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Dog Elbow Calluses Treatment, Causes, and Prevention
Dog elbow calluses are normal and totally harmless in most cases. We only recommend treatment if they cause your dog pain or discomfort.
Why Do Dogs Get Calluses On Their Elbows?
A dog’s elbow calluses typically develop because of a combination of pressure and friction from the ground, especially when they sleep.
Also called ‘pressure sores’ or ‘bed sores’ in more severe cases, these tough spots are formed as their skin hardens and grows over time to try and protect itself from repeated rubbing.
In the same way, we humans experience discomfort after being in the same physical position or wearing shoes for too long.
Can Elbow Calluses In Dogs Cause Health Problems?
Dog elbow calluses rarely present any health concerns and can usually be managed at home. However, they can get infected if left untreated or improperly cared for.
There are a few things to look out for if you want to know if your dog's elbow calluses (or rough skin in other areas) are healthy:
- Color: Dog calluses should match the color of the surrounding skin or be a little bit lighter. Any redness, excessive tearing, or discharge is cause for concern.
- Size: The thickened skin of dog elbow calluses should be limited to a relatively small area around the elbow or other body part that bears weight. If a callus gets much larger than a quarter, it might be time to treat.
- Texture: Keep an eye on the skin texture of the dog elbow callus. It will be bumpy but should be even and only slightly raised.
- Smell/Odor: This one's a little gross. If you notice a foul smell coming from any dog elbow calluses, it could be infected.
- Pain: Healthy calluses should not cause your dog any pain or discomfort. If you notice them wincing, avoiding resting on the area, or chewing on their elbow calluses, there is cause for concern.
Are Some Dog Breeds More Likely to Develop Calluses?
Yes. Certain breeds are more prone to elbow calluses depending on their anatomy and behavior.
- Large breed dogs and giant breed dogs like Bernese Mountain dogs, Great Danes, and even dogs in the medium-large category like Labrador Retrievers.
- Short-haired dogs like the Bull Terrier are predisposed to callus formation without fur to protect their elbows from hard surfaces and prevent elbow calluses.
- If your dog lies on hard or rough surfaces like wood floors or driveways can see elbow calluses develop if left untreated.
- Arthritis can cause calluses in dogs. As an arthritic dog moves to compensate for its joint pain, they put more pressure on new areas of the body, including the elbow pads.
Keep in mind that all dogs can develop calluses and will benefit from some preventative measures, even if all it does is make them more comfortable.
How Do I Prevent Dog Calluses?
Here are some tips for preventing your dog’s body from getting calluses in the first place, along with our best product recommendations.
Fix a Soft Sleeping Area
Dogs spend a large chunk of their time sleeping, so creating a comfortable area for them to rest with some soft bedding is key.
If your dog prefers sleeping on the hard surface of the floor like some of ours, comfortable crate mats work well as low-profile dog beds.
This JoicyCo crate mat will provide protection from the hard floor without being a big, soft bedding blob that certain dogs just aren't into. A blanket can do the trick, too.
For older or arthritic dogs, an orthopedic dog bed can be life-changing when it comes to elbow calluses and sleep quality.
They usually cost more than regular dog beds, but there are budget-friendly options like this one from Furhaven. Easing the strain on your dog’s pressure points will improve their life overall.
A soft sleeping area is still worth your time and money if your pup has already developed calluses; some extra padding can help protect them from further irritation.
Place a cushion or pillow beneath your dog's elbows while lounging during the day, or avoid letting them sleep on hard surfaces, opting for a carpeted area if you can.
Use A Lotion or Balm for Your Dog’s Elbow Calluses
There are several types of balms or lotions specifically formulated for dogs that can ward off developing calluses.
Applying regularly, 1-3 times a day, can reverse dry patches before they thicken too much.
Some of these products are known as elbow butter and can do wonders for a dog’s skin before and after rough skin forms.
Burt's Bees offers a specially-formulated paw and nose lotion that will work on elbows and other callus-prone areas.
We swear by the Pet MD Dog Paw 3-In-1 Balm. This is a best-seller at a number of retailers for good reason.
Both of these products contain safe, non-toxic, healing ingredients like shea butter, olive oil, almond oil, and beeswax, all stuff you'd want on your own skin.
How to Get Rid of Calluses on Your Dog's Elbow (and Other Areas)
If your dog already has calluses and they're causing them pain or discomfort, you'll want to treat them right away.
How to Remedy Small/Minor Calluses on Dogs
A small elbow callus or two can often be remedied with the same methods you'd use to prevent them in the first place.
- Moisturize: Rub a balm or lotion into the elbow callus at least once a day. We recommend any of the products listed above to keep skin hydrated and supple. You can also use a gentle human lotion.
- Exfoliate: Any high-quality pumice stone is suitable for your dog’s elbow callus. Soak or dampen the callused area and allow a few minutes for the skin to soften. Then, very gently, rub with the stone. Follow with moisturizer or balm on the dog’s elbows. This should only be done once a week.
- Eliminate Hard Surfaces: Investing in new soft beds, mats, or some blankets can be sufficient if your dog's elbow callus issue is mild.
How to Treat Large or Infected Calluses on Dogs
Dog elbow calluses or pressure sores that are large, very visible, or appear infected require a vet visit.
A qualified veterinarian can assess the area and the dog’s health to provide guidance on proper treatment.
In some cases, your pup may need to wear booties or wraps in order to protect their paws or elbows from further irritation.
Other times, medications may be prescribed—either topical or oral—to help speed the healing process.
Whatever treatment plan your pet is put on, make sure to follow it closely and keep up with follow-up appointments.
In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the calluses if other treatments have failed.
Can I Put Coconut Oil on My Dog's Elbow Callus?
Yes, you can use coconut oil to treat calluses on your dog's elbows.
It contains a variety of vitamins and natural fatty acids that can moisturize the area, reduce inflammation, and protect the skin.
It can also help alleviate pain and improve healing time for sore elbows.
Just be sure to use unrefined, organic coconut oil to avoid additives and the risk of skin irritation.
It's perfectly safe for your dog to lick this off, but try to keep them distracted for a few minutes right after application.