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Ask the Vet: My Dog’s Elbows Have Calluses

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My dog has very rough calluses on his elbows (there’s now no hair on his elbows). Should I be doing something with these to make him more comfortable? Are the calluses dangerous?

Calluses aren’t dangerous. They’re actually quite normal; they are just thickened skin over the bony points of the elbow, and are designed to protect the bone. You may also find them over your dog’s hocks, or on his hips.

If the calluses become grazed or scratched as your dog lies on the ground, they can become ulcerated and infected. These can be very difficult to clear up, and he will need long term antibiotics.

Another problem that can occur is that the callus develops a hygroma. This is a fluid filled pouch under the thickened skin. The best treatment for these is to just leave them alone. Pressure bandages may help to reduce the fluid volume. Some people like to try surgical drainage, but this often doesn’t have very good results.

There is nothing that will remove the calluses apart from surgery, but you don’t want to do this unless you absolutely have to. They are serving a purpose. The only thing you need to do is provide your dog with soft bedding, or even some elbow pads to stop the calluses getting worse. Check them regularly, and if they are becoming red or ulcerated, have them treated as soon as you can.

The purpose of this column is to educate. DogTipper shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by this site. This column does not replace the importance of specific advice from your own veterinarian. If you have any concerns at all about your dog’s health, please make an appointment with your vet.

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Jana Rade

Tuesday 14th of June 2011

Our experience is that where the dogs lay makes a difference. Our old rescue had huge ones on his elbows, but they softened up and shrunk when he started living with us. Jasmine also started developing them, but now with her new beds they are also gone.

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