If you have noticed a change in the skin on your dog’s elbow lately, it may or may not be something you need to worry about.
The best person to diagnose any health issue for you dog is a vet, but there may be some signs you might be able to recognise that might suggest exactly what is going on on your dog’s elbow.
In this guide, we run through 4 types of dog elbow skin growths & conditions, with explanations of each and how serious they might be + how they might be best managed and treated.
Let’s check them out!
(NOTE: this is a general informational and educational guide only. It is not professional advice. See a vet or qualified expert for professional advice).
4 Types Of Dog Elbow Skin Growths & Conditions To Be Aware Of
1) Dog Elbow Calluses
A dog elbow callus is usually an ugly looking rough and dry layer of skin growth over your dog’s elbow.
It is usually caused by rubbing of another surface on the dog’s skin, which in turn causes the harder rough callused skin to grow as protection over the soft skin.
Dog’s that lay on their fronts might develop calluses lower on the elbow, whilst dog’s that lay on their side might develop a callus on the side or upper part of the elbow – both as a result of rubbing their elbows on the ground.
A callus is usually not cause for concern by itself. But, if it gets cracked or split, it can ulcerate, bleed and get infected – in which case it can me a more serious problem that a vet might need to look at.
For regular calluses, some owners choose to use a dog elbow callus cream, dog elbow callus butter or even coconut oil – which can add moisture and minerals to the skin, and soften it.
Dog elbow pads and making sure your dog is sleeping on a soft surface are also other options that owners explore.
2) Dog Elbow Pyoderma
Pyoderma is a bacterial infection of your dog’s skin.
It usually looks like excessively scaly skin with hairs poking through it (so it can look like a callus). Or, more serious infection might lead to blood or pus forming on and coming from the skin.
Pressure points, such as elbows and hocks, are prone to infections, possibly because of hair folicle irritation and rupture due to chronic repeated pressure (on hard surfaces like your floors for example).
But, bacteria can infect and scale the skin in a number of ways.
Because pyoderma is an infection, it is best diagnosed and treated by your dog’s vet. If you are not sure whether your dog has a callus or pyoderma, take them to a vet just to be safe.
Vets will usually prescribe antibiotics and maybe some type of medical skin shampoo or skin treatment for the pyoderma infection.
3) Dog Elbow Hygromas
Hygromas are swellings or sacs, that are essentially fluid filled capsules. The outside skin may look normal, or it may be rough and lose hair.
They are caused by repeated impact on the bony area of your dog’s elbow by another hard surface – usually your floor or whatever they are laying on.
Hydrogomas by themselves don’t pose a threat to a dog’s health, unless they split or become infected.
Preventing your dog’s elbow from further impact or trauma by providing a soft sleeping surface (orthopedic and thick soft dog beds work well), or using a soft dog elbow pad/sleeve, can help the elbow over time.
Surgery can sometimes be performed on the hygroma where placing a drain inside it (if the sac is large) allows the sac to drain over time.
Usually you won’t know whether a swelling/sac on your dog’s elbow is a hygroma or a tumor, so it’s best to see a vet with help in figuring out which one it is.
As a bit of a guide, hygroma sacs can be softer to touch (as they are usually filled with fluid), whereas a tumor might be harder and firmer.
4) Dog Elbow Skin Tumors & Cancer
There are two types main skin tumors to be aware of – benign, and malignant.
If you are concerned in any way that a tumor could be malignant, see a vet.
Benign tumors are not a major threat to the health of your dog and include things like warts, cysts and skin tags.
Malignant tumors on the other hand are a cause for worry and include cancerous or other types of potentially life threatening tumors.
A wart for example can be frozen off, whereas cancerous tumors will need tests, and usually chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Tumors usually look like lumps or growths, and are usually firmer to touch than fluid filled hygromas.
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