Imagine waking up to find your beloved dog in distress with its elbow bleeding and raw. Such a sight can leave you feeling rather helpless and very concerned.
Bleeding elbows in dogs are more common than you might think but what could have caused it?
It is common for dogs to develop elbow calluses over time. These calluses may become extremely dry and eventually crack. When this occurs, the callus on the dog’s elbow could begin to bleed. Other causes such as Hygroma, Pyoderma, or skin dermatitis may contribute to this issue.
In this article, we’ll look into the possible reasons behind your dog’s elbow bleeding and provide practical solutions to help you care for the dog.
What Are Our Elbows For?
If you were to take a look at your own elbow, you would notice that the skin in that area tends to be thicker and rougher. This is due to the amount of wear and tear that we place on our elbows.
The same thing happens to our dogs when they are puppies all the way to their senior years. Your dog places a lot of its weight on its elbow when it is trying to lie down or get up onto its feet.
Why Does My Dog Have Wounds On Its Elbow?
Based on what I’ve seen, the main cause of bleeding from a dog’s elbow is due to a dog’s elbow callus. If you were to touch your dog’s elbow, it does feel rather boney.
Repeated pressure and abrasion in this area will cause calluses to form.
Over time, the calluses will get very dry, turn into thickened skin and start to crack.
Once the dog’s skin has cracked, it will start to bleed and become infected. The hair follicles around the dog’s elbow can also become infected which can cause sores to develop.
Although elbow calluses are common on many dogs, large dog breeds or overweight dogs with short hair tend to develop calluses a lot easier due to their size.
How To Treat Dog Elbow Calluses?
The good news for dog owners is that treating your dog’s raw and bleeding elbows can be done with a few recommended home remedies. Here are a few methods that you can try.
Use Soft Bedding
An elbow callus usually comes about when your dog likes sleeping on a hard surface. And honestly, most dogs prefer to do that especially when the weather is warm.
One way from preventing your dog’s elbow calluses from worsening is to get it used to lying on a soft bed or softer material.
The best time to start this is when your dog is still a puppy. Even if you have an older dog, all is not lost.
You can still teach an old dog new tricks but it takes more time and patience.
Keep Your Dog’s Elbows Moist
There is a wise old saying which goes “If it’s wet, keep it dry. If it’s dry, keep it moist”. There is a lot of truth in these few words.
One reason why your dog’s elbow calluses have started to bleed is due to the dog’s skin being too dry. Just like how your lips will start to crack and bleed during the winter months.
One way to prevent the calluses from drying up and bleeding is to keep them well moisturized. That being said, don’t just start rubbing your own body lotion on your dog’s elbow.
There are a few things that you can safely use to rub on your dog’s elbow calluses.
- Coconut oil
- Vitamin E oil
- Aloe vera
When you should do is take a little of the above and rub it gently into your dog’s elbow until it is fully absorbed.
This also prevents your dog from trying to lick it off, especially with coconut oil which they love the taste of. There are some pet owners that use coconut oil to treat their dog’s ear infections.
I’ve had the best results with Vitamin E oil from the local pharmacy. I prefer to get it in a bottle instead of capsule form for ease of use.
The anti-inflammatory properties of Vitamin E help to soothe irritated and dry skin on your dog.
Some dog owners swear by Vaseline but I find that it leaves oily spots all over the house.
If your dog has pretty bad calluses, I would suggest moisturizing the elbows daily until things start to look better. You can do it a few times a week after that.
Keeping your dog’s elbow moist prevents it from bleeding and getting infected.
I’ve seen dogs with such bad elbow calluses that I could almost see the bone underneath.
Use A Humidifier
Consider using a humidifier at home to keep the air moist. If the air gets too dry, it can start to really dry up your dog’s skin and cause it to crack up.
The increased moisture in the air will help keep your dog’s skin well-hydrated.
Don’t Let Your Dog Get Fat
There are far too many overweight dogs in the USA alone. In fact, more than 50% of domesticated dogs are overweight.
Being overweight puts a lot of stress and strain on your dog’s elbow making it easier for calluses to form.
If your dog is getting to pudgy around the edges, you need to start putting your dog on a diet. Stop feeding your dog food high in sugar and carbs like dry food or kibbles.
Dogs do better on a diet that is high in animal protein like a canned food diet or raw meat diet.
Will Dog Elbow Calluses Go Away?
Once the dog’s elbow callus has formed, it won’t be easy for it to go away.
But with constant care and moisturizing balm, you can prevent the calluses from getting infected.
You can expect to see improvements in your dog’s elbow after 2 weeks if you make sure to moisturize them on a daily basis.
For calluses that have become deeply infected, your dog might have to start taking antibiotics to clear the infection before the wound can start to heal properly.
For more severe cases, minor surgery will have to be done to drain out the abscess and dress the wound.
The vet might even have your dog put on a cone to prevent it from licking the area and making it worse.
Many dogs find the cone a real pain in the butt. Thankfully there are other less cumbersome options for your dog.
Elbow Hygroma In Dogs
Elbow calluses aren’t the only thing that can cause your dog’s elbow to bleed. Another common problem in dogs is called Hygroma.
A hygroma is a fluid-filled sac that tends to grow at the boney areas of your dog like its elbows and knees.
Hygromas aren’t painful for dogs but in more serious cases, these growths can become infected.
The way to spot a hygroma on your dog is to look for a fluid-filled pocket that is growing out of your dog’s skin. They are round in shape and soft to the touch.
If left untreated, hygromas can start to harden and become scabby.
Elbow Hygromas are more common in larger and older dogs. Too much pressure on your dog’s elbows caused the tissue in the area to become inflamed over time.
How Do You Treat An Elbow Hygroma On A Dog?
To confirm that the growth on your dog’s elbow is a hygroma, you will need to get it examined by the vet.
For mild cases, getting your dog to rest on softer bedding or using elbow pads can help prevent the hygroma from worsening.
These hygromas can heal on their own after a few weeks.
For severe hygromas, the vet might use a needle to drain out the excess fluid.
Antibiotics might be given to dogs who have a hygroma that is infected.
A pyoderma literally means ‘pus in the skin’ and this condition is usually caused by a bacterial infection.
Pyodermas can occur in areas of your dog that are warm and moist like the gums, neck folds, armpits, etc.
It can also happen at pressure points like your dog’s elbows due to repeated wear and tear.
The common signs of pyoderma include:
- Scaly skin
- Hair loss
- Blood and pus
Given that the symptoms of pyoderma are very similar to a badly infected callus, the vet will need to do a bacterial culture to make an accurate diagnosis.
To get rid of the pyoderma, your dog will need to be on antibiotics. A topical cleaning solution and medicated shampoo might also be prescribed for your dog.
When To See The Vet For My Dog’s Elbow?
If your dog’s elbows have started to bleed and show signs of an infection (pus), I would highly recommend that you take your dog to the vet to get it treated.
Elbow calluses aren’t considered a serious medical problem but if left untreated, they can become chronic and start to affect your dog’s mobility.
It is always good practice to take a look at your dog’s elbow every now and then to ensure that they are in good condition. Dog owners with large or older dogs need to pay more attention to these areas.
The best way to keep your dog’s elbows in good shape is to start keeping them well moisturized and away from hard surfaces.