How to Treat and Prevent Your Dog’s Elbow Callus?

You look after your dog. You clean her ears. You trim her nails. You’ve been brushing her coat. Then you notice a calluses development in her elbows. What are these? How do these things develop?

This article will discuss what calluses are, how your dog develops one, how you can treat it, and how to prevent it from coming back.

What is a callus?

A callus is a rough, thick patch of skin that forms on a bony point on your dog’s body. It is also known as a pressure sore and a dog hock.

Your dog has an ulna bone, the bony part that sticks out like her elbow, hocks (the back legs), hips, and leg sides in certain parts of her body. Your dog could do these three activities that hurt the ulna bone:

  1. Your dog loves to flop down on hard surfaces. So, she constantly hits her ulna bone.
  2. Your dog loves to slide or scrape her elbows (and other parts) against hard surfaces.
  3. Your dog has a very sedentary lifestyle, lying all day, and her favorite spot is the cold hard floor, which puts excessive pressure on her elbows and other parts of the body.

If the ulna bone is always put under these activities then it will try to protect itself by forming a callus. This spot is dry, firm, hairless, and scaly skin. It can be gray, dark brown, or black.

Large breeds with short coats are more likely to develop a callus like Labradors or Mastiffs than one with heavy coats. Padding and protection against hard surfaces have been added by dogs with thick coats. Smaller breeds have less body mass than for their joints to be under pressure Deep-chested breeds such as German Shepherd Dogs, Akitas, and Boxers may develop a sternum (breastbone) callus.

A callus can get crack and bleed more than being unsightly, or it can become infected and ulcerated. For your dog too, a callus makes it uncomfortable as it may be itchy or painful. If your dog chews or bites her callus, it may cause a crack or tear in which bacteria can enter and infect the skin. An infected callus means a trip to the vet for an urgent situation.

Alongside it, the callus can produce hygroma. A hygroma is a pocket of fluid that may be infected again. A hydrogoma that is not contaminated is usually small. If your dog avoids hard surfaces for a while, it can heal naturally. Your vet could also drain the fluid. An infected hydrogoma becomes quite big and very painful to your dog. Extreme cases require surgery.

You will know that your dog is developing a callus with these symptoms:

  • Her fur becomes thin around the ulna bones.
  • The skin becomes dry and discolored.
  • She has trouble bending her elbows.
  • She licks her elbows a lot because the callus is irritating her.

If you notice these early symptoms of a callus, treat her immediately.

How do you treat your dog’s callus?

Some calluses are not a cause for alarm and do not need a trip to the vet. But other calluses should be presented to the vet for immediate medical action.

If you manage to spot your dog’s callus early, try these treatments:

1. Provide your dog with a good bed that takes into account her size, breed, and sleeping preference.

When she decides to hang out, rent a sofa bed for her. When she enjoys curling up and needs protection, it would be great to have a canopy bed or a cuddler dog bed as it protects her body from all angles. Place soft bedding inside it if your dog sleeps in her kennel. If she’s old, an orthopedic bed may be good for her callus as well as for her arthritis.

For summer months, get her a cooling mat. You can put this mat on the floor or atop her bed. 

Train and encourage her to go to her bed even for naps or even if she’s just lounging around. If you can afford it, buy a couple of beds so she will have a lot of choices and she will have less time to sleep on the floor. If she likes to lie next to you, when you settle down, bring her bed with you. One way she can be encouraged to use the bed is to put her favorite toys there. That’s going to signal she owns it.

Also, this might be against your house’s rules, but let your dog settle on the couch. It will be better to keep cleaning the fur off the furniture than for your dog to develop a callus on the cold hard floor.

2. If it is not easy to persuade your dog to sleep on her bed, put some pillows or blankets on the floor on her favorite spots. This isn’t going to be as good as a bed, but it will at least reduce the soil’s hardness and make it a bit softer.

3. Always clean any callus that forms on your dog’s body. Making sure that it is clean could prevent infection.

You don’t have to use dog soap or shampoo all the time. You can use wet wipes that are safe for pets.

Pogi’s Grooming Wipes — Dogs & Cats deodorizing wipes are hypoallergenic, and they are safe for your dog. They contain ingredients such as aloe vera that can moisturize the callus of your dog. And because they’re made of bamboo fiber, they’re earth-friendly.

