How to Treat and Prevent Pressure Sores and Calluses on Dog Elbows

Updated on October 20, 2018
weezyschannel profile image

Lisa's Golden Retriever suffered from calluses on his elbows. She would like to share her prevention tips with other dog owners.

What Is a Callus?

Calluses are thick, rough, overgrown areas of skin that appear over a bony pressure point. The affected skin often hardens as a form of protection. Your dog may also develop hygromas which are soft, fluid-filled subcutaneous sacks that form where friction occurs.

Picture Of A Large Callus on My Dog's Elbow

A callus on my dog's elbow. A callus can be painful and bleed—his was dry and cracked.
A callus on my dog's elbow. A callus can be painful and bleed—his was dry and cracked. | Source

My Dog Developed Calluses on His Upper Elbows

Calluses are not only painful; they can easily become a serious condition for your family pet. My Golden Retriever is 7 years old and this is my story about how his calluses hurt, bled and quickly became unmanageable. It breaks my heart to know that I wasn't knowledgeable enough to understand how these calluses could turn into such a nightmare. Pay attention to your dog, he will let you know if something is hurting. I'll offer some tips on how to prevent the issue in the first place.

Organic Treatment For Dog's Dry Skin and Calluses

ResQ Organics Pet Skin Treatment 2oz - Effective for Hot Spots, Mange, Itchy Skin, Allergies, Dry Nose, Cracked Paws, Promotes Hair Growth.
ResQ Organics Pet Skin Treatment 2oz - Effective for Hot Spots, Mange, Itchy Skin, Allergies, Dry Nose, Cracked Paws, Promotes Hair Growth.

I just bought some of this and this stuff is wonderful! My other small dog, has very dry cracked paw pads and we have been using this on it all week. Does not hurt or burn and has really helped her cracked paws.

 

Calluses on Dogs Cause Pain and Bleed

My Golden Retriever started getting a callus on each elbow. He's a mellow dog; he often plops down on the carpet anywhere. I could actually tell he was not comfortable settling down by the way he would slowly slide his legs down, inch by inch, to get situated on the carpet. When he did try to settle, he would scrape the floor with his elbows along the way.

He was constantly licking his elbows because he did have the calluses. I looked to see if maybe he had a piece of shrubbery, fleas or something from the yard stuck to it. I noticed some blood trickling on his leg going down to his paw. I first thought that his callus had been torn from playing with my other dog. I had some bag balm and I wrapped it with gauze until I got him to the vet.

Infected Callus

Of course, it was a Friday night and the vet's office was closed. It wasn't an emergency but by the time I got my dog his appointment, the callus was getting infected. It cost me $225 for a 7 day supply of antibiotics, pain medicine and a topical spray. The vet said to make my dog a soft bed for him to lay on to help the wounds clear up. Lay it somewhere where he likes to lay down the most (which is usually everywhere; particularly right next to me on the floor by the couch).

Get A Dog Bed To Help Prevent Calluses and Pressure Sores

Furhaven Pet Dog Bed | Orthopedic Ultra Plush Sofa-Style Couch Pet Bed for Dogs & Cats, Gray, Large
Furhaven Pet Dog Bed | Orthopedic Ultra Plush Sofa-Style Couch Pet Bed for Dogs & Cats, Gray, Large

Invest in a soft bed: I purchased a dog bed for my Golden Retriever who was 110 pounds. I must say, he did lay in his bed frequently but he also liked to just plop down anywhere that was convenient. This bed did help heal up some of his calluses as it also it was his comfort zone.

 

Do Not Wrap Pressure Sores or Calluses

If your dog has calluses or sores and they start bleeding or look infected, please take your pet to the vet. Don't wrap them unless the vet tells you to do so. I thought I was helping; instead, I made it worse.

Is a Hygroma The Same Thing As A Callus?

A hygroma is not a callus; it's a fluid filled sac that forms on either the elbows or sometimes hips, and develops under the skin. These normally develop in bigger dogs (because of their weight) who lay on hard floors such as wood floors or concrete. Hygromas usually don't cause any pain and can last a very long time. If they stay small, it usually doesn't cause any problems.

Hygromas can get large and get infected; at that point, it could cause pain for your dog. It's possible your vet may need drain the sac and release the fluid.

Large Hygroma On Dog's Elbow

Remedies for Dog Pressure Sores- Overview

  1. Elbow cream, wax, or Vitamin E: Nothing will stop the calluses from forming since they are caused by pressure, but elbow cream, vitamin E, or wax may help smooth and soften the surrounding skin. The purpose of the cream is to smooth, soften, and help the calluses be less restrictive, tight, and at risk of tearing.
  • Try to help your dog get used to his bed: Remember, he may need some time or he also may take ownership right away.
  • Lay soft blankets or pillows in his normal resting spots: Doing this can help with the times he doesn't want to get in his bed. Your dog doesn't quite understand why he is supposed to lay in his bed when he is relaxing.

