We’ve never had an issue with elbow calluses on our dogs until we moved into a home with ceramic tile. After living in our home for two weeks, I noticed our Rottweiler was developing rough spots around his elbows. We needed to address the calluses on his elbows quickly.
Basically, elbow calluses develop mostly around the elbow area and sometimes hocks (back legs). These calluses are dry, scaly, hairless and firm. Some calluses are dark brown and black, and others are gray; it depends on your dog’s skin and how long your dog has had a callus. Just like humans, calluses are caused by skin coming into contact with something rough or hard repeatedly. Over time, rough skin forms and, if left untreated, become a callus.
Some pet owners refer to dog calluses as pressure sores, but I think there’s a huge difference. If left untreated, some dog elbow calluses will crack and bleed, causing a lesion (sore). If a pressure sore is left untreated, it will likely become infected. If your dog’s calluses are oozing or bleeding, I would schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any issues.
Preventing a callus from forming on your dog’s elbows is a tough one. Lying on soft bedding will prevent calluses, but some dogs prefer cool tile to an expensive orthopedic bed. Trust me, I’ve been there! My Rottie has multiple cushy beds scattered around our home, but he prefers to lie on cool tile, especially during warmer months. During colder months, calluses seem to disappear because dogs will choose to lie on warmer, softer bedding.
During warmer months, instead of prevention, I jump straight into treatment, which prevents calluses from getting out of hand.
Thankfully, there are tons of treatments for dog elbow calluses out there that work. I’ll share a few products I’ve personally used with great success as well as products that didn’t work out too well and why.
By far, this product has worked the best. The Blissful Dog Elbow Butter is packed into tubes that resemble huge chapstick containers. Just pull off the long plastic cap, twist the bottom of the tube to push the product upward and apply generously. After having dabbed Elbow Butter all around my dog’s elbow callus, I began to rub the product onto his skin. Using your fingers, gently massage the product into the callus. As you’re rubbing, you’ll feel different callus layers; make sure to rub the product between these layers. In the beginning, I apply Elbow Butter twice a day–in the morning and before bed. After a week, you’ll notice your dog’s callus soften, so apply once a day going forward. Elbow Butter is made of all-natural ingredients, so it’s completely safe if your dog licks the area.
Petroleum jelly is tried and true; it will soften most calluses pretty quickly. Generously apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to your dog’s calluses and rub it in. Massaging the product into calluses is an important step. You need to reach all areas of a callus, and not just the top surface area. Apply every 12 hours for a week, and then keep the area soft with daily applications.
One negative about using petroleum jelly is it will leave the area feeling and looking greasy, which can transfer onto your flooring. However, with a low price point, I think it’s an easy issue to look over.
Can You Get Rid of The Black Hard Skin?
You can you get rid of the severe dry patches if you start treating them and continue to treat them.
If its been years and youre only now starting to treat the hard black patches that have developed, then its unlikely youll ever get the skin to look normal again but that shouldnt be your objective. Your goal should be to soften the skin with the aim of preventing any cracking and infection, help increase the range of movement for you beautiful dogs elbows and hips and prevent them worsening.
In some cases with continued on-going treatment you may see a significant improvement in the black patches and may see them reduce in size.
Its unlikely the fur will grow back in these areas if the black calluses persist. If its just the hard dry skin youre treating then there is a good possibility that the fur will grow back in the affected areas once the dryness has cleared up. However, the regrowth of the fur will also depend on your dogs age, health, diet and if they continue to sleep on hard surfaces. But remember youre aim is to keep the patches soft and prevent other issues developing.
Why Do Dogs Get Black/Sore Patches on Their Elbows, Hips and Ears?
Dogs most prone to calluses are generally those dogs that are overweight or big and heavy breeds, those that tend to be susceptible to skin problems and shorter haired coated dogs.
Its not to say that your big hairy pouch or your small chihuahua wont get them but the black patches tend to be more common on dogs like labradors, bull mastiffs or dogs that spend a lot of time on hard surfaces irrespective of the breed.
Ways to Help Prevent Elbow Callusos in Dogs
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Can I use coconut oil on my dogs calluses?
It’s great to apply as it’s naturally antifungal and antibacterial. Your dog will no doubt lick it off but try to prevent that for at least 5 minutes whilst the oil has time to penetrate the hard skin. Also make sure you buy the 100% pure coconut oil that has the meat in it, not neutral.
How do I stop my dogs elbow crusty?