Help for Hip Pressure Sores: VITAL VET REVIEW

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Last week, Vital Vet’s Product Wizard received this inquiry “My dog has DM (degenerative myelopathy) and now has a sore on his hip bone from lying on it too much.  Is there a product that can protect that area?”.  Here’s what the Product Wizard had to say.

A pressure sore (also known as a decubitus ulcer) can happen when dogs spend too much time lying on a hard surface.  These sores are typically seen over bony areas like elbows, ankles, and hips.  They are challenging to treat since dogs continue the need to lie down and do so on these delicate parts.  Sores that appear over the hips are more common in dogs that:
  • have trouble walking like those that are paralyzed or have neurologic or orthopedic problems.
  • are older since they spend more time lying down and have less muscle to protect their bodies.
  • are large and giant breeds like Mastiffs since they put a lot of weight over their bony areas.
  • have thin skin or little fat or hair for protection, like Great Danes or Greyhounds.

Signs of a pressure sore include loss of hair/exposed skin, excessive licking, and skin calluses or discoloration that, if left untreated, can develop into open wounds. It is important to recognize the signs early because it is easier to treat pressure areas when they first appear than it is to manage them once they become open wounds.

Orthopedic dog beds and thick, yoga mats (this yoga mat is also extra wide) can be used on hard floors where your dog lies down.  But if your dog likes to follow you from room to room, it’s hard to cover so much floor space with padded mats.  Then, it might be easier to use a product that your dog can wear that pads and protects the hip bones without having to worry about where your dog is lying.



Protecting a dog’s hip area is not easy and there aren’t products that were originally designed for the job.  But with a little ingenuity, some products can be manipulated to make them work for this exact purpose. 

Here are a few solutions:

This is the Hip-Eez, which was originally designed to help support and comfort dogs with hip pain.  The company has introduced a donut that can be applied to this device to help reduce pressure directly over the sore.  This device is most useful for dogs that are “down”; that are not really able to move on their own and spend most of their time lying down.

“Donuts”(yum… but please do NOT use the kind of donut that you eat 🙂 are a useful padding design to help relieve pressure over the sore.  The idea is that the donut shape is in contact with the body but the donut hole, where the sore is located, has no direct contact with the ground when the dog is lying down.
If using the 
Hip-Eez, you may need the help of a veterinary professional to order the correct size and to place the donut properly so that it sits over the hip with the donut hole directly over the sore.
Another solution is a diaper cover.
You can see how, in most cases, the diaper cover also covers the hip bone.  But check to see where your dog’s sore is located and make sure that the diaper cover is long enough to completely cover the hip joint and sore area.  Diaper covers alone are not padded so you will need to apply some padding to the inside of the diaper cover to make sure your dog is cushioned and protected.

A Few Notes About Padding

There are all kinds of padding materials available for purchase and most are inexpensive and easy to apply.  Self-adhesive foam padding is recommended since it has a sticky side.  The backing is peeled away and the padding can be stuck inside the diaper (do NOT stick padding on the dog).  Advantages to self-adhesive padding include the following:
  • Padding can be cut to any size (and so can the donut hole shape and size) so it can protect small-to-large sore areas.
  • Since it is self-adhesive, padding sticks to itself as well.  This is helpful since several layers of padding can be stuck one onto the other to form a very thick layer of protection.
  • Different types of self-adhesive padding can be combined.  For example, apply a thick memory foam piece inside the diaper cover and then apply a piece of softer fleece padding over the memory foam.
  • Padding can be easily changed if it gets wet or dirty.

If you can sew, then we recommend that you sew thick sheepskin padding inside the diaper cover. 

Sheepskin is a natural fiber that provides great protection for bony areas like the hip.  If needed, a donut-shaped pressure relief area can be carved out of the sheepskin using a hair clipper.

Other Hip Protection Solutions

If you find that the diaper cover does not cover the hip sore area completely, then consider this hip brace.  Even though it is designed as a hip brace, you can apply it a little looser to remove the “bracing” effect.
This type of hip brace does a good job of covering more of the hip area. It also stays in place better since it comes with a harness that holds the hip pads in place.  Since this brace is not padded, you will need to add self-adhesive padding or sew-in sheepskin inside the brace as was mentioned above for the diaper cover.  
Some dogs are already wearing a walking or mobility harness, which may make adding the 
Hip-Eez or other 
hip brace too bulky.  For those dogs, a surgery protection suit like this one might be a better option since it can be worn under the dog’s walking harness.  
Surgery protection suits are just that; they protect a recent surgery site from dirt and from the dog licking or chewing at the incision.  But these suits can also be modified to help protect bony hips.  There are many styles of surgery suits so these are some things to consider:
  • Choose one that fits – measure your dog carefully.
  • Choose a “male” or “female” version – most suits have this option so that the suit does not have to be removed for the dog to be able to go to the bathroom.
  • Make sure the legging portion is long enough to cover the hip bone and sore; some surgery suits come with long leggings as an option.
  • Choose a cotton or mostly cotton blend suit – you will need to apply padding since these suits are not padded.  Padding sticks better to cotton than to lycra.
You don’t have to be “MacGyver” to come up with easy and effective solutions to help your pet.  A little ingenuity and time and you can create the perfect solution for your most perfect furry friend!

If you want recommendations for a product or device for a pet with special needs, contact Vital Vet’s Product Wizard.  

And please join the conversation on our Facebook Group, Animal Rehab, Physio, and Fitness PRODUCTS & RESOURCES.

Always contact your veterinary professional with any pet healthcare issues.

A Vital Vet Publication  

Let’s work together and give them the best life possible!

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