Symptoms of Pressure Sores
Pressure sores are visibly obvious. The most common site is on the elbows, but they also can occur on the hips, hocks, chest (sternum), side of the legs or anywhere else on the body. Owners of dogs with pressure sores may not notice the condition until the sores actually break open and ulcerate, or until their dogs are chronically licking at the affected site. Owners may notice one or more of the following signs of pressure sores in their dogs:
- Hairless, wrinkled, hyperpigmented (red-to-purple) pad of thickened skin over a bony pressure point
- Fluid-filled area over a bony prominence
- Ulcer, abscess or weeping wound over a bony prominence
- Licking at the affected area (often accompanied by stained hair coat at the site of the sore)
Dogs at Increased Risk
Any dog, of any breed or mixed breed and of either gender, can develop pressure sores. However, they are most common in large and giant-breed dogs - such as the Mastiff, Cane Corso, Irish Wolfhound, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever and other large breeds - because their weight and size are disproportionately concentrated on bony pressure points, especially their elbows and hocks, when they are lying down. Dogs with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop infections at the sites of pressure sores. Dogs that lie down (are recumbent) for prolonged periods of time – especially if they are housed on hard surfaces without soft bedding – have an increased risk of developing pressure sores. Malnourished and emaciated dogs also are predisposed to developing pressure sores, because they lack the normal tissue “padding” around their elbows, hocks and other bony areas.