treating hygromas in dogs, especially those on the elbows, requires a careful approach that balances promoting healing and preventing further irritation or injury. While some treatments can be administered at home, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian for the best course of action. Here, we'll explore various treatment methods for hygromas in dogs, ranging from home remedies to professional veterinary care.

Treatment Methods for Dog Hygromas

Rest and Soft Bedding

One of the simplest yet most effective treatments is providing a soft, cushioned surface for your dog to lie on. This reduces the pressure on the affected area, preventing the hygroma from worsening.

Hygroma Pads

Specially designed pads or protective sleeves can be used to cushion the hygroma, offering protection and reducing the risk of further trauma.

Home Remedies

For small, uncomplicated hygromas, home care might include applying warm compresses to reduce swelling. However, always consult your vet before trying any home remedies.

Professional Veterinary Treatments

For more severe cases, treatments can include draining the fluid from the hygroma, administering antibiotics in case of infection, or, in extreme cases, surgical intervention.

Cost of Treatment

The cost of treating a hygroma in dogs can vary widely depending on the severity and the chosen treatment method. It's important to discuss the potential costs with your veterinarian.

Treating Hygromas at Home

  • For early-stage hygromas, applying a soft bandage or a hygroma pad can be an effective home treatment. Ensure the bandage is not too tight to avoid restricting circulation.
  • Regularly check the hygroma for signs of infection or changes in size, and consult your vet if you notice any worsening of the condition.

Petcube Emergency Fund: A Safety Net for Unexpected Vet Bills

For pet owners facing the costs of hygroma treatment, the Petcube’s Emergency Fund can be a valuable resource. This fund provides up to $3,000 in emergency funds and offers 24/7 online vet care for immediate assistance. Having this financial safety net can be incredibly reassuring, especially when managing unforeseen veterinary expenses.

As a special offer for our blog readers, you can access this Emergency Fund with a 27% discount. Learn more about the Emergency Fund and take advantage of this exclusive offer here.


What happens if a dog's hygroma bursts?

If a dog's hygroma bursts, it's essential to seek veterinary attention immediately. A burst hygroma can lead to an open wound, which is at risk of infection and further complications.

How to address a dog's elbow hygroma that is bleeding?

If you notice bleeding from a dog's elbow hygroma, it's crucial to gently clean the area and contact your veterinarian. Bleeding may indicate an infection or ulceration, requiring professional medical care.

Will a dog's hygroma go away on its own?

In some cases, a small hygroma may resolve on its own with proper care, such as by providing soft bedding and reducing pressure on the affected area. However, larger or infected hygromas typically require veterinary intervention.

How can a dog's hygroma be drained?

Draining a hygroma should always be done by a veterinarian. This procedure involves aspirating the fluid from the hygroma using sterile techniques to prevent infection and further complications.

What should I do if my dog's hygroma is leaking?

If a dog's hygroma is leaking, it is a sign that the hygroma has ruptured or become infected. Immediate veterinary care is necessary to treat the underlying issue and prevent further health problems.

How to manage a dog's hygroma that is bleeding?

For a dog's hygroma that is bleeding, clean the area with a mild antiseptic and seek veterinary attention. Bleeding may indicate a serious complication that requires medical treatment to prevent infection and aid healing.

Final Thoughts

In concluding our comprehensive look at hygromas in dogs, we've delved into what hygromas are, where they commonly occur, their symptoms, and the various treatment options available. It's clear that while hygromas can be a cause for concern, with attentive care, early detection, and appropriate veterinary intervention, they can be effectively managed.

The key takeaway is the importance of prevention through providing soft bedding, monitoring pressure points, and regular check-ups, especially for larger breeds prone to this condition. By staying informed and proactive about your dog's health care, you can ensure their comfort and well-being.

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