Dog elbow callus are three words that many pet parents will be well acquainted with. Calluses, also known as pressure sores or hygromas, are thickened, roughened areas of skin that develop due to repeated pressure or friction on a particular area. They are common with large breeds or dogs that spend a lot of time lying on hard surfaces, but that doesn’t mean you’re a bad pet parent.

Doggy elbow calluses are relatively normal but sometimes require a little medical attention. Shall we dive in and learn a little more?

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  1. What Causes Dog Elbow Callus
  2. Symptoms of an Infected Callus on the Dog Elbow
  3. Dog Callus Treatments: The Guide
  4. 5 Ways to Prevent Dog Elbow Calluses
  5. FAQs
  6. Conclusion

What Causes Dog Elbow Callus

Calluses typically develop when a dog repeatedly puts pressure on the same area, such as when lying on hard surfaces like tile or hardwood floors. The pressure can cause the skin to thicken and harden over time, turning into a callus, or calluses in the plural. They leave hardened, rough, scaly patches that are devoid of hair and look cracked.

There’s very little in the way of padding around the elbows of dogs, which is quite odd as their elbows directly touch the ground (or bed) when they lie down. It’s common for pooches to develop calluses in the following areas:

  • Back leg joints (hocks);
  • Hindquarters (specifically muscular and lean breeds);
  • Hips (larger and heavier dogs);
  • Knees;
  • Chest.

Symptoms of an Infected Callus on the Dog Elbow

If you notice anything unusual or different about your dog’s elbow callus, it’s important that you seek medical attention. They can easily become infected with viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other organisms. The same applies to the hair follicles in and around the callus, too.

Keep a close eye on your dog and their calluses. Petcube Cam 360 gives you a 360-degree view of your home with an 8-times digital zoom, so you can monitor your pet’s activity and even get a closer look when things don’t seem right.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s time to get in touch with your vet:

  • Severe cracking of the skin;
  • Bleeding;
  • Seeping/weeping (pus);
  • Redness;
  • Swelling:
  • Warm to touch;
  • Excessive licking of the area;
  • Limping or not using one (affected) limb;
  • Unpleasant smell;
  • Snappy behavior.

Dog Callus Treatments: The Guide

In many cases, elbow calluses on dogs are a purely cosmetic issue, which means that they affect the appearance of your pet and not their quality of life. It doesn’t cause them pain or discomfort, nor does it make life difficult for them. This isn’t always the case, though.

Infected elbow calluses on dogs require medical intervention, often antibiotics, pain relief, and anti-inflammatories. Ulcers can form, according to VCA Animal Hospitals study, known as elbow hygroma, which can require draining and other medications.

The appropriate treatment for a callus on a dog’s elbow heavily depends on the state of the callus, which only a vet can determine. Thankfully, this is something that Petcube’s Emergency Fund can help with! For just $29 per month, you’ll get access to $3,000 of emergency veterinary care a year for up to six pets in your household – but that’s not the best bit! The best bit is that you get fully trained and qualified vets at the tap of your finger, available around the clock for all your pet care questions.

You’ll get an additional 27% off the subscription price if you use this link. Consider it a special thank you from Petcube for being a loyal blog reader.

Dogs with severe calluses or long-term calluses that cause constant problems sometimes require surgery to remove them. This is very much a last resort, especially for younger, more active pets. Constant movement prevents the surgical wounds from healing, which leads to infections and a host of other issues.

5 Ways to Prevent Dog Elbow Calluses

You can prevent calluses from forming on your dog’s elbows and other parts of the body, and you can also stop them from getting any bigger while they’re already developed. Here are five vet-approved ways to prevent dog elbow calluses:

1: Provide Softer Bedding

If your dog’s elbow callus is caused by constantly lying on a hard floor, offer a softer, kinder bed. And by that, I mean, kinder to their elbows. If they refuse to sleep in a bed, a blanket, rug, or other soft material can work just as well.

2: Use Dog-Safe Balm on Callus Spots

When you have hard skin on your feet, you use a foot balm to soften things up, right? Well, you can do the same thing with dogs and their calluses – with a pet-friendly product, of course.

There are plenty of pet- and dog-safe balms, lotions, and moisturizers that can soften the skin of your dog’s calluses and reduce the chances of a potentially dangerous infection. Look for something that contains natural ingredients, no perfume or fragrances, and has good reviews. Alternatively, have a chat with your vet. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction for some good, vet-approved products.

3: Warm Water Baths

Before you use balm or moisturizer on your dog’s elbow callus, you should soften it first using a warm (not hot) water bath. If you can get them to sit still for long enough, soak the callus in the water or soak a towel and hold it on the area. Repeat this every day or as regularly as you can, and you should see softening results. It will definitely help to avoid cracking and, in turn, infection.

4: Use Elbow Pads

Larger and heavier dogs often suffer from calluses more than their smaller, shorter counterparts. Now that you know this, you can stop them from happening before they start by providing your pooch with dog-specific pads that are worn on the elbows and other problematic spots.

5: Get Your Doggo in Shape!

Heavier, overweight dogs are more likely to develop calluses and a whole range of other issues, all of which decrease their quality of life. The very best thing you can do is ensure they are in shape for their size with a vet check.

If your pet is overweight, the vet will provide you with a weight-loss program that is safe, effective, and appropriate for both you and your fur child. When they get down to an acceptable weight, the risks of calluses (and other weight-associated issues) decrease significantly.


Which breed gets elbow calluses the most?

Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, St. Bernards, and Newfoundlands are some of the larger breeds that are predisposed to elbow calluses. Chest calluses are more commonly found on Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Shetland Sheepdogs, Pointers, and Dachshunds.

Why is my dog licking my elbow callus?

Dogs lick when something hurts in the same way that you grab your elbow when you hit it on the doorframe; it’s a self-soothing action. Doggy saliva has some healing properties, too. Unfortunately, excessive licking usually does more harm than good, which is why it should be prevented, and the ‘cone of shame’ is used.


It's important to note that while calluses are generally harmless, they can become problematic if they get infected or if the dog is consistently uncomfortable. Regularly inspecting your dog's skin for any changes and consulting with a veterinarian if you notice abnormalities is crucial for maintaining their overall health and well-being.

If in doubt, give one of Petcube’s always-available vets a shout!

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