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Black Patches on Your Dog's Elbows and Ears


Does your dog have black hard patches on it's elbows, hips, back legs or ears? Is there very little fur growing in these areas?

This generally happens as these are pressure points or pressure sores on your dog. These are the parts that take most of your dog's body weight when it's lying or sitting down. 

They are like calluses or hard skin and you tend to find them on dogs that lie on hard floors a lot such as tiles, concrete, wood etc. more so than those dogs that have carpet under their paws. The areas around the elbows, hips and ears may present as small dry patches of skin and over time when left untreated being to appear as black patches or calluses.

Think about the number of times your dog lies or sits down on hard surfaces, the elbows and hips are always taking the brunt of your dog's weight added to by the force of the flop of your dog onto the floor.

The black calluses start out as dry skin that begins to harden and thicken over time, if left untreated. On the whole they're not detrimental to your dog's health but they can begin to cause long term problems if they're not dealt with at an early stage or if you ignore them altogether. 

One of the main issues you'll have is that they can begin to restrict your dog's movements. The skin around their elbows no longer has the elasticity needed to be flexible for the joints to have full range of movement. You find that dogs with really formed black calluses struggle to get into and out of certain positions as these dry patches can be sore areas. Think of it abit like you having dry hands that never get moisturised, over time they become harden and sore and you'll struggle to open up your fingers properly, to have the full range of movement as the skin can't stretch to where it needs to go to accommodate the movement.

Also that hard skin can begin to crack, it can be affected by changes in climate, can become infected with bacteria, bleed, ulcerate or form cysts leading to further problems. It can also become itchy to the point that your dog starts biting the area to help relieve the itch but long term makes the areas worse.

Why Do Dogs Get Black/Sore Patches on Their Elbows, Hips and Ears? 

Dog's most prone to calluses are generally those dog's that are overweight or big and heavy breeds, those that tend to be susceptible to skin problems and shorter haired coated dogs. 

It's not to say that your big hairy pouch or your small chihuahua won't get them but the black patches tend to be more common on dogs like labradors, bull mastiffs or dogs that spend a lot of time on hard surfaces irrespective of the breed.

Can You Get Rid of The Black Hard Skin? 

You can you get rid of the severe dry patches if you start treating them and continue to treat them. 

If it's been years and you're only now starting to treat the hard black patches that have developed, then it's unlikely you'll ever get the skin to look normal again but that shouldn't be your objective. Your goal should be to soften the skin with the aim of preventing any cracking and infection, help increase the range of movement for you beautiful dog's elbows and hips and prevent them worsening.

In some cases with continued on-going treatment you may see a significant improvement in the black patches and may see them reduce in size.

It's unlikely the fur will grow back in these areas if the black calluses persist. If it's just the hard dry skin you're treating then there is a good possibility that the fur will grow back in the affected areas once the dryness has cleared up. However, the regrowth of the fur will also depend on your dog's age, health, diet and if they continue to sleep on hard surfaces. But remember you're aim is to keep the patches soft and prevent other issues developing.

Natural Remedies for Your Dog's Black Calluses 

Any of these natural remedies are good as the oils all offer antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. But these properties are only as good as the quality of the oil. 

The cheaper the oil the more likely the oil has no healing properties. It is essential for your dog's health you avoid all refined and "neutral" oils.

Make sure any oil is thoroughly massaged into the areas as you want to get into all the crevices and help reduce the hardness and calluses.

  • Coconut oil. It's great to apply as it's naturally antifungal and antibacterial. Your dog will no doubt lick it off but try to prevent that for at least 5 minutes whilst the oil has time to penetrate the hard skin. Also make sure you buy the 100% pure coconut oil that has the meat in it, not neutral. Coconut oil that is not virgin or 100% pure i.e. has the taste and smell of coconuts, has none of the benefits of the oil as any processes used to make the oil odorless and tasteless also strips out all the super powers of coconut oil. Avoid using "refined coconut oil" altogether. This has no health benefit to your pet and in fact can be potentially toxic. Refined coconut oil should never be applied topically or given to your pets. Equally, if your dog it going to lick the oil after application, make sure it's something that is nutritionally beneficial as well.

  • Olive oil. A good quality virgin olive oil works as well as coconut oil to help moisten up the dry patches. This works well on the dry skin before it develops into calluses. 

  • Almond oil. Another great choice if it's pure edible almond oil and not the massage oil variety. 

  • Avocado oil. Another great choice if it's pure edible avocado oil and not an adulterated oil.

  • Shea butter. Make sure this is pure shea butter/paste and preferably organic. The real pure butter or paste is what the beauty industry raves about as it contains the benefits of the nuts for their fatty acids, minerals and vitamins that help revitalise skin. But again you don't want this paste mixed with anything else, it has to be pure or you're losing the benefits of the nuts natural healing properties. 

  • Vaseline. Also works well for really hard stubborn patches and can make a great indent into moisturizing the area.

Depending on the severity of the patches you want to try the following:

For normal dry patches apply for 3 to 5 days to begin to see results. If you start to see a reduction in the hardness and redness then continue applying for a few more days. Then ideally you want to keep on top of the situation by checking weekly or fortnightly and re-applying the oil as the skin starts to show signs of redness and hardening.

For the real hard black patches apply the oil daily for a month, to see how you get on and to see the changes in the patches. You're not looking for perfection especially in severe cases but more a reduction in the size, soreness and dryness and using the oil as preventative measure from the patches worsening.

The great thing about using the oils to help heal the soreness is that they are non-toxic and not chemical based so you can keep applying them until you see improvements. The downside is they can be a bit messy on your floor as your dog moves about, but we feel it's a small price to pay if it helps your dog. 

Ways to Help Prevent Elbow Callusos in Dogs 

  • Ensure you've got a number of soft beds around the house for your dog to lie on. Try to encourage them to use the beds especially if you've got a dog who loves hard floors.

  • Place rugs around the floors they like to lie on. Yes they may like the cool floor when it's hot and you'll not always prevent them from sleeping on the hard floor but the idea is to try to limit the number of times they sleep directly on a hard surface.

  • Regularly treat the elbows, hips and ears with any of the options above so it never gets to the point the hard skin becomes sore, turns into calluses, begins to crack etc.

  • Keep your dog at a healthy weight as the heavy the dog the more pressure will be on the bones that are in direct contact with the floor.

  • Regularly check over your dog's body. Yes it can be difficult if you've got a hairy dog, but you'll see the areas as you move the fur around and do a thorough inspection. Also if you're paying close attention to your dogs body language, if you gently push down or try to touch the areas your dog will generally let you know you're touching a sore spot.

  • Buy or make some elbow pads if your dog never sleeps on soft beds and help protect her joints, especially for the more severe cases.

  • Be mindful that the sore patches will develop more in summer months than winter as your dog seeks out cool floor spaces to lie down. Look to check and treat the patches more at this time of year to prevent them hardening further.

NOW, we'd love to hear your feedback so LEAVE A COMMENT and feel free to share this with people you think will love it.

Natural lifestyle, naturally health, naturally thriving!!
Naturally Reared Puppies
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Thursday, November 30 2023

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