Calluses on their own aren’t a cause for concern but if they ever swell or become ulcerated and infected you will definitely need to get this treated by a vet.
Calluses are caused by repeated trauma and friction to an area (very often caused by the romps on the hard floors in your house) but how can we identify whether a trip to the vet is needed?
Are They Dangerous?
Most elbow calluses are due to friction and do nothing but harden the skin, providing protection to the dog. Occasionally calluses can swell, filling with liquid that needs to be drained to avoid any kind of infection. Unfortunately calluses that are left without any kind of lubrication can ulcerate and again become infected posing some real risks should this go untreated.
Who Gets Calluses?
You don’t see many small dogs with elbow calluses and there's a reason for this. Calluses, as we have mentioned, are caused by friction at the elbows so there will be greater friction the heavier the dog meaning that larger dogs are much more likely to develop calluses.
If you’ve got a long-haired big boy then luckily their fur will offer some resistance but short-haired dogs do not fare so well.
You may have the comfiest, most luxurious pet bed around but a hard floor is always going to be cooler in hot temperatures making it far more attractive to sleep on in the hotter months. Large, heavy, short-haired dogs in hot temperatures are very likely to develop elbow calluses.
Hygromas, a callus that becomes fluid-filled thanks to friction at the elbows, should be drained at the vet. This is a simple and common procedure during which a needle is inserted into the callus and the liquid is allowed to drain - just as you’d imagine!
Pyoderma occurs when your dog itches and chews their callus to the point of breaking the skin, this is an open invitation to the common Staphylococcus bacteria to invade the open wound. This results in a condition known as callus pyoderma which should be treated by a vet immediately.
The simplest way to remedy a callus is with some ointment to soften the skin, prevent it from breaking and potentially have some hair regrowth to the area. It isn’t guaranteed and oftentimes moistening the callus does nothing but prevent it from worsening.
If your dog won’t let you regularly massage ointment onto the callus then an elbow sleeve might be a good option. This offers the callus and other elbows, should you fear the development on all limbs, some protection against the cold hard floor.
If you can convince your dog to rest their heads on a soft bed this goes a long way in reducing almost all friction at your pet’s elbow. They aren’t the most attractive options in the heat of the day
It is an option to surgically remove the callus although this is not generally recommended by any vet as a surgery can be more detrimental than a well managed callus.
Calluses are a common affliction and not a cause for concern should you manage them well by using ointment or elbow sleeves! A soft bed is a great preventative option but sometimes you just can’t convince a hot dog to take up residence in them.