Dogs can become infected with a variety of skin disorders affecting their elbows. While such conditions are not life threatening, they can cause the dog pain, itchiness and discomfort. Treating such a condition can be as simple as giving your dog a soft bed to sleep on. Other cases may require topical medication, an oral supplement or medicated dip.
Elbow calluses are bald, circular, dry and crusty spots over the elbows that can ulcerate and crack, causing bleeding and discomfort, according to the Dog Channel website. These calluses result from the irritation from the dog's elbows repeatedly hitting the ground as he lies down on hard surfaces, such as wood or concrete. Elbow calluses are common in large breeds, such as great Danes and Akitas. To treat, apply aloe vera or petroleum jelly over the callus and give your dog a soft bed to sleep on.
Pyoderma is a pussy bacterial infection of the skin, commonly affecting the elbows and hocks, as well as any "folds" on the dog's body, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual website. Symptoms include painful, crusty, smelly and bloody skin areas. Vets usually treat pyoderma with antibiotics for 21 to 30 days, with recurrent conditions requiring eight to 12 weeks of treatment.
Sarcoptic mange is caused by microscopic mites invading a dog's skin, resulting in hair loss and itching, particularly on the dog's elbows, ears, armpits, hocks, chest and belly, says the Pet Education website. The dog's skin becomes even further irritated by the resultant scratching, producing sores and infections. Veterinarians treat sarcoptic mange by clipping the dog's fur, followed by medicated shampooing and dipping. Vets will usually dip a dog once every two weeks, for two to three cycles.
Unlike sarcoptic mange, demodectic mange is not itchy, though it can progress over the entire body, including the elbows. Demodectic mites live on every area of the dog's body, usually without issue, according to the Pet Education website. Skin irritations from these mites occur on dogs with compromised immune systems. As a result, the dog loses hair over the affected areas and sports crusty red skin that can also appear moist or greasy. Mange occurring in young puppies will most likely heal as the puppy develops a stronger immune system. Vets usually treat older dogs, however, with between four and 14 medicated dips two weeks apart, until there are no more mites for two consecutive treatments.
Zinc Responsive Dermatosis
Zinc responsive dermatosis results either from a dog's inability to absorb the zinc that he ingests during meals or from a zinc-deficient diet, according to the Pet Education site. This disease commonly affects Arctic breeds, such as huskies and malamutes. Hair loss and crusty skin around the dog's legs, head and face characterise this skin disease. Puppies with zinc responsive dermatosis may also be sluggish, bone-thin and prone to infection. Typical treatment involves administering zinc supplements.