Bedsores in Dogs

Large dogs that sleep on hard surfaces may develop hard, gray pressure sores called "hygromas."
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As little Glitter ages, her skin is becoming more sensitive. Now that she’s sleeping more, you may notice that she sometimes develops sores on her elbows and her hips, just as you might if you were bedridden. Fortunately, you can treat these sores and prevent them from occurring again.

Bed Sores (Hygromas)

In veterinary language, bed sores are called hygromas, decubital (decubitus) ulcers or pressure sores. If a dog lies for too long in one position or if the dog frequently bangs an elbow or hip on a hard surface when she lies down, she can develop a sore at the point of contact. In addition to developing sores on their elbows and their hips, dogs can also develop sores on their hocks and the sides of their legs.


If your dog’s skin feels warm to the touch, if her hair is matted and falling out or if there is pain, swelling or a foul odor coming from an area, she may have a bed sore under her fur. Large dogs, such as mastiffs, may develop pressure sores in the form of hard, dry, gray skin on their elbows.

Breeds Predisposed to Bed Sores

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Some breeds of dogs are predisposed to spinal problems that lead to paralysis. It should come as no surprise that dogs with long backs, such as dachshunds and corgis, are prone to back problems, since they lack support for their middles! However, mastiffs and Great Danes also may have cervical spine issues that can lead to back problems. Sight hounds, like Afghan hounds and whippets, have naturally jutting hips, which often contact the surfaces upon which they sleep. All of these dogs are prone to bed sores, either because they cannot feel the pain of the developing wound or because their sleeping places don’t offer them enough padding to prevent sores.

Prevention and Treatment

The gray, hairless pressure sores are caused both by pressure and heat, which is why they are more common during the summer. A soft blanket or bed in your dog’s sleeping place or, in hotter months, a soft cooling bed, is one way to protect your dog’s skin and to prevent bed sores. Bedding made of “egg crate” foam rubber topped with a sheepskin cover cradles an infirm or paralyzed dog’s body, relieves pressure on jutting bones and draws moisture away from your dog’s skin. Daily skin inspection, hydrotherapy and massage also keep the dreaded bed sore at bay by increasing your dog’s circulation.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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