Ways You Can Help Heal Your Pet's Sores

  • Do not wrap the callused elbows unless your vet tells you to.
  • If your dog is fairly inactive, take you pet for more walks to keep them from laying down all day.
  • Check your dog's elbow every day to make sure he/she isn't bleeding.
  • Put a sheet down and/or on your couch and let your dog sleep there or somewhere soft.
  • If the wound looks infected, take your dog to a vet immediately.
  • Have your vet prescribe something for pain relief.
  • More importantly! Do not give your dog any of your pain medications or any medicines. Yes, it is true that there are some medications that you can pick up at your pharmacy; however, those are different than pain medicines you may have. A vet has pain medicine specifically for your pet.

Protective Sleeves for Your Dog's Elbow

Dog Lying Callosity Bandage / Dog Elbow Bandage / Dog Hygroma Bandage (Black, M)
Dog Lying Callosity Bandage / Dog Elbow Bandage / Dog Hygroma Bandage (Black, M)

I tried the elbow protector sleeves for my dog's callus. I must say, that these, along with the bed and cream, helped tremendously.

The sleeves aren't tight as wrappiing the callus,; it was not able to get any air for healing. When he chose to slide himself down on the carpet, the sleeve protected it from scraping. I do recommend these as well. The sleeves are also great for pressure sores and hygromas.

 

Always Consult Your Veterinarian

I have provided you my experience and what my vet told me as far as my dog's calluses on his legs. Please take your dog to your vet for any problems that arise that you are concerned about. I am not qualified to give you any direct medical advice. My situation may have been different than yours.

Does Fido Sleep in Your Bed With You?

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© 2011 Lisa

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    • profile image

      chainone 

      9 days ago

      HELP!!! my 12 y/o rottweilers elbows are oozing bleeding and infected due to lying on hard surfaces. She refuses to lay on her bed because the hard wood floors and rugs are cooler than the bedding. i get that. So how do you get a dog to use a bed? i tried making a protector with soft cushioned pads, wrapping both wounds LOOSELY and up around her back... but all that did was cause her legs to swell TWICE their size !!!!! and they were not not not wrapped tight. I tried using a long sleeved Tshirt putting her legs thru the sleeves but of course she licks thru that too...i bought a expensive Suitical Recovery Sleeve, but that only had one sleeve PLUS she licked right thru that. Now i'm due to leave for a 10 day trip to visit my grandchildren across country, and must leave this problem to my husband who is clueless. I am really worried. Meantime shes on antibiotics and Vendo Dermalone Cream. But any creams i put on her just come off when she lies down! ...HELP. i cant afford an 87 dollar sleeve - the other one i bought was $40 and it didnt even work. thank you.

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      2 months ago from Central USA

      @janet I would not be able to answer that unfortunately. Have you contacted the veteranarian? I would be curious to find out what they have to say and if you would be so kind to comment again, it may help another dog owner who may have trouble with the calluses too.

    • profile image

      Janet 

      2 months ago

      What if the callus is so bad that it needs to be removed but, there is not enough skin to close the surgical sight ?

    • profile image

      Valerie A. Jackson 

      2 months ago

      Lisa,

      My 10+ year old German Shepherd has callus's on front elbows. The right one is huge, red (not dark colored anymore), oozing, bleeding, etc. Blown up10 times the size! Looks like it needs to be excised!!

      Especially nasty! It has an opening down the middle where it is oozing clear liquid. Took to Vet and she recommended a callus cuff which I just received. Plus put her on a strong antibiotic. I WAS JUST going to order a VetWrap because I was thinking I should apply Vit.E organic oil or Neopsorin, then a gauze pad, then wrap with VetWrap, and THEN put on the Callus Cuff. Then read your 'DO NOT WRAP". Wish I could show you a picture of this nasty hygroma. Any more ideas? Will it ever go away? I am low income so cannot keep running to Vet. Thanks!

    • profile image

      hdnitetrain52@gmail.com 

      13 months ago

      Love to be informed, thank you.

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      21 months ago from Central USA

      Thanks for your comment! It was hard as a parent to see your baby hurting!

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      21 months ago from Central USA

      I think it depends a lot on your dog on how bad the Calluses can get. My baby was a lazy one and just "flopped" down arms first and scraped his elbows every time on the carpet!

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      21 months ago from Central USA

      It's a horrible merry-go-round with it, that's for sure! Seeing the pain in their eyes is just a heart breaker!

