Calluses often form on the elbows of large dogs. Although the callus is unsightly, it is not usually serious. However, if not treated the callus may become sore and infected. Lucky, my aging dog, has had calluses for several years. This summer her left elbow became much worse. When I noticed her constant licking, I found that the skin had cracked and was bleeding. After overcoming several problems, we finally have healed her elbow callus.
Our Vet’s Recommendations
After reassuring us that our dog’s elbow callus was not infected, our vet advised that the dog must no longer lie on a hard surface. Pet Education recommends that your dog sleep on a cushion, as the callus will not heal as long as it is constantly irritated by pressure from a hard surface. That means that Lucky should only sleep on a soft cushioned surface. The vet gave us an ointment to apply, hoping to soften the skin and help it heal. In order to keep the ointment on the skin and not on the living room carpet, we needed to keep the area covered.
Our Problems With the Treatment
Our dog has a soft cushioned bed. She sleeps on the bare floor beside it. We live in the desert and she loves to lie on the hard sandy dirt or on the bare floor of the deck. We did apply the recommended ointment until it was gone. Within five minutes of application, she licked it off. In order to cover the area, we needed an extensive bandage with tape, which stuck to her hair. It only took her a few minutes to chew the bandage away. Her sore elbow callus continued to get worse.
I purchased a package of baby socks, a box of soft thick sterile pads, and a can of Bag Balm. After allowing her to inspect each, we massaged a generous amount of Bag Balm into the callused area. We then covered it with a sterile pad, cut to fit. I cut the toe off the baby sock and slid it up over her sore elbow. It worked. The Bag Balm did not sting or irritate her. The sock was not tight and did not bind or stick to her fur. She can lay on the hard floor or the dirt outside and her elbow is still padded. Over a few hours, it does slide down, so we need to pull it back up a few times a day. Lucky does not seem to mind it at all. She does not chew or lick at it. She wears her sock several hours each day. When we walk and when she plays, we take it off, an easy matter of sliding it down over her foot.
Within three days, the bleeding crack had healed. After a week, the callus was softer and hair began to reappear. It took several weeks for the callus to heal, and we still watch it. Callused elbows on a dog can become a serious problem. If the elbow becomes infected or does not heal within a few weeks, see your veterinarian.