My Dog Has An Elbow Callus Infection – What Do I Do?

Many large breed canine friends will develop elbow calluses over time.

The weight of their bodies can put pressure on the elbows each time they rest, causing a thickening of the tissue in the area.

While this can be a normal development in many cases, it can also open the door for an elbow callus infection.

In this article we will discuss the development of elbow calluses in our furry friends, and what you can do if your pup is suffering from an elbow callus infection.

What Is An Elbow Callus In Dogs?

Why Does My Dog Have An Elbow Callus Infection

Have you ever noticed a thickening of the tissue on the parts of your hands that you use most?

We often develop calluses on the palms of our hands or the crooks of our fingers, and our dog’s skin is no different.

Calluses are just a hyperplastic skin reaction that develops around bony regions of the body, often as a result of long term pressure or friction.

After understanding that a callus is just hardened tissue in common pressure points, you can begin to picture what an elbow callus looks like in our canine friends.

These calluses typically develop on the side of the elbow that touches the ground as they rest, often leading to a thickening of the tissue in that area.

These calluses may be darker than the rest of the dog’s skin, and will often be hairless as a result of the tissue changes.

These calluses will typically be hard or rough to the touch, almost acting as a thick ‘cushion’ in the region your dog uses most.

Once these calluses have some time to develop, they will often be obvious with a quick glance of the area.

You may also notice these calluses on your dog’s sternum, hind legs, or any other regions that are common pressure points for your pup.

What Causes Elbow Calluses In Dogs?

As we mentioned above, elbow calluses in dogs often develop as a result of repetitive pressure or friction to the area.

Most cases of elbow calluses are a result of laying on hard surfaces, as the elbows make contact with the ground each time they relax.

This is exacerbated in cases where a dog lays on hard or rough surfaces, as the skin of the elbow is irritated with each movement.

While most cases of elbow calluses are a result of laying on hard surfaces, there are other factors that are known to make a dog more at risk of this tissue thickening.

Some of the most common exacerbating factors include:

  • Old age, as older dogs tend to lay around more often than younger canine friends
  • Joint and mobility issues, as these pups may hit the ground harder due to complications with movement

If your pup lives a more sedentary life, it’s important to keep an eye out for the development of calluses on any part of their body.

While elbow calluses are often just a cosmetic issue, they can lead to complications in some furry friends.

Are Some Dogs More Prone To Elbow Calluses?

Some dogs are known to develop elbow calluses more often than others.

Large breed dogs are the most common victims of pressure point calluses, as the weight of their bodies puts more stress on their bony joints.

While size is the main factor behind this skin condition, there are some breeds that are more susceptible as well.

Some of the breeds that are most prone to elbow calluses include:

  • Rottweilers
  • Great Danes
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Boxers
  • Mastiffs
  • Pointers
  • Dachshund
  • Basset Hounds
  • Doberman Pinschers

Is It An Elbow Callus Or A Mass?

Due to the fact that elbow calluses can become thicker and thicker with time, many pet owners wonder if this rough patch may actually be a mass.

Elbow calluses will often be hairless as a result of chronic tissue changes, making these areas stick out like a sore thumb.

The only accurate way to rule out a growing mass is through a visit to your vet, but there are a few traits that can ease your mind.

When feeling an elbow callus on your pup, it will typically just be a patch of thickened skin on the surface of your dog’s elbow.

These spots should not have branches, meaning you typically will not feel any attachments under the skin to any surrounding tissues.

In addition to the tissue not having any attachments under the skin, the callus itself also should not grow rapidly.

Elbow calluses typically develop over time as the area becomes more and more irritated, so any rapid growth can be a cause of concern.

Not only could this point to a possible mass, but it could even be a result of an elbow callus infection.

If your dog’s elbow callus seems abnormal in any way, we always suggest speaking with your veterinarian.

Is It An Elbow Hygroma?

Not only can dogs develop calluses on areas with repetitive pressure, but they can develop hygromas as well.

A hygroma is a fluid-filled sac that develops around boney regions, most often on the canine elbow.

Hygromas are also known to grow in regions with repetitive trauma, and this includes hitting their elbow on the ground each time a dog lays down.

