You are a really good dog mom or dad, you know you are! Your dog gets the best of food, high-quality treats, safe toys and has thick, cushy beds in every room of the house. You even splurged and have an outdoor bed so all of the family can be comfy on the deck. So, what the heck is your pampered pet doing with ugly elbow calluses? Your friends ask, “What is that on his elbows?” with a tone that seems a bit accusatory, touched with shock and disgust (or so it feels like). It seems that no matter what you do, there they are…big, ugly calluses hanging off his elbows.
First let’s chat about what causes those elbow uglies…we will be all professional and called them pressure sores.
Pressure sores are areas of skin and the tissue underneath that are right over bony part that poke out (like elbows) and have been damaged by trauma from continuous pressure (like laying around). Calluses are thick, rough overgrowth areas of skin over a bony pressure point–they are hard and actually form to protect. Hygromas are soft, fluid-filled subcutaneous sacks that form right where the friction occurs (like the aforementioned elbows). Another fancy name for pressure sores in dogs is decubital ulcers. Calluses are really common, luckily the hygromas are not.
Calluses and hygromas are seen more often in large, heavy or giant-breed dogs and those that either prefer to sleep or rest on a hard surface, or are kenneled on a hard surface. In warmer areas the harder surfaces are usually cooler for big dogs, creating a dilemma. Just like a callus we would get on a thumb or heel, dogs get them from continual pressure on a point. The elbow is probably the most common site of pressure sores, although they also occur on the hips, hocks and along the sides of the legs.
The best way to prevent pressure sores is to provide dogs with thick, comfy, luxurious beds everywhere they usually rest. Elderly dogs or dogs that are physically challenged should be given very soft, thick, well-padded beds to lie on, such as egg crate foam filled or special orthopedic dog beds. Just like bed-ridden people, you may have to physically turn an especially “bed-bound” dog every few hours, to prevent “dog bed sores.”
Simple calluses are not a disease or a reason to rush to the vet, they are a condition, a situation caused by the environment. As much as you may try to get your 200 pound Mastiff buddy to lie on his soft, plush bed, he just may prefer the concrete patio. There probably is not much you can do to change his mind.
It is a different matter if your dog has an ulcerated, open, oozing sore on the callused area that is infected or seems on the verge of infection. That warrants a trip to the vet and antibiotics may be needed. There may be a very rare suspicion of bone cancer and if so, biopsies will be performed. That is beyond the scope of this article/post. Once again, check with your vet if in doubt or it is obviously more than a simple callus!
The fluid-filled hygromas may be treated by draining and flushing the lesion. This is done just like it sounds, a needle is inserted and the fluid drained. This will be an ongoing process of having the fluid drained every so often. Yep, vet stuff! Do not attempt at home.
Surgical removal of calluses or hygromas is usually not recommended. There is some laser therapy treatment in the works, we will see what happens with that!
All pressure sores should be cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then, you guessed it, Elbow Butter™applied. That is pretty much all that can be done. I know! Frustrating, but there you have it. Let’s sum it up…
Official disclaimer: This article is intended to inform and educate NOT take the place of a trip to the vet or regular vet care. Just sharing info. The Blissful Dog and Kathy Dannel Vitcak are not responsible for any results that may happen from reading this (unless they are positive and then we will take all the credit).
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