Treatment for elbow sores on a dog

Updated November 21, 2016

Treatment for dog elbow sores varies, depending upon the precise cause of the sore. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed by the vet, as are anti-fungal medications and painkillers to relieve discomfort. Healing requires good grooming by the pet owner, but because the risk for infection is high, treatment should be done under the supervision of a vet.


Treatment depends upon the type of elbow sore the dog is exhibiting. Examples of common dog sores include acute moist dermatitis, scabies, fungal infections and allergies. Underlying internal diseases may also cause secondary symptoms in the form of elbow sores. Pressure sores, a condition caused by excessive pressure centred on one area of the body, are also common on dog elbows, particularly among disabled dogs.


Keep the dog free of fleas and mites to prevent dermatitis. Also keep the dog well-groomed and clean. Disabled dogs that cannot move on their own need to be moved frequently so that they do not develop pressure sores. If a pressure wound has already developed, you must make sure the dog does not continue to lie on that sore.

Cleaning the wound

Dog elbow sores must be clean for the healing process to begin. Remove the surrounding hair and wash the wound with soap and water. You can also use a saltwater solution to cleanse the wound, which will remove any fluids.


Antibiotics may come in pill form from the vet, but they are likely to come in ointment form to be administered directly to the wound itself. The antibiotic ointment should be applied once the wound has been cleaned. After applying the ointment, wrap the wound in gauze or another type of sterile bandage. In addition to antibiotics, the vet may prescribe pain killers, anti-fungal medications and anti-inflammatory medication.


The dog will want to lick the wound, which will only aggravate it further and cause possible infection. Additionally, many antibiotic ointments are toxic if ingested. To prevent licking or biting at the wound, pet owners often use a muzzle on their dog during the healing period. An alternative to muzzles are head collars that form a protective barrier and prevent the dog from licking or biting any part of their body.


Even with treatment, elbow sores can become infected. Indications that the wound is infected include the development of pus, smells, swelling, or tenderness around the wound, and redness and sensitivity around the sore. Rapid heartbeats, general weakness and fever or chills also indicate an infection. If your dog exhibits any of these signs, you should take him to the vet immediately.

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About the Author

Since 1994 Carrie Glossmanz has been writing freelance articles for publications such as "Animal Fair," "Delicious Living" and "Diabetes Health." Glossmanz is a Registered Dietitian and earned her Master of Science in nutritional sciences with an emphasis on clinical nutrition from the University of Kentucky.