If you have been a dog parent for a while now, you probably know that calluses can appear on your pet’s body in many regions, but especially their elbows. While most of these calluses are not going to cause health problems, they do require some degree of care, or they can become infected.
Read on to find out everything you should know about elbow calluses on dogs.
Why do elbow calluses form in dogs?
First of all, some dog breeds are more likely to get elbow calluses compared to others. So, if your dog is a Rottweiler, a Labrador Retriever, or a Bullmastiff, for example, they have a higher chance of developing an elbow callus at one point throughout their life.
The two major causes of this potential complication are age and mobility problems. As you probably know, when dogs go through trauma or if they suffer from a chronic condition that makes it painful for them to move properly, they might sit more and, therefore, put more pressure on some parts of their bodies.
Elbow calluses are also associated with a sedentary lifestyle, which can become common not just in pets whose owners do not have enough time to go with them on long walks every day, but they can also appear in seniors because they tend to take it easier with exercise on the whole.
Skin (whether that of humans or animals) is known for losing its elasticity with age, so that means that your dog’s elbows might not get the same amount of blood circulation or collagen in that body area – therefore increasing the risk of a callus forming there.
Another cause that might not be as common as some of the previously mentioned ones is ingrown hair. If your dog gets one in their elbow area, a callus might form as a self-defense mechanism. Unfortunately, ingrown hairs tend to cause a lot of problems in dogs, mostly related to infection – some can turn into pyoderma.
Can you prevent your dog from getting elbow calluses?
If your canine friend is a senior, preventing calluses can be quite challenging for the reasons we’ve already discussed above.
However, if your dog tends to sleep on a hard surface, you can at least make it more difficult for calluses to be developed by providing them with soft blankets or cushions on which they can rest whenever they feel like it.
Elbow pads (or sleeves) exist for larger breeds that are more likely to develop calluses in these areas, and they are utilized to prevent additional trauma. If your pet doesn’t have a problem with wearing them, we strongly suggest that you consider investing in a set.
Since we mentioned that elbow calluses are more common in dogs that do not get enough exercise, making some changes to your routine so that your pet gets at least one to two hour long walks every day can improve the local blood flow and prevent this issue to some extent.
Your veterinarian can give you some more advice in this respect, especially if your pet has a history of elbow calluses and you’re not really looking to treat them that often.
What is the treatment for elbow calluses in dogs?
It all depends on the severity of the elbow callus that has developed on your pet’s body. If they have somehow affected the area to the extent that an infection is developed, the vet will have to prescribe general antibiotics or at least an ointment containing antibiotics to combat the growth of the germs in the area and to ensure that the issue doesn’t spread to the skin around the primarily affected area.
Many topical medications exist today, and once your vet performs some diagnostic tests, mostly focusing on finding out what microorganism has caused the infection, they can prescribe you the correct one.
There is the possibility that the callus has led to such severe damage that the only way to fix the problem is to perform an operation and surgically remove the affected tissue. The biggest issue with this path is that most dogs that have elbow calluses have a high chance of getting them time and again.
To make things worse, recovery isn’t as easy as it would be if the operation were to be performed in a different area (one that gets ventilated enough), such as your dog’s back. Wound healing in that area is challenging, and the truth is that it can also add to the pet’s discomfort on the whole.
You probably know that most dogs, when sitting on any surface, will put some pressure on their elbows to maintain their body position – so they might be in pain for one to two weeks after the operation is performed. For this reason, surgery for elbow calluses on dogs should be the last resort.
Giving your dog vitamin E, a nutrient that’s widely known for protecting the skin and also making it more flexible can be a good way to prevent things from getting worse.
Dog balms these days come with a variety of gentle ingredients such as oatmeal extracts and vitamin E, as well as natural oils like jojoba oil or coconut oil. By applying such a product on your dog’s calluses, you’re making them softer, and in time, they might scale and disappear.
Do dogs’ elbow calluses disappear?
Unless the cause of this skin complication is addressed properly so that their recurrence is prevented, elbow calluses are not going to disappear on their own.
Using preventive treatments such as dog balms, giving your dog skin health supplements, as well as ensuring that they are very well-hydrated even in the summer and that they sleep on a soft surface can be a good way of managing the issue properly.