Dog Elbow Calluses

An elbow callus is a patch of thickened skin that forms on your dog’s elbows due to prolonged pressure. These calluses can also form on your dog’s hips and along the sides of your dog’s legs. Far from only being an eyesore, elbow calluses can become sites of infection when the skin cracks. As such, when you see them, you need to intervene right away.

Why Do Dogs Get Elbow Calluses?

Have you ever had a foot callus from shoes that didn’t fit quite right? Dog elbow calluses form in the same way. When there is frequent pressure on your dog’s elbows, the protective ulna bone starts to poke into the skin, resulting in the formation of the callus.

Dogs that are constantly jumping up and down or slumping down on hard surfaces will be more prone to elbow calluses. Since bigger dogs will generally have more pressure on their elbows due to their weight, they are also more prone to elbow calluses than smaller dogs.

Dogs with shorter coats, such as mastiffs, will also be more prone to elbow calluses, because they have less cushioning on their skin. A heavier coat eases the pressure on the elbows, meaning that long-coated breeds have better protection against elbow calluses.

The more pressure is applied to the skin on the elbows by the protruding ulna bone, the more the skin starts to thicken. This thickening is what ultimately becomes the callus.

Caring for a Dog with an Elbow Callus

Early intervention when your dog develops an elbow callus is important in order to stop the callus from getting worse, but you don’t need to rush to the vet, especially if the callus is not open or ulcerated. Here are some guidelines for caring for a dog with elbow calluses.

  • Provide soft and cushy sitting and sleeping beds for your dog. Ideally, have them in multiple locations where your dog likes to hang out. Prompt them to sit on these beds rather than on the hard floor.
  • Ensure that you keep the elbow callus clean to avoid infection.
  • Apply elbow butter on the callus.
  • If your dog is overweight, the excess weight exerts more pressure on the elbows. Helping your dog lose weight will help in avoiding elbow calluses.
  • If the elbow callus breaks, becomes infected, or starts to bleed, consult your vet immediately.

How To Apply Elbow Butter

Elbow butter provides relief and helps the callus to heal. Elbow calluses will be tight and may be painful for your dog, so applying elbow butter to the affected area is important.

  1. 1
    Clean the callus before applying the butter
  2. 2
    For better absorption into the skin, it helps if the elbow butter is slightly warm. You can warm it by putting it in your pocket for a while before application.
  3. 3
    Take a dab of the elbow butter on your finger and spread it evenly over the elbow callus until the entire callus is coated with the butter.
  4. 4
    The elbow butter will take about ten minutes to be absorbed into the skin, so keep your dog off their elbows by walking them or feeding them.
  5. 5
    It is recommended that you apply the elbow butter at least twice a day for 3 days until you see improvement in the elbow callus.
  6. 6
    If the elbow callus does not improve within this time, schedule an appointment with your vet for further investigation.

Will the Hair Grow Back?

Once the elbow callus heals, the hair on your dog’s elbows will gradually start to grow back. However, this will depend on how damaged the hair follicles were. In some cases, if the treatment was not done early enough, the hair may not grow back.

Also remember that after the callus heals, your dog can get it again by putting pressure on the elbows and by lying on hard surfaces. Encourage your dog to sleep and sit on cushy dog pillows or beds to avoid elbow calluses from becoming a recurrent problem.

When to Take Your Dog to The Vet

As long as the callus remains superficial, elbow calluses can be taken care of at home. However, you need to go to the vet if you notice any of the following symptoms.

  • The elbow callus starts to bleed.
  • When your dog develops hygromas, which are soft, fluid-filled sacs at the friction points on the elbow. These need to be medically drained by a vet.
  • If the elbow callus is open, the risk of infection is high and you need to see the vet before the callus becomes an open sore.


An elbow callus is not life-threatening, but it can be painful and uncomfortable for your dog. Early intervention is important to ensure a speedy recovery. Always check your dog’s elbows for any signs of hair thinning and callus formation so that you can take the necessary steps to avoid infections and permanent hair loss.


Hello, I'm Shelly! I write about all things dogs. I'm a proud mother of 3. So I guess my official title is fulltime mother, part-time dog blogger. Look around and if you have any questions reach out to me