Elbow sores on a dog

Updated July 05, 2018

A common problem in older dogs is the development of pressure sores on the elbows.These often occur as your dog becomes less active coupled with lying on hard surfaces such as cement or tile. Treating pressure sores as they develop and preventing more from developing can help prevent dangerous infections from ingrown hairs.


Pressure sores develop as your dog loses muscle mass and begins to place more weight upon the joints when lying down for longer periods of time. Pressure sores may start at first as a lump you feel just under the skin but may develop into bleeding lesions or large, tumour-like lumps over the elbow. Early detection helps treatment effectiveness by preventing larger infections or reduced mobility.


The first thing to do with pressure sores is to determine whether or not there is an infection. If the skin is broken with bleeding, pus or scabs, your veterinarian may prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic or both. Regardless of how bad the pressure sores are, it is imperative to adjust where or on what your dog is lying. Provide pillows or padding in favourite sleeping areas such as hard kitchen or patio floors. Placing doughnut-like bandages over the sores relieves pressure and allows infection to heal.


Ignoring the early symptoms and signs of pressure sores may create a bigger problem for your dog. As the pressure sore grows, the joint becomes less mobile and your dog will end up lying down even more. This only adds to the pressure on the joint, exacerbating the problem. If the skin becomes dry or cracked, ingrown hairs may develop and become infected. Be aware that pressure sores may also develop on the hips and knee joints.


Disabled dogs and older arthritic dogs are highly susceptible to pressure sores. As your dog becomes less active, there is a higher chance of developing pressure sores. This condition is more common in larger dogs than smaller dogs, where more weight is sitting on the joints. However, small dogs may still develop sores, lesions or bumps.


As your dog ages, he may develop rough callus areas over his elbows. Use a moisturising gel to keep these exposed skin areas less susceptible to cracking and breaking. You should also provide your pet with a comfortable bed or dog hammock. As a dogs gets older, he may be less likely to jump on a sofa to sleep. In addition, many dogs seek the coolness of cement or tile. A hammock will help keep your dog cool but reduces the pressure on joints. Regularly check your dog for sensitivity or abnormalities on his elbows. Talk to your vet about any concerns you may have.

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About the Author

With more than 15 years of professional writing experience, Kimberlee finds it fun to take technical mumbo-jumbo and make it fun! Her first career was in financial services and insurance.