4. Once rubbing the callused elbow, contact the doctor. The cover can restrict the area’s blood flow. A callus also requires soothing air to heal. The wrapping can infect or damage the callus. Some dogs developed swollen legs due to the wrapping of the callus in a bandage.

5. If you get the go-signal from your vet to wrap the callus, try to put a protective sleeve around the callused elbow of your dog. Usually, these products are not as restrictive as bandages. Try the following:

Nature Pet Deck Elbow Protector/Dog Elbow Sleeve/Hygroma Elbow Pads for Dogs – this product is not as restrictive or tight as normal bandages. It can protect the callused elbow from scraping the ground. As it has padding, it also serves as a shield for pressure. If your dog has hygromas, you can even use it. It has an inside pocket where for additional cushioning, you can place heating or cooling gel sheet. The Velcro closure device allows you to adjust the protector’s tightness and looseness.

Suitical Recovery Sleeve – this product is made of breathable, stretchy fabric. So, this still allows air to reach the callus. But it covers the entire leg of your dog so she won’t be able to lick the spray or topical medicine you’ve applied to her callus. The sleeve’s style ensures it won’t slip off easily.

You could transform an old sock into a home-made sleeve for some new-school lining and shielding. Cut a hole at the end of the toe. Let the heel part cover the callus. Use some strong string or old pantyhose and make it into a sling that won’t drop the sock down. If you have some suspenders, you can use it to hold the sock up and make sure it’s not going to slip down.

6. The easiest way to heal a callus is to reduce the pressure on the joints. But by applying elbow balm, cream, or wax, you can prevent the callus from getting worse. The callused surface will be moisturized. Applying this type of medication can make the rough skin of the callus smoother, softer, and less restrictive. This, in turn, could prevent cracking, tearing and bleeding of the callus. Make sure that pets are safe from the product you are going to use. Try the following products:

The Blissful Dog Elbow Butter – this product contains all-natural ingredients, so even if your dog licks it, it is healthy. This comes in an easy-to-apply tube. It’s as easy as putting on your lipstick. On the spot, simply twist and dab. You should rub the material after you have applied it so that it penetrates deeper into the layers of the callus. Apply twice a day for the best results. If the callus is tender, you should apply once a day.

Petroleum Jelly like Vaseline – you likely have this in your house because it’s such a low-cost, multi-purpose lubricant. Add a generous amount twice a day to the callus of your puppy. Massage so that it hits all callus regions. Remember that the grease of the petroleum jelly may be transferred to your flooring and furniture from the callus of your dog. Try not to let the dog lick it, too. It is not toxic to dogs. Yet the pet may be adversely affected because it is not food.

7. For a more organic approach, try putting coconut oil on the callus. Massage the oil for 2-3 minutes. If you have your vet’s approval, put a sleeve or padding over the area so that your dog will not lick it.

These are the conditions where you need to visit your vet:

1) Check the callus every day. See if the moisturizer you’ve applied is effective. Make sure that the callus is not bleeding or oozing. If it does, bring your dog to the vet.

2) Do not give medicine to your dog, especially medicines for human pain relief, without first consulting the vet. These can be easily obtained from a pharmacy, but the dosage may be wrong. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

3) Consult your vet if, after all that you’ve done, the callus won’t go away. If necessary, your vet can perform surgery and tell you which antibiotics, spray, or medicine you can give your dog to help it heal more quickly.

What do you do to prevent a callus from developing again?

The best prevention is to keep your dog away from hard surfaces. Training her to use her bedding is paramount. During the summer months, invest in a cooling pad or an elevated bed.

Don’t let your dog get overweight. If her weight is high, it will have a greater impact on a hard surface. A heavy body will also mean extra pressure on the elbows of your dog. It’s also tougher for overweight dogs to cool down. So if your dog is overweight, she’ll always be searching for better spaces on the floor

Make your dog lead a more active lifestyle. Take her out for more walks instead of allowing her to nap or lay down all day.


A callus is the reaction of your dog’s body to being repeatedly hit. It might lead to more serious issues for your pet and your finances if left untreated. Train your dog to lie down on soft places instead of the hard floor. If you see a callus begin developed in one position, treat it immediately with your vet in consultation. Instead of treating a full-blown callus, it is always better to stop something at the beginning. You would not want to see your beloved pooch suffering from pain, would you?

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