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Though perhaps a little unsightly, elbow calluses are rarely serious and are fairly common, particularly in large breed dogs. This is a very common condition in Labrador Retrievers, as well as other large adult dogs such as Great Danes.
Just what are calluses? They are defined as an area of thickened or hardened skin that generally develops where there is little muscle or fat to separate his skin from the bone. Calluses often appear as gray, balding spots and are most commonly found around the elbow.
Calluses are caused by the repeated contact your dog's elbow makes with the floor, getting up or lying down, and is most commonly associated with dogs who sleep on a hard surface such as tile, hardwood or concrete.
Though there are a number of skin conditioners on the market, most dogs have a tendency to lick the conditioner off before it has a chance to be effective. One way to avoid this is to provide him with a good distraction—a long walk or play toy—shortly after applying. Also, make sure to work the conditioner into the skin thoroughly.
One of the best ways to prevent elbow calluses however is to provide your dog with a well cushioned sleeping surface such as a dog bed, cushion or folded blanket. This will cushion the impact on his elbows and help keep calluses from developing.
Most often, elbow calluses are minor annoyances. However, in large- or giant-breed dogs, elbow calluses could be a result of a serious condition called Elbow Hygroma. Be sure to consult your veterinarian if you see calluses developing. By taking simple precautions, you and your dog can get past those rough spots in no time.
Breeds that are most often seen with elbow calluses are Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and Great Danes-most in their older years. In general, any short coated large breed can easily get elbow calluses.