Elbow Calluses in Dogs: Treatment, Causes & Prevention

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Elbow calluses are a common problem that many dogs experience. A callus is often simply a cosmetic issue without accompanying pain or discomfort but can lead to more serious health problems if not treated. There are a number of risk factors that make it more likely your dog will develop an elbow callus.

This article will discuss common causes of elbow calluses in dogs, as well as the best ways to prevent and treat them and what to do in case of infection.

The dog sleeps on hard ground instead of a bed


Is it a good idea to treat a dog’s elbow calluses at home?

If your dog does develop elbow calluses, it is important to treat them so that they do not become infected or lead to more serious health conditions. If the callus cracks, bleeds, or you see signs of infection, contact your dog’s veterinarian right away.

There are a number of ways you can treat your dog’s callus at home, as long as it is not infected. Be sure to continue preventative measures, such as providing soft surfaces to lie on, while treating the sores. Also, check elbows frequently to be sure they have not become infected.

Do not bandage calluses – unless you are instructed to by your dog’s vet.

Apply a quality dog balm – Even our Paws and Snout Premium dog balm is designed for treating a wide spectrum of issues that primarily involve the dog’s paws and noses, we already received a couple of customer feedbacks praising our balm for effectively treating and minimizing their dog’s elbow calluses too.

Our balm is heavily packed with vitamins and organic ingredients which work and do wonders for both paws and noses to prevent dry skin and irritation and thus can be recommended for preventing and treating dog elbow calluses too.

? Apply the balm up to 3 times per day to see improvement.

Give your dog supplemental Vitamin E to promote healing – Vitamin E can be given orally or applied topically. Always consult your dog’s vet before beginning any supplementation.

Water therapy can be helpful in treating calluses and in relieving pain – Your dog’s vet can recommend a hydrotherapy provider.

The mid-sized non-infected elbow callus
The mid-sized non-infected elbow callus.

If a callus becomes infected, your dog’s veterinarian will provide treatment instructions. It is very important to follow these instructions carefully. Signs of infection in a callus include:

  • Oozing pus
  • Bleeding
  • Redness and swelling
  • Pain or sensitivity in the elbow
  • A limp on the affected limb

Your dog may be treated with oral or topical antibiotics to treat the infection. Your vet may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to ease discomfort.

? Any signs of infection should be reported to your dog’s vet right away.

What are the main causes of doggie’s elbow calluses?

Elbow calluses are pressure sores that result from friction and trauma on the elbow area. This mainly occurs when dogs spend a lot of time lying on hard surfaces, where pressure is exerted on their elbows. The elbow skin thickens to protect the joint, resulting in a callus, which is generally painless.

Certain factors increase the chance of your dog developing an elbow infection. Age, size, and pre-existing health conditions can put your dog at high risk. It is important to understand your dog’s risk so you can take measures to prevent calluses from developing.


As dogs get older they become more prone to developing elbow calluses. Senior dogs tend to spend more time lying down than younger dogs and this means there is pressure placed on their elbows more often. As dogs become less mobile, their risk of developing calluses increases.


Larger dog breeds develop elbow calluses more often because there is greater weight exerted on their elbows when they lie down. Rottweilers, Great Danes, and Labrador Retrievers are particularly prone to elbow calluses due to their large size.

Obesity puts a dog at greater risk for calluses as well, due to the extra pressure on the dog’s joints when they lie down. On the other end of the spectrum, being emaciated can also lead to elbow calluses because an underweight dog has no padding to protect its elbows.

Health Problems

Dogs with health problems are more likely to develop elbow calluses because they are often less mobile than healthy dogs. Arthritis and injuries often cause mobility issues that may result in elbow calluses.

How effectively prevent calluses on canine pointy elbows

Active prevention is important to protect your dog from developing elbow calluses. Soft bedding, elbow sleeves, and frequent exercise are the best ways to prevent pressure sores.

Soft Bedding

Because elbow calluses are caused by lying on hard surfaces, providing your dog with a soft place to lie is the best way to reduce the chances of calluses developing. Put a soft dog bed or a thick blanket on the floor where your dog usually lies.

? You may need to put soft bedding down in multiple spots in your house to encourage your dog to use them often.

If your dog spends a lot of time lying down on hard asphalt or concrete areas outdoors, you can invest in an elevated bed. Elevated beds are also great in warm weather when your dog may be hesitant to lie on a floor bed. An elevated bed will allow them to stay cooler than an ordinary dog bed will.


If your dog is at high risk for developing calluses, you can try putting sleeves over their elbows to relieve the pressure on their skin. Many retailers sell special elbow sleeves for dogs. You can also make a sleeve from a sock and keep it in place using medical tape.


Promote frequent physical exercise. Take your dog for walks often and play together to get your dog moving. The less time your dog spends lying down, the less likely that they will develop calluses.

Exercise is also crucial in helping your dog maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight puts more pressure on your dog’s joints, so use diet and exercise to help your dog maintain a healthy weight for their breed.

If your dog has difficulty exercising due to mobility issues, hydrotherapy may be helpful. Underwater treadmills and other water-based activities can help your dog to regain mobility and lose weight without putting excessive strain on its joints.