FRUSTRATING! Dog elbow calluses are one of those maddening problems we face as dog owners. Not only are dog elbow calluses ugly to look at, sometimes the callus can ulcerate and get infected or crack and bleed.
You spent big bucks for a thick, cushy orthopedic dog bed and your Lab looked at it, then flopped down on the tile in the kitchen. Everything you've tried has been a waste of time and money.
Calluses are the thick, rough skin over a bony pressure point, just like a callus on our heel from that glorious pair of shoes that never quite fit right, but we wore anyway.
Often called pressure sores, dog elbow calluses appear as a result of your dog's body protecting the bony part that pokes out. Continual trauma caused by your dog flopping down on the aforementioned cool tile or concrete causes the skin to thicken to protect the bone. Calluses DO perform a service, but it can be lessened.
Hygromas are soft, fluid-filled subcutaneous sacks that form right where the friction occurs (like the elbows). Another fancy name for pressure sores in dogs is decubital ulcers. This condition means vet visit time!
Our large, heavy or giant-breed dogs are much more prone to elbow calluses. The giant breeds that are heavily coated usually do not have as many elbow callus issues as their shorter coated cousins, as their coat softens the blow of the elbow against the ground. That is why your Newfoundland is not as likely to develop elbow calluses as his shoer coated cousin the Mastiff.
In warmer areas hard surfaces are usually cooler for big dogs, creating a dilemma. Your Lab is hot and just wants to spread across the cool concrete of the patio and catch a breeze. He doesn't care about his elbow calluses, he just wants to cool his belly.
The elbow is the most common site of calluses for dogs, although they also occur on the hips, hocks and along the sides of the legs.
Dogs of all sizes that are kept on hard surfaces may also develop calluses. We see many dogs that come into rescue with callused elbows, hocks etc. from living on hard surfaces. This does not mean dogs with elbow calluses were mistreated, at all!
The best way to prevent dog calluses is to have comfy dog beds available in multiple locations. Elderly dogs or dogs that are physically challenged especially need thick, well-padded beds. Special orthopedic dog beds or those with the egg carton foam are great for dogs who have begun to slow down.
TIP! You may have to physically turn a “bed-bound” dog every few hours, to prevent “dog bed sores.”
Try as you might to entice your 200 pound Mastiff buddy to lie on his soft, plush bed, he may prefer the ceramic tile. Short of a room with wall to wall dog beds or crating your big dog, there is not much you can DO to force him to lie on a soft surface.
Getting your big dog to sleep somewhere he does not want to is like the old joke, "Where does a 500 pound gorilla sleep? Anywhere he wants."
If your dog has an ulcerated, open, possibly infected sore on the callused area, CALL THE VET. This warrants a vet visit and possibly antibiotics. Bone cancer may be a concern and if so, biopsies will be performed. Not trying to scare you, just saying.
Simple calluses are not a reason to rush to the vet, they are a condition caused by the repeated trauma to the elbow. Hygromas, ulcerated elbows and anything that looks infected ARE a reason for a vet visit.
Of course, check with your vet if in doubt or it is obviously more than a simple callus!
The fluid-filled hygromas may be treated by being drained and flushed. This is done just like it sounds, a needle is inserted and the fluid drained. This will have to be done regularly. Yep, vet stuff! Do not attempt at home.
Surgical removal of calluses or hygromas is usually not recommended. Unlike people feet, shaving a callus is not recommended. Thought I admit, the thought of a razor on my feet makes me shaky...ugh.
Let’s sum it up…