Dog Elbow Callus Infection


An elbow callus is not uncommon in dogs.  However, if you notice that the elbow callus is bleeding, oozing, raw, or looks different than it typically does, it may be infected.  Any infection or illness on our canine companions can cause us to worry about their health and well-being.  I’m here to help you learn more about elbow calluses on dogs, signs of an elbow callus infection, and what you can do to help clear up the infection and the elbow callus.

dog elbow callus infection

Table of Contents

What is an elbow callus?

Elbow calluses are a type of dog skin condition.  A dog’s body (and our bodies too) form calluses to protect the skin against pressure or friction.  A callus is multiple layers of hard skin.  You’ve likely had a callus on your hands or feet at some point for this very reason.

Thus, a dog’s body forms an elbow callus to protect the tissue beneath their elbow joint.  The thick skin works to create a barrier over the elbow joint to offer it protection.

Are dog elbow calluses bad?  In most cases, a dog elbow callus doesn’t pose a real threat to the dog.  They generally aren’t painful, either.  However, some dogs may find their callus to be itchy, or it could make them uncomfortable.  Elbow calluses, even when not infected, also don’t look nice on a dog.

The real problem with elbow calluses comes when they are left untreated.  The skin on the callus gets poked, hit, and bumped every time the dog lays down.  This can eventually lead to an elbow callus infection.   

What is a Dog Elbow Callus Infection?

As I started sharing above, an elbow callus can become infected if it gets traumatized by hitting, bumping, or scraping too much.  The pressure on the callus can plug up the hair follicles and allow bacteria to enter the area.  This can cause the elbow callus to bleed or ooze.

Dogs often lick their wounds, which introduces more bacteria.  This can lead to the infection getting worse.

While most elbow calluses aren’t dangerous, that quickly changes when the callus becomes infected.  Treating a dog’s elbow callus right away.  The elbow callus infection can turn into pyoderma, which is a type of deep skin infection.  Anaerobic bacteria, which are harder to get rid of than other types of bacteria, are present in a pyoderma infection.

If the infection progresses this far, it will be much more difficult to treat.  The healing process will also take longer.  This is why you’ll want to work to minimize your dog’s elbow callus and bring them to the vet at the first sign of an infection.

How do I treat my dogs swollen elbow?

Are some breeds more likely to get an elbow callus?

Yes, some breeds are more likely to get elbow calluses than other breeds.  There are a few different factors that may make a dog more likely to develop an elbow callus, particularly one that gets more traumatized and becomes infected.  These factors include:

  • Obesity or larger body size
  • Lying on harder surfaces, rather than plush beds/blankets
  • Living in a dry environment and dealing with very dry skin
  • Inflamed skin caused by allergies
  • Arthritis, neurological diseases, or other conditions that cause decreased mobility
  • Unhealthy or dry skin caused by some other condition

When to Bring Your Dog to the Vet

If you’re asking “how do you treat callus pyoderma,” the best course of action is to bring your dog to the vet.  If the elbow callus has become infected and progressed to a pyoderma infection, your dog will need an antibiotic.  Your dog’s vet will likely need to take a tissue sample and run a bacterial culture to determine the necessary treatment.

Can a Vet Suture an Infected Elbow Callus?

You may be wondering whether your dog’s vet will suture their infected elbow callus to help it heal more quickly.  However, while this approach may sound good in theory, it isn’t the best option.  Dogs place too much pressure on their elbows, so the sutures will almost certainly break, leaving the infected area more exposed and making it take longer to heal.

corgi lying down

Hygroma vs Callus

If you’ve heard of an elbow hygroma, you may be wondering whether it is the same thing as an elbow callus.  Hygromas and calluses are actually two different things.  Hygromas are cysts filled with fluid.  Like elbow calluses, they can also develop an infection or inflammation when faced with trauma.  

Hygromas can also cause a dog more discomfort than an elbow callus because they can get in their way when they try to lay down and rest.  Spotting a hygroma and helping it heal before it becomes infected is important.  Once infected, your vet may not want to try to remove the hygroma due to the higher risks of a negative outcome.