Most hygromas are pain-free, mobile, and often squishy to the touch.

They can become hard with time as they grow larger, as the sack will continue to fill with fluid.

Most hygromas will be noticeable at this point, prompting a vet visit to get to the bottom of their strange elbow growth.

Can A Dog’s Elbow Callus Get Infected?

As we mentioned above, an elbow callus can be much more than a simple cosmetic issue.

The rough surface of an elbow callus is the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive, offering them an easy entry to damaged tissue when the callus becomes irritated.

An elbow callus can easily be damaged with daily activity.

Something as simple as scratching their elbow on a rough surface or hitting the ground with force can cause the callus to ooze and bleed, often leading to a small wound.

Once an elbow callus becomes cracked or damaged in any way, bacteria can gain entry to the area.

Once this happens, an infection can develop.

Symptoms Of An Elbow Callus Infection In Dogs

If you fear an elbow callus infection in your canine friend, there are a few symptoms that you can be on the lookout for.

While many elbow calluses are a cosmetic issue that does not lead to discomfort, an elbow callus infection can be extremely bothersome for the dog affected.

Some of the most common causes of an elbow callus infections in dogs includes:

  • Swelling of the elbow callus
  • Redness of the skin surrounding the callus
  • Pain or sensitivity of the elbow
  • Oozing or bleeding from the elbow callus
  • Odor from the elbow callus
  • Limping on the leg affected

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your canine companion, we suggest reaching out to your veterinarian for further care.

Treating Elbow Callus Infections In Dogs

If your furry friend is diagnosed with an elbow callus infection, there are typically a few options on the table based on the severity of their case.

To help you better understand what you can expect from the vet, let’s list a few of the most common treatment methods below.

Oral Antibiotics

Antibiotics will often be prescribed when your dog is diagnosed with an elbow callus infection.

Most vets will begin with their antibiotic of choice, but some may also suggest performing a culture if the infection is not responding to the initial antibiotic treatment.

Topical Antibiotics

In addition to oral antibiotics, some vets will prescribe topical antibiotics as well.

This can be applied to the callus directly, allowing the ointment to soak into the infected tissue.

Soft Bedding

Padded bedding with extra support is essential for a dog with an elbow callus infection.

Continuing to rest on a hard surface will not only cause further trauma to the area, but it will only continue the cycle of callus growth.

Soft bedding will not only help dogs with elbow callus infections, but dogs with minor elbow calluses as well.


Hydrotherapy can stimulate healing in dogs with an elbow callus infection.

Not only can or promote blood flow to the area in question, but it can also provide relief in managing painful inflammation.

Some veterinarians will recommend twice daily hydrotherapy for furry friends with an elbow callus or hygroma infection.

Pain Relief

Pain relief can be prescribed to dogs that are experiencing pain as a result of their elbow callus infection.

Your vet may recommend anti-inflammatory medications to address any inflammation of the tissue, as well as prescribed pain control to ease their discomfort as they heal.

Tending To Underlying Factors

As we mentioned earlier, some dogs can develop elbow calluses as a result of underlying factors.

Things like joint disorders, obesity, and even severe emaciation can put additional stress on a dog’s elbows, causing them to experience a chronic cycle of trauma to the region.

While some of these issues cannot always be eliminated, they can be minimized with the support of your veterinarian.

Can I Treat My Dog’s Elbow Callus At Home?

There are no magic treatment options for treating elbow calluses in our canine friends, but there are ways to end the cycle of trauma to the area.

Because most elbow calluses develop as a result of laying on hard surfaces, the best thing you can do is offer your pup a supportive area to rest.

Padded beds are essential for dogs that are prone to elbow calluses, as this can take the pressure off their sore elbows with each nap.

Not only can elbow calluses be managed with the addition of padded bedding, but you can also keep the callus moisturized as best as possible.

Hydrating balms can prevent cracking of the skin on these rough patches, potentially preventing any secondary infections down the line.

If you need guidance on the best moisturizing balms for your pup, we suggest asking your vet for advice.

 Final Thoughts

As you can see, elbow calluses can become much more than an unsightly lesion on our furry friends.

Be sure to not only monitor your dog’s elbow callus for any sign of infection, but to also seek care at the first sign of complications.

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