Elbow Hygroma in Dogs


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How do you treat an elbow hygroma on a dog?

For any dog ​​owner, discovering their pet's growth or swelling can be alarming. This is certainly true if your large breed dog develops elbow swelling that continues to grow and feels firmer over time.

In this case, although a visit to the vet is warranted to evaluate the swelling and determine if it is something cosmetic or something more serious, this new swelling may be a non-cancerous growth called an elbow hygroma.

What is an elbow hygroma?

An elbow hygroma is a fluid-filled swelling that occurs in the elbow joint. It is most often seen in large breed short-haired dogs such as Labradors, German Shepherds, Mastiffs, and Great Danes.

It starts out as a small, soft, mobile lump, but can become quite large and hard over time. Elbow hygromas are not painful and can occur at any bony prominence or pressure point, including the "seat bones'' of the hip and/or the hock joint, but are most commonly seen above the elbow.

Signs of elbow hygromas in dogs

An elbow hygroma is a soft, fluid-filled swelling (usually yellow to red in color) in a bony area or a pressure point on a dog's body. They can grow to about two inches in diameter.

Your dog is unlikely to show signs of illness or discomfort unless the hygroma becomes infected.

Causes of elbow hygromas.

Elbow hygromas occur when large and giant breed dogs frequently rest on hard surfaces, such as wooden floors, tile, or concrete, repeatedly causing minor trauma to the thin skin in a bony prominence.

An inflammatory response can occur in the tissue under the skin above the elbow joint, and the body tries to protect the area by encapsulating it with a fluid to cushion the joint. Over time, with repeated trauma, this fluid-filled capsule will continue to grow.

While a hygroma, regardless of its size, is generally not painful, if it is allowed to grow large enough to ulcerate and form an abscess, your dog may experience pain and discomfort.


When he's caught while he's still young, the only thing you can do is add soft, padded bedding (duvets, foam egg mattresses, etc.) to your dog's favorite resting spots. If a hygroma is small enough, adding a filler to relieve pressure can not only stop the hygroma from progressing but also allow it to recede.

Cold laser therapy can also help reduce inflammation. There are also braces and elbow pads, some custom made, that can help prevent the progression and abscess of hygromas. Ask your vet if he thinks your dog could benefit from a splint and what his recommendation would be.

If your dog's hygroma grows to a size that is not manageable with more conservative treatment methods, draining the fluid and/or surgically removing the hygroma may be the best option.

However, it should be noted that drainage and removal do not guarantee that the hygroma will not reappear. Steps should be taken to increase padded and cushioned sleeping areas to ensure that another hygroma does not appear in an area where one has just been removed.

Since hygromas form at pressure points, if your dog's hygroma is surgically removed, adding pads and pads to his resting areas will also help prevent complications during recoveries, such as infections and incision opening.

If they are small and do not present complications from secondary infections, hygromas can be easily treated. However, as a hygroma grows, the chances of complications during treatment can increase.

Finding a hygroma early, before it becomes complicated and requires more invasive treatments like drainage and surgery, can be the key to an easy recovery. If you notice any growth in your dog, no matter how small, scheduling an appointment with your vet could make a difference simply by changing your pet's routine from invasive surgery with the potential for a long recovery period.

Enjoy The Video Tutorial about Elbow Hygroma in Dogs

Source: Heron Lakes Animal Hospital

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