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      22 months ago from Central USA

      Wow! That's great… My dogs Calluses bleed every day unless I'm constantly putting a pillow underneath his elbow so they don't rub on the floor

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      22 months ago from Central USA

      Thank you for your comment! He still has trouble no matter what I do I just try to do the best I can to help alleviate his pain

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      22 months ago from Central USA

      Hopefully your dog will heal a little quicker I just keep putting pillows and pads all over the floor and if he's laying there I will shove them underneath his elbows

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      3 years ago from Central USA

      Great! Thank you so much for the input and thanks for the great idea !

    • profile image

      sharon 

      3 years ago

      I also cut old tube socks and made my Panda some Doggie Sleeves so she eould not lick the medication off. To keep her Sleeves on, I cut a hole in the top of her sleeves and ran some stretchy panty hose through each and over her back. Worked beautifully.

    • Gek Aka profile image

      Geof Awunyo 

      3 years ago from London

      Interesting dogs also have calluses and corns

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      3 years ago from Central USA

      It sounds like you have done almost identical to what I have done with my dog. The sock, the antibiotic, everything. I have purchased one of the dog beds that is shown up above in the page and I have also bought the cream that is also mentioned. These have helped tremendously, however it is up to me as his so-called, mother; to make sure he is laying on his bed or on the couch and not plopping on the carpet or on the cement. You can only do so much and it sounds like you're trying very hard so don't beat yourself up!

      My vet told me not to cover his elbows if specially if they are getting irritated and bleeding because that stops the air from getting on there. It's like a double edged sword, because you need to Protect it so he doesn't scrape them anymore, but yet if you cover them then they're not getting air to heal.

      Try the soft dog bed and the cream and try to keep him off the carpet, cement and hard floors. Good luck to you!

    • profile image

      not sure what to do 

      3 years ago

      I have a chocolate lab that has had problems since she was about 5 years old ..she has three very lovely padded with the waffle like pads and covers but she still has elbows that bet very very bad..bleedind and raw...I have gone to the vet several times and told to use a antibotic which has cured it but the callus is always there so I use vaseline ..but this last time which is now (she is all most 12 years old) her elbows both got really bad before I realized her elbows were soo sore as she has other problelms,, so I am again putting antibotic on both elbows and a kotex pad cut in half to protect then from hard surfaces and to keep the pad in place I take a white cotton sox cut out the toe pull it on her leg with the heel part over the elbow (which seems to fit the elbow curve and then slip the kotex pad tenderly inside the sox over the elbow. this did not work well as the sox kept slipping till I bought some mens susspenders end made it into one strap to go over her shoulders and the suspenders clips are strong enough sto hold the soxs up. for going outside I just wrap saran wrap over the soxs to keep them dry and clean . I do check the sores twice a day to make sure they have stayed soft and healing they must get air so bandages have made them worse and very hard to stay in place..I hope this will help someones dog with this problem..I have found the elbows can get sore very fast..even though I have three lovely dog beds..she likes to lay like a puppy with her front legs straight out so maybe that is part of the problem!!

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      3 years ago from Central USA

      You are very welcome and thank you so much for taking care of your animals as well!

    • profile image

      Naomi 

      3 years ago

      i have six dogs and four cats. five of my dogs are either greyhound or half greyhound so they are very lazy and thin. they all get these calluses on their elbows and it is sometimes hard to manage, but i found that my other dog, who is a spring-triever was harder to deal with because her long hair covered the problem for much longer. ive had dogs my whole life and am quite vigilant for health issues but even my experienced eye missed her elbow issues for a while, because it is just very hard to spot on a longer haired dog (and she is not wimpy like the others). once you become aware of the issue though, dealing with it appropriately is vital, so thank you for spreading the word and sharing your experience.

    • profile image

      Anna 

      4 years ago

      Thanks, that's really helpful information.

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      5 years ago from Central USA

      thats a good one!

    • profile image

      Chris 

      5 years ago

      shrubbery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you were looking for the shrubbery hahahaaaa

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 

      6 years ago from Iowa

      This must be common in larger dogs. My lab mix had them, too. Fortunately, they never bled or became infected.

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa 

      6 years ago from Central USA

      thanks for your comments. It was a nightmare..doing some more updating on this page yet, but wanted to try to help someone who may be as not as informed such as I was

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      Aww, I am glad I saw this, because I wouldn't have known what to do either. The dog in the pic is cute, and I am glad that your dog is getting the help he needs.

    • profile image

      4youreyes 

      6 years ago

      weezychannel,

      Welcome to Hub Pages, what a good topic. My lab has calluses on her front legs and it can be a challenge to keep them softened up for her.

      Have A Good Evening!

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