How long does it take for a dog’s elbow hygroma to heal?  The exact time it will take your dog’s hygroma to heal will vary based on different factors.  If the hygroma isn’t infected, it won’t require invasive treatments.  Make sure your dog has a soft bed to sleep on and try to encourage them to lay on softer surfaces instead of the floor.  This will help the hygroma heal.  If your dog is stubborn and insists on sleeping on a hard surface, look into getting elbow pads for them to wear.

How long does an infected elbow callus take to heal?

The length of time it will take for an elbow callus infection to heal will vary based on how deep and severe the infection is.  With proper treatment, more superficial infections should heal within about two weeks.

If the infection is deeper, expect the recovery period to last longer.  It is likely that your dog will need to continue their oral antibiotics for multiple weeks or even months.

How to Treat an Elbow Calluses and Elbow Callus Infections

How do you treat calluses on a dog’s elbow?  The best treatment method will vary depending on whether the callus is infected or not.  

If your dog has an infection, the vet will likely need to do a culture of the wound to find out which type of bacteria is present.  This will allow him to prescribe the most effective antibiotic to get rid of the bacteria.

So, how do I treat my dogs swollen elbow?  Infected elbow calluses may also require topical disinfectants, elbow pad use, and/or an Elizabethan collar to let the tissue heal without your dog licking it.

If your dog’s callus isn’t infected, there are a few things you can do to treat it and keep it from becoming infected.  If you’re asking, “what can I put on my dogs calluses,” there are special moisturizers, butters, creams, and sprays available.  These products soften calluses and keep them from cracking.

This video shares some tips to help you treat your dog’s elbow callus.

Preventing Elbow Calluses

If you want to prevent your dog from getting elbow calluses, read through the suggestions below.  Many of these suggestions can also help with softening the existing elbow calluses your dog has.  In some cases, they may even help remove the callus over time.

Dog Elbow Butter

Like I mentioned above, you can find elbow butter and other moisturizers specifically designed for dog’s elbows.  These products keep the callus from drying out, which makes it less likely that the callus will crack, bleed, or become infected. 

The Blissful Dog Elbow Butter Moisturizes Your Dog's Elbow Calluses - Dog Balm, 2.25 Ounce
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Coconut Oil

As an alternative to dog elbow butter, you can also consider using coconut oil.  Coconut oil is safe for pets, words as an antibacterial, and can also help to keep the elbow callus moisturized.  However, keep in mind that coconut oil is not as thick as elbow butter for dogs.

How do you treat callus pyoderma?

Increased Humidity in Home

Increasing the humidity in the rooms where your dog spends most of their time can also help keep their elbow callus from drying out and cracking.  Look for a few humidifiers that you can use, particularly during the colder and drier months.

Soft and Plush Dog Bed

Laying on a soft bed, rather than the hard floor, can protect a dog’s elbow callus and keep it from getting scratched or traumatized in some other way.  Plus, your dog is likely to feel more comfortable and supported in a bed than they would on the floor.

Washable Large Dog Bed,Dog beds for Medium Dogs Plush Soft Pet Carrier Pad,Anti-Slip Dog Bed Mat for Large Medium Small Dogs and Cats,Fluffy Comfy Dog Kennel Pad.
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Dog Elbow Pads

Some dogs simply prefer laying on the floor.  If this is the case with your dog, look for a part of dog elbow pads to protect their callus from injury.

Miller Eclipse Dog Reinforced Elbow Pads Elastic Hygroma Relief Pressure Sore Cushions Flexible Straps Medium Dog Large Dog Soft Stretchy Material
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Elbow Callus Infections in Dogs

An elbow callus infection in your dog can look pretty scary.  If you suspect an infection, bring your dog to the vet right away for treatment.  If your dog has an elbow callus that isn’t infected, use some of the strategies shared above to help remove the callus and prevent future calluses from forming.

FAQs about Dog Elbow Callus Infection

Can I put coconut oil on my dog’s elbows?

Yes, you can put coconut oil on a dog’s elbows.  Coconut oil is safe for dogs and also offers some antibacterial properties.  However, keep in mind that coconut oil is thinner than other products designed for use on dog elbow calluses, so it may not be quite as effective.