- Calluses are thick, rough patches on a dog’s skin — You may notice calluses on your dog’s elbows, especially if they love to lay on concrete patios or tile floors.
- They normally won’t hurt your pup — But they could crack or bleed. In these cases, they could hurt or lead to an infection.
- You can soothe minor elbow calluses at home — For larger or painful elbow calluses, you should talk to your dog’s vet about treatment options.
Elbow calluses may be unsightly, but they normally don’t cause your dog any pain. However, if they grow to be large, they may impact your pup’s mobility. Dry calluses can be itchy, and if they crack or swell, they may be painful.
What’s an elbow callus and how does it develop
A dog elbow callus may occur when a dog’s bony elbow rubs against a hard surface so often that thicker tissue develops to protect the bone from damage. There are some specific causes, which we go over below, that can make your dog more likely to develop a callus.
When Fido needs to visit the vet
Keep an eye on your dog’s elbow calluses. If they change color or appearance, you’ll need your vet to take a look. This is especially true for calluses that start to crack or bleed because they can lead to an infection. Cracks allow bacteria to enter the skin and can lead to bacterial infections, such as pyoderma.
Dr. Erica Irish
It is very rare that an elbow callus will need to be surgically removed. This is because the elbow is a frequently flexed joint, which puts lots of tension on any potential surgical site.
Compared to other pressure points of a dog’s body, such as the knees or hips, dog elbows are more prone to calluses and related infections. Your dog will need to see a vet to prevent or treat infected calluses.
Treating your dog's elbow calluses at home
You may be able to improve minor doggie elbow calluses with some simple at-home treatments. Oftentimes, supplying plenty of soft surfaces — indoors and out — and moisturizing balms can help get rid of small-but-tough calluses.
Apply a dog balm — Try a natural balm, such as Natural Dog Company’s Paw Soother, which works for both paws and elbows to prevent dry skin and irritation. Ingredients like cocoa butter, mango butter, coconut oil, and jojoba oil help moisturize, soothe, and protect doggie skin.
👉 Apply the balm one to three times daily to see improvement.
Use vitamin E — You can also soothe your dog’s elbow calluses using household items such as vitamin E oil or petroleum jelly, often known by the brand name Vaseline. Massage the product into and around the callus gently to keep it moisturized and protected.
What causes canine elbow calluses?
Here are some of the most common causes for your dog’s scaly elbows:
Breed. For dogs, elbow calluses usually arise when a pup lies on hard surfaces often. The calluses help protect the pointy bones. This is especially true if you own a larger breed dog, such as a mastiff, Great Dane, Rottweiler, or Labrador retriever. Short-haired pups with less fur protecting the joints may also experience elbow calluses.
Age and weight. These are extra factors that can determine the amount of pressure on the joints when a pet lies on a hard surface.
Arthritis. Dog calluses can pop up more frequently for dogs with arthritis, especially if they need to stop and rest often. Collapsing down onto a hard floor or patio surface and lying down for longer periods of time can cause these calluses to form and grow.
Ingrown hair. Another cause of an elbow callus is ingrown hair . The hair becomes trapped within the skin, and the skin may begin to grow hard and scaly over the hair. In this instance, the trapped hair can lead to irritation and infection. Ingrown hairs can also cause callus pyoderma or pus-filled skin. This can be painful, so have your vet look at calluses to determine how serious they are.
Preventing calluses on your doggie’s pointy elbows
If you notice that your dog loves lying on hard surfaces in and around your home, you can put in place a few preventative measures to keep calluses from forming. No matter the season, you can provide a soft but cool or warm surface for your pup, so they aren’t resting their pointed joints on hard surfaces like wooden floors or tile, or for the outdoors, wooden decks or concrete.
Invest in soft bedding — Soft surfaces help prevent calluses from forming. If you’ve avoided dog beds in the past because you have a super-chewer, consider a chew-proof bed. For outdoor spaces, find a dog bed that is easy to wash. This way, your dog can still bask in the sunshine without the added pressure on their elbows from a sidewalk or hard patio surface.
👉 Make sure your pup has access to soft dog bedding that is big enough for them, especially in rooms with hard floors.
Consider an elevated dog bed — Elevated or raised dog beds are designed to protect your dog’s joints. They provide comfort and support, plus they’re easy to clean and hard to chew up. Elevated dog beds are also a great option for pups that love cool tile floors because they don’t trap heat beneath the dog (they’re also Dr. Irish’s favorite).
Try a cooling mat in the summertime — Your dog probably seeks out cold tile floors or shaded patio and sidewalks to lie on when the temperatures are high. But the prolonged contact between their joints and hard surfaces can lead to calluses. Cooling mats are an easy-to-clean bed alternative that offers some cushion and support while also keeping your dog’s body at a comfortable temperature.
Get an elbow brace for your dog — An elbow brace can help protect elbow calluses and hygromas for dogs. The brace wraps comfortably around your dog’s body and sits snugly over the callus or hygroma with a non-irritating fabric. With this product, your dog can still move and play freely while allowing the spot to heal.
What’s the difference between an elbow callus and hygroma?
Elbow calluses often grow in the same area as elbow hygromas, which are pockets of fluid or pus. Calluses grow on the skin, while hygromas develop swelling under the skin .
To treat calluses, a vet may refer your pup to a surgical specialist for the most severe cases, or you can keep the area clean and moisturized to reduce minor calluses. To treat hygroma, there are several options. A vet may use laser therapy or a fine needle biopsy to aspirate the fluid of small hygromas. For more serious hygromas, a veterinarian may use surgical drainage or even skin grafts.
Both calluses and hygromas can range in severity, so if you notice dry patches of skin or bumps around your dog’s elbows, take them to the vet.
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Frequently asked questions
How do I get rid of calluses on my dog’s elbow?
Preventing their elbow from rubbing against hard surfaces by providing a well-padded area to lay, and applying a dog balm like Natural Dog Company’s Paw Soother can help treat and prevent your dog’s elbow calluses.
Is it normal for dogs to have calluses on elbows?
Elbow calluses can be fairly common with many dogs, especially older dogs and large breeds, or those that are overweight or obese and have more weight pressing their elbow down on hard surfaces. Typically, they are harmless, but dog owners should watch for signs of cracking or infection.
How do you treat an elbow hygroma on a dog?
For a simple elbow hygroma, treatment might involve simply changing your dog’s bedding and allowing it to heal on its own. For other situations or if it becomes infected, it may be necessary for your vet to drain the infection and flush it out so that it will heal.
What does an elbow callus look like on a dog?
An elbow callus looks like a thick, crusty spot on a dog’s elbow. It’ll be hard to the touch and it helps protect your dog’s elbow joint from damage.
Do dogs’ elbow calluses disappear?
A callus develops as a result of repeated trauma or pressure. Once that has been resolved, a dog’s elbow callus may resolve on its own, but without intervention, it won’t.
Why are my dog’s elbows crusty?
More than likely, your dog’s elbows are crusty due to the surface they are laying on. When dogs lay on hard surfaces this can often lead to repeated scraping of their elbow against the hard ground. The result is a crusty elbow.