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How to Treat and Prevent Calluses on Dog Elbows That Can Bleed

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

My dog suffered from calluses on his elbows, how's how I treated them.

My dog suffered from calluses on his elbows, how's how I treated them.

Dog Elbow Calluses

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. Calluses can get painful if they get infected and/or bleed.

Ways You Can Help Heal Your Dog's Callus

  • Do not wrap the callused elbow unless your vet tells you to.
  • If your dog is fairly inactive, take your 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 where your pet normally lays down; perhaps a bed or couch, and let your dog sleep there or somewhere soft.
  • If the wound looks infected or is bleeding or seeping, take your dog to a vet immediately.
  • Have your vet prescribe something for pain relief.
  • Most 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.

Shirt/Onsie for Help with Shedding

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.

The calluses your dog can develop can not only get painful, but they can also easily become a serious condition. My Golden Retriever was seven 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 they 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

Painful Elbows

My Golden was a mellow dog; he often plopped 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; he would scrape the floor 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 or something from the yard stuck to them because I noticed some blood trickling on his leg going down to his paw. I had some bag balm and I wrapped it with gauze to see if it would help.

Infected Callus

It wasn't long until the callus was getting infected. It cost $225 for a seven-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

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 to drain the sac and release the fluid.

Large Hygroma on Dog's Elbow

Large Hygroma on Dog's Elbow

Possible Remedies for Dog Calluses

  • 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.

Protective Sleeves for Your Dog's Elbow

Always Consult Your Veterinarian

I have provided you with 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.

Please understand that not every callus will get infected or bleed. Your dog may just have one and might not have any problems. Just keep checking it once in a while; if you notice anything, then you can address the situation.

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Read More From Pethelpful

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: I read that sores on dog elbows should not be wrapped yet I've seen recommendations for protective sleeves. Should sores be wrapped or not?

Answer: My vet instructed me not to wrap the elbow. He said that air needed to get to the wound. Keep in mind that my situation may have been different. My dog's elbow was bleeding and had some infection. Please consult the vet if you need assistance and have questions. Your dog may need an antibiotic.-:and depending on the severity of the callus, it may need air to get to it. The dog sleeves have padding in them, and they are not as tight as wrapping it with an Ace bandage.

Question: Do pressure sores and calluses go away? My dog seems to have his hair growing back in the areas the callus flaked away, is that common?

Answer: From my experience with my Golden Retriever, the answer was, no. We could only treat the callus to help it from getting worse, to heal the infection and try to keep him from hard surfaces as much as we could. He was a fairly large dog, and as he got older, he became less active; that certainly didn't help matters. He had arthritis also which made it harder for him to lay down. He would gradually slide his front legs down on the carpet or wherever he was going to lay down. As he went down, he would scrape the calluses which would tear them. He also has hair growing back on and around the calluses, so I'm assuming that is normal.

Question: How do I take care of callouses on hocks from being crated too much?

Answer: I really suggest you maybe ask your vet. I'm not sure of the severity of the situation on top of it. Have you tried bedding, comforters on the floor or inside the crate? I'm not sure how long he is actually crated a day, but if there's a possible way to keep him out a little bit longer so he's not constantly laying on them; but if that's totally impossible, I would, again, try bedding inside the crate to keep his elbows and legs from laying in the hard crate. Also, have you tried any of the creams or anything on his callus?

Question: Three days ago I noticed my dog cried when I touched his leg because he was limping. Today, I let him in from the backyard and he sat there for a little and I could see he was in pain. He is approximately 11 years old and of medium/large size. I can't afford a vet right now, what can I do for him at home?

Answer: First of all, it's no fun to see your beloved pet hurting. I'm not a veterinarian so I can't tell you medically how bad it is because I I have no idea what the elbows look like.

There are some suggestions throughout the article have you tried any of those? Soft bedding, pillows, there are some sprays and creams that I purchased from Amazon that I mentioned.

Do you see them bleeding or draining pus or anyting? Or do they just looked dry cracked and painful?

Question: Can Neosporin be put on an old dog's raw elbow?

Answer: According to the veterinarian, Neosporin is fine to put on your pet's sore. However, they do say that if it is a deep or puncture wound, to please take your pet to the vet to see if it's anything more serious. My vet did recommend to put something over the Neosporin to keep it from ripping open any further or to stop him from licking the Neosporin off.

I would strongly suggest you contact your veterinarian for any further questions or concerns.

© 2011 Lisa

Please Leave Your Comments Below

chainone on October 12, 2018:

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.

Lisa (author) from Central USA on August 08, 2018:

@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.

Janet on August 07, 2018:

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

Valerie A. Jackson on July 31, 2018:


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! on September 16, 2017:

Love to be informed, thank you.

Lisa (author) from Central USA on January 21, 2017:

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

Lisa (author) from Central USA on January 02, 2017:

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!

Lisa (author) from Central USA on January 02, 2017:

It's been a roller coaster that's an understatement! Unfortunately, he passed away recently and our hearts are broken

Lisa (author) from Central USA on January 02, 2017:

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

Lisa (author) from Central USA on December 08, 2016:

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

Lisa (author) from Central USA on December 08, 2016:

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

Lisa (author) from Central USA on December 08, 2016:

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

Lisa (author) from Central USA on June 04, 2015:

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

sharon on May 22, 2015:

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.

Geof Awunyo from London on March 28, 2015:

Interesting dogs also have calluses and corns

Lisa (author) from Central USA on January 24, 2015:

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!

not sure what to do on January 23, 2015:

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!!

Lisa (author) from Central USA on January 12, 2015:

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

Naomi on January 11, 2015:

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.

Anna on March 03, 2014:

Thanks, that's really helpful information.

Lisa (author) from Central USA on June 03, 2013:

thats a good one!

Chris on May 30, 2013:

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

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on November 09, 2011:

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

Lisa (author) from Central USA on November 08, 2011:

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

Shasta Matova from USA on November 08, 2011:

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.

4youreyes on November 08, 2011:


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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