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D2007-08

Dear Daisy Dog

Victor, my great Dane, has a mass on the side of each front leg, at what I assume is the elbow. When I pointed out the masses to my veterinarian, she didn’t seem concerned. What are these, and can they be removed?

Daisy Responds

It sounds like Victor has hygromas, which are calluses over pressure points, such as the elbows and hocks.

A hygroma sometimes begins as a blister-like pocket of fluid in the skin over a bony prominence that presses against the floor when the dog sleeps.

As the hard floor continues to irritate the skin, the blister thickens to form a non-painful hygroma.

I don’t have hygromas, because I prefer to rest on the couch, human bed or dog bed, in that order.

But hygromas are common in short-haired, large-breed dogs, especially those that sleep on concrete, tile or other hard surfaces.

Hygromas shouldn’t be removed, because the remaining skin won’t heal well, particularly if it is still exposed to hard surfaces.

Instead, you can minimize hygroma development by encouraging Victor to sleep on a thick dog bed that protects his bony joints.

If Victor prefers cool, hard floors, you can protect his elbows with pads. DogLeggs is a popular brand available through the Internet and some pet supply catalogues.

To make your own elbow protectors, buy a long-sleeved T-shirt or child’s overalls and sew a pocket onto each sleeve or pant leg at Victor’s elbow level. Stuff the pocket with a donut-shaped piece of foam rubber so the hygroma rests in the donut’s hole.

If you have additional questions about the skin over Victor’s elbows, be sure to follow up with your veterinarian.

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