by Kathy Dannel Vitcak 5 min read

What's Wrong With Your Dog's Elbows?

You're back at the dog park with your big buddy, a cool dude of a Dogue de Bordreaux. He's a great dog (you have accepted slobber on every surface years ago) and is good with your Frenchie, the one you had at the park yesterday (see SNIFF IT GOOD POST). You're minding your own business watching your dog do HIS business, when a woman walks by and says to her dog, "Mummy would NEVER let you get elbow calluses like that poor dog has." 

Reaching into reservoirs of self-control you didn't know you had, you do NOT throw the contents of the very full poop bag at her head. You sigh and head home, the fun of the dog park has been ruined for the day.

This isn't the first time someone has commented on your big guy's elbow calluses. It is so frustrating as you know you are a great dog parent and go the extra mile for your pup, but you can't seem to figure out how to treat your dog's elbow calluses. Let's get your dog's elbow problems sorted out! No more ELBOW CALLUS shaming allowed on our watch!

mastiff has elbow calluses

What Causes Your Dog's Elbow Calluses?

Cracked, maybe even bleeding, thick and ugly – dog elbow calluses are not only unsightly to look at, they can lead to infection. First, let's see what causes these elbow problems in dogs and what a callus really is.


OFFICIAL SCIENTIFIC DEFINITION

n. pl. cal·lus·es – cal·lus

1.a. A localized thickening and enlargement of the horny layer of the skin. 

b. The hard bony tissue that develops around the ends of a fractured bone during healing.

Botany

a. Undifferentiated tissue that develops on or around an injured or cut plant surface or in tissue culture.

b. The hardened, sometimes sharp base of the floret of certain grasses. intr.v. cal·lusedcal·lus·ingcal·lus·es


dog elbow calluses

MORE SCIENCE

Calluses are thick overgrowth areas of skin that form over a bony pressure point (like an elbow) to protect the bone. Hygromas are soft, fluid-filled subcutaneous sacks that form right where the friction occurs (like the aforementioned elbows). Another fancy name for pressure sores or calluses in dogs is decubital ulcers. Calluses are really common, luckily the hygromas are not. If your dog has a hygroma please get off the internet and call the vet, those things can be nasty.

Just like a callus we get on our finger where a ring rubs or our heel from a tight pair of shoes, dogs get elbow calluses from continual pressure on an area. Your dog’s elbow is probably the most common site to create a callus, although they also occur on the hips, hocks and along the sides of the legs.

Big dogs, especially big dogs with shorter coats (such as Doge de Bordeauxs, Mastiffs, Bullmastiffs, Cane Corsos, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers etc.) are often plagued by elbow calluses. Dogs that are bigger and/or heavier have more of a tendency to form calluses where their body hits the ground. 

We do also see callus elbow problems on dogs who come into rescue and have been housed with nothing but concrete flooring. Sad, I know.

And it is not just tile or concrete floors that cause calluses, short pile carpet can be a big factor in callus creation.

dog elbows

WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT DOG ELBOW CALLUSES?

You bought expensive orthopedic dog beds perfectly coordinated to your decor and have them in several rooms.  Then, of course, your big dog flops down on the concrete patio, kitchen tile or the hard dirt. 

Thick, plush beds help, but just like we mentioned earlier, they will not always lie on their beds. Special orthopedic dog beds (with the egg carton looking foam) are perfect, especially for senior dogs or dogs with limited mobility. TIP: You may have to literally turn your elderly dog to prevent “dog bed sores.”

Since elbow calluses are a condition caused by the environment, you do not need to rush to the vet, but it is definitely something you want to monitor. If the callused area is infected, oozing or inflamed a trip to the vet and antibiotics may be needed. Bone cancers and other diseases are possible, but thankfully are not as common. 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 it. A big needle is inserted and the fluid drained and may have to be done on a regular basis. Yep, vet stuff! Do not attempt at home. My knees got weak just thinking about doing that myself! FYI: Just so you know, surgical removal of calluses or hygromas is usually not recommended. There is experimental laser therapy treatment for dog elbow calluses in the works, but nothing with viable results, yet.

ELBOW BUTTER was created to soften and soothe your dog’s elbow calluses. The layered effect of the various moisturizing butters and oils will soften the calluses and help them be more comfortable.  Plus, the herbal properties of the various ingredients will support the aggravated tissue.

ELBOW CAVEAT: ELBOW BUTTER was not created to completely remove the calluses, but it will help the callused area not be so tight and uncomfortable.
That said, I have had customers report their dog's elbow calluses completely went away and the hair grew back. While, this often happens, I cannot guarantee it, as so many factors come into play. The angle in which your dog lies down, how hard they flop, from how high they are when they drop…you get the idea.

STEP BY STEP ELBOW CALLUS ACTION PLAN

  • Provide soft, comfy beds and encourage their use
  • Keep clean
  • Apply ELBOW BUTTER 2-3x weekly
  • Visit vet as needed  

Elbow Butter Testimonial – I had a very welcome phone call from a delighted dog mom. Her German Shepherd had bad elbow calluses and after three months of using Elbow Butter the hair had almost completely returned. Lucretia shared with me that her vet was amazed and told her to just keep using the Elbow Butter. That was a great call to answer!

SHOP ELBOW BUTTER RIGHT HERE

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 the results are positive and then we will take all the credit). A dog elbow callus is not life-threatening, but needs attention and observation.



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