How to Care for Calluses

If your dog has a callus on an elbow, you may be wondering how to take care of it and help it go away. Here are 4 great tips that will help you learn how to care for calluses and help your dog feel more comfortable.

Ditch Hard Surfaces

Make sure that your dog is not laying down on hard surfaces. A dog that continues to lay down on hard surfaces will continue to have trauma to that area of the skin which caused the callus to form in the first place. One of the best ways to do this is to provide a comfortable resting surface and cushioned areas for your dog to lay down on. Big Barker beds are awesome for this because they cushion the dogs with 7” of supportive foam. Time away from hard surfaces allows the skin to start healing as if to say, “Oh, okay, I’m not squished on this hard surface. Now, I can start to heal!”



The second thing to do is only if the callus is not infected. Which means it’s not red, not painful, not hot, not angry – it’s just a normal callus with hard gray skin. In the case of a normal callus, you’ll want to apply lotion to it. Before you do, make sure the callus is nice and clean by washing it with a gentle soap. Then, you’re going to want to apply lotion several times a day. There are so many effective hydrating emollients that can improve calluses including coconut oil, shea butter and Bag Balm. Any of these will give that callus some extra hydration and provide a space for that skin to start to heal.


Seek Medical Attention

If the callus is infected or if it’s really hard or causing your dog pain, talk to your veterinarian about how to care for calluses. Sometimes low levels of steroid ointments or a steroid plus antibiotic ointments can really help calluses start to get out of the inflammatory phase and back into a healing phase. But again, if you’re going to do steroid ointments, always do it under the supervision of your local veterinarian.


Manage Your Dog’s Weight

The next thing you need to do is make sure your dog is at a healthy weight because dogs that are overweight or obese are at higher risk of developing calluses. So how do you know? Well, first talk to your veterinarian to see if your dog is at a healthy weight. You can also check on your own at home using what I call the ‘hand test’. Start by feeling your dog’s ribs, which are right behind your dog’s front legs. From the hand test, you can usually draw one of three conclusions:

  1. Do their ribs feel like the back of your hand? Great – your dog’s likely at a good weight.
  2. If your dog’s ribs feel and look like the palm of your hand, your dog’s probably too heavy.
  3. If they feel or look like your knuckles, your dog is probably too thin.


Making sure that your dog is at a healthy weight makes them less likely to form those calluses.

To learn more about hygromas, check out Dr. Sarah’s Definitive Hygroma Guide


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