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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

Hygroma in Dogs

By Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD, Professor of Dermatology, Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison ; Michael W. Dryden, DVM, PhD, DACVM, University Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University ; Carol S. Foil, DVM, MS, DACVD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine ; William W. Hawkins, BS, DVM ; Thomas R. Klei, PhD, Boyd Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Advanced Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine and Louisiana Agriculture Experiment Station, Louisiana State University ; John E. Lloyd, BS, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Entomology, University of Wyoming ; Bernard Mignon, DVM, PhD, DEVPC, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases, University of Liège ; Wayne Rosenkrantz, DVM, DACVD ; David Stiller, MS, PhD, Research Entomologist, Animal Disease Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, University of Idaho ; Patricia A. Talcott, MS, DVM, PhD, DABVT, Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Toxicology, Holm Research Center, University of Idaho ; Alice E. Villalobos, DVM, DPNAP, Director;Director, Animal Oncology Consultation Service;Pawspice ; Stephen D. White, DVM, DACVD, Professor and Chief of Service, Dermatology, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital; Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis ; Patricia D. White, DVM, MS, DACVD

A hygroma is a fluid-filled sac that develops over bony prominences and pressure points, especially in large breeds of dogs. Repeated trauma from lying on hard surfaces leads to inflammation. This results in a dense-walled, fluid-filled cavity. A soft, flexible, fluid-filled, painless swelling develops over pressure points, especially the leg joints. If long lasting, severe inflammation may develop, with ulcers, infection, abscesses, masses of inflamed tissue with sand-like deposits, and tissue erosion. The sac contains a clear fluid yellow to red in color. If diagnosed early while they are still small, hygromas can be lanced and then bandaged. Soft bedding and padding over pressure points is important to prevent further trauma. In cases of chronic hygromas, surgical drainage and flushing are critical for relief. Areas with severe skin ulcers may require extensive drainage, surgical removal, or skin grafting.