It isn’t that uncommon to get a callus on a part of our body, like our hands when we are using them constantly. These develop from doing something repeatedly or from doing a specific task like raking or shoveling. They can appear quite quickly and without warning. What if I told you that my dog has calluses on his elbows?
Would you be surprised to know that dogs often develop calluses on the joints of their legs? Dogs much like humans are susceptible to the development of calluses. But what activity is it, that can create these calluses on their elbows? Let’s dive into why they develop, how to treat the callus, and of course how to prevent them from developing in the first place.
What is a callus?
A callus is hardened and tough skin that is created by friction in a specific spot where the friction is happening over and over. It develops as a means of protection for the skin.
For humans, hands and feet are the #1 spot where calluses develop.
Dogs develop calluses for the exact same reason we do. Areas like their elbows, hips, and hind legs, are the most common spot for calluses in dogs. This is caused by constant pressure, friction or rubbing of those areas.
If you have ever noticed that a dog always lies on the ground in the exact same position for a long period of time. This action leaves their elbows, hips and hind legs exposed areas where friction can happen.
A larger dog is especially more likely to have calluses form on these areas. Just imagine the amount of pressure and weight that is put on them constantly. They push off to get from a laying down position up to a standing position. When they lay on their side, a hip or hind leg is also susceptible to having calluses develop. When we think of it that way, it isn’t hard to imagine why they can develop in these particular spots.
Yes, a dog has hair that covers these areas, but as we know when there is friction, hair easily wears off and leaves the skin or joint unprotected.
Temperature can also play a part in the development of calluses. When it is warmer outside, the heat, sweat and clammy conditions make the risk of calluses even more likely.
Why are calluses a big deal?
Although calluses for humans, generally isn’t that big of a deal, for dogs, they can be a more significant issue. Yes, a callus helps protect the bony area, but they can also become a more serious problem. For us, we just end up with a tough and thick lump on the area that goes away without too much effort.
With dogs, a callus for example on their elbow, can actually crack, bleed, and even cause significant pain. In severe situations, a liquid filled sac called a “Hygroma” can actually develop. The fluid that is inside the sac, can actually become infected, if left untreated.
So unlike humans, calluses in dogs are something that you want to make sure to watch closely for on your dog. Especially if you have a large or giant breed dog. The bigger the dog, the more impact or pressure that is put on their elbows, hips, and hind legs. A callus can very quickly become a serious issue with your dog if left untreated, so be aware.
Ways to prevent calluses
There are many ways that you can stop your dog from developing severe calluses. Larger dogs will develop calluses on high impact areas but making sure they don’t get out of control or too large is important. There are some things that you can do to help. Here is a list of some easy things that you can do:
- Ensure that your dog has a good dog bed to lay down on with padding
- Try to keep them laying for long periods of the time on hard surfaces
- Get them up and moving more
- Inspect your dog’s hips, elbows, and hind legs regularly
- Provide them with a raised or elevated bed much like a hammock
- In summer dogs look for cooler places to lay, so to stop them from laying on the cold hard floor, provide them with a cooling mat or bed
- Put down a blanket or mat on the ground outside if they are laying on hard surfaces
- Keep your dog from becoming overweight
Whether your dog is laying outside or inside, on the hard ground you need to try to entice them to lay on the softer and more padded spots that you have provided for them. You may even need to provide a treat or reward to get them to lay on these specific areas.
For my dog Fergus, a treat is the best way to get him to lay in his nice soft bed, rather than having him lay on the hard floor. We also use these spots as part of his in-house training. This has worked awesome for him. That way anytime I want him to go lay there, I just point to the spot or say go to your bed and he instantly goes to that spot.
By incorporating the bed, blanket, hammock, or whatever you have incorporated as a soft spot for them to lay in training, then they associate that spot as a happy and rewarding spot to lay. This will definitely aid in getting to lay where you want.
How to treat calluses?
Although preventing calluses is the goal, it isn’t a guarantee that our dogs won’t develop calluses even after all our efforts. My dog Fergus has already started to have just small spots on his elbows that if left alone, will develop into big time calluses.
Once a callus has started to develop, there are some ways to treat these calluses and hopefully stop them from becoming a much bigger issue. As we know with dogs, once they realize that they have an injury or sore, they often start chewing and scratching the area. This of course can make things so much worse. We need to make sure that we do what we can to keep them from doing this.
In order to treat your dog calluses, there are things like treating them with:
- Vaseline – Can be used as a great home remedy. Just simply apply the Vaseline to the area. Vaseline is a mix of wax and mineral oils that will help soften up the callus. It also traps the moisture in allowing for healing to happen.
- Vitamin E – As we know, Vitamin E cream is full of amazing ingredients that are super helpful in the healing process.
- Protective sleeve – If your dog has a callus that is rather large, or if they won’t leave it alone for you to treat, you can buy an elbow or leg sleeve. The sleeve can be used to cover the entire joint and allow it to heal and even offer extra protection, so that your dog can lay down with that friction happening.
- Dermoscent Dog Skin Balm – Using a dog skin balm that is made specifically for dogs dry and callus skin. This balm can be applied to the dry and hard callus anywhere on your dog. The balm offers 100% all-natural ingredients that will soften the callus or dry area and help keep the moisture locked in allowing the area to heal.
- Coconut Oil – Using coconut oil is another great way to help treat your dog’s calluses. Apply it directly to the area for a few minutes by rubbing it in. Coconut oil is an amazing option for treating calluses.
This is a list of some main ways that you can treat your dog’s calluses. You can try a few of them, to see which option works best for your dog.
Dogs that are larger breed dogs are almost guaranteed to develop calluses on their elbows, hips, or hind legs, so don’t be alarmed if you spot one. It doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong. Large dogs are just big, heavy, and unfortunately their bones protrude out. The friction is tough to avoid, but if you apply some of these solutions and preventative measure that I have mentioned you will at least keep them from becoming an issue that requires a Vet visit.
My dog has calluses. I know for me and my dog Fergus, I am adamant at checking his areas daily. I have purchased an orthopedic incredibly soft and comfy bed for him to lay on. When he goes outside, I make sure that he lies on a bed that I have purchased that is strictly for outside use only. I have had success applying Vaseline to his most dry spots and to avoid him licking it off, I rub it in for a long time. I then distract him, so that he doesn’t just lick it off right away.
Inside his kennel, I have also purchased an awesome Kong kennel mat that offers a comfy soft padding for him to lay on. So far, his spots are small and aren’t of any serious concern. I equally ensure he gets lots of exercise, eats healthy dog food and will continue to make sure he doesn’t become overweight. By doing all of these things, I am hopefully to avoid any large calluses from developing.
I hope that you have found my post informative and helpful. I would love to hear your experience with your own dog, so drop me a comment below.