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Scaly Skin Growth on Dog's Elbow

by Emily
(Indiana, PA, USA)

Scaly Growth on Left Elbow

Scaly Growth on Left Elbow

Scaly Growth on Left Elbow
Scaly Growth on Left Elbow

A few weeks ago, while brushing Max, I found something 'stuck' in his fur on his left elbow. He had just visted the groomer a few days before, so I found this very odd. It looked like dirty chewing gum, roughly the size of a quarter.

I tried to tug on it a bit to remove it from his fur, with no luck. Upon further inspection, I realized it wasn't gum, it was his skin! I panicked for a moment, and then checked the rest of his body for any other crazy patches, finding he had a smaller patch on his right elbow, about the size of a dime.

Max, an 8 year old Lab/Rottweiler mix, has always been in good health since I adopted him as a puppy. He's the correct weight. He's never had any pressing health issues other than an allergic reaction to fleas several years ago.

I treat him with Frontline during the warmer months, and he is up to date on his vaccines. Being that he is older, Max gets a multi-vitamin, a dog aspirin, and a glucosamine tablet daily. I've noticed this has improved his mobility; he went from acting stiff and sore to bouncing around like a puppy again.

I've done numerous internet searches trying to find out exactly what it is, but found nothing. The skin protrudes out through the hair, much like a skin tag would, but is flat so it's a flap of skin instead of a ball. It's very scaly, and gray, with a very reptilian feel and appearance.

At first I thought it could be some type of wart, but all the pictures I've seen of warts on dogs are round and pink, not flat and gray. I tried to take pictures, but they turned out blurry.

I've been keeping an eye on both of his elbows, and there seems to be no changes, good or bad. However, I've noticed Max does lick and chew at them occasionally so I know they must be irritating him.

I'm very concerned. My mom suggested that maybe it's a callous caused by friction when he lays on the carpet. I considered this idea, but noticed that the growth is higher up on his elbow and doesn't come in contact with the carpet when he's laying on the floor - it's at least a good inch above the point of contact.

I'd like to know what this growth is and how to treat it, if I can treat it myself, or if I should make an appointment with my vet.

Comments for Scaly Skin Growth on Dog's Elbow

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Aug 30, 2011
My Online Vet Response for Scaly Skin Growth on Dog's Elbow
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Emily,
Your mom is right. Even though the photos you took were out of focus, considering that Max is a large breed older dog, the scaly skin 'growths' are calluses.

They occur when Max is laying on his side on a rough surface or even carpet. In order to decrease their size, he needs a dog mattress or water bed to lay on, and also to increase his food with more moist food, canned instead of dry, and add in vegetables and meat. Check our page on 10 Best dog food options and consider a raw natural dog food diet. Also, topical moisturizers such as massaging in coconut oil to each callus might make his skin feel less irritating.

I would also limit the number of dog vaccines that you give him. Rabies every 3 years, and Distemper/Parvo every 3 years, and NOT in the same year as the Rabies.

Use a less toxic flea/tick control on him such as Wondercide. See our page on dog flea medicine for more suggestions.

If these suggestions do not improve his skin, then seek out a local holistic veterinarian for help.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

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DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Related Pages:
- Dog Warts,
- Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Warts, Cysts and Strange Growths Section,
- Dog Skin Conditions,
- Dog Skin Rash,
- Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Skin Rashes, Marks, Spots, Lesions & Patches (including itchy skin and mange) Section.
- Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Hair Loss Section

Sep 30, 2011
Milk Thistle and Other Herbs?
by: Sarah H.

I think my dog has the same thing without really knowing what's actually on your dog elbows due to the blurry pictures.

My dog's elbows have skin that appears to be the "extra ones" like they are so thick and almost as if they are skin tags (she does have many tags on her chest though) but they are actually not (?) on the elbows. There are also dirt embedded in those "pods", so when I gently squeeze the pods they will be pushed out easily.

I found out through my holistic vet that it had something to do with her spleen that was in poor health. It does appear that when I give her milk thistle and something else those "pods" would finally "crawl back" and make elbows look quite closer to normal.

I couldn't exactly figure out what supplements were that made this happen. I think it might be milk thistle but I did give her something else from time to time, so I couldn't be sure which one(s) of those that actually helped with this specific issue. I thought I would at least let you know about this.

Sep 19, 2012
I'm puzzled too!! I have 3 w/ elbow patches.
by: Anonymous

I have 3 border collie crosses...Two are border collie & lab x (1 boy & 1 girl, 1 & 1/2 yrs old -siblings), & the other border collie & boxer x, a girl, 7 mo old - 1/2 sibling to the older dogs.

The older 2 both have these grey elbow patches. The boy survived parvovirus @ 7 mo. He had the patches developing that early. Our vet initially told us callouses, but then suspected a weaken immune system, so he's been on herbal immune support for a while now. He also Has a severe itching going on all over. My husband has used ivamectin on him (helped a little, but not long-term). The immune suupot doesn't seem to help either.
The older girl has much smaller patches & no apparent itching or chewing. The younger girl is developing the patches, no itching.
We've switched from ivamectin to fiproguard -no change yet. They eat a no/low grain dry wholistic dog food, supplemented w/ antelope(from nature then our freezer). They sleep on the floor(carpet) & blankets & frequently the bed.
I'm puzzled too!!!

Sep 20, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Scaly Skin Growth on Dog's Elbow
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

To Sarah H. and Anonymous,

Thanks for your questions. I'm happy to help, but we only accept new questions from subscribers (the original question above was from a subscriber).
Please click here to sign up and submit your question and photos. I'll then get back to you right away at the bottom of your newly created web page.
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

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