Treating Dog Calluses Starts with Preventing Them

In the first post of this series about Big Dog Calluses, I posed the questionAre they Inevitable or Preventable?

My belief was and still is that dog calluses do not have to be the necessary evil that many people believe they are.  While we may not be able to prevent them entirely in ALL big dogs, they can and should be treated. 

I outlined these in Big Dog Calluses: Are they Inevitable or Preventable?, but wanted to start this post with a few tips on how to prevent elbow calluses BEFORE sharing with you HOW to TREAT them.

4 Proven Ways to Prevent Dog Calluses


Ensure your big dog has access to ample and proper bedding to lay on.  Because calluses are caused, in part, by pressure on bones and joints, reducing that pressure with quality orthopedic bedding is key.  Here are a few of my personal favorites:


Reduce the amount of time your big dog spends on hard surfaces and those that create a lot of friction like concrete and carpet. Carpet is often overlooked when it comes to dog calluses, but the friction it generates can be minimized easily with a bed or soft blanket.


Consider your dog’s genetics or the genetics of a puppy you are considering buying.  In my experience, certain lines (pedigrees) are more prone to calluses than others.  Some dogs have ancestors that never had issues with calluses, whereas others have a significant family history of dogs with large calluses and callus infections (callus pyoderma). 

Consider this when purchasing a puppy. Not that I would bypass a puppy from a line with calluses.  But if the line has a history of issues with calluses, it would be good to know this ahead of time.


Keep your big dog’s weight under control.  Remember that the skin on the elbows and hocks is relatively thin and sensitive, so the more pressure at these joints caused by weight against the floor or ground combined with friction against the surface is what causes the skin to thicken.  An obese or overweight dog or a puppy that is allowed to grow too heavy for his frame will be at higher risk for developing elbow and hock calluses.


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“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.”  ~Bill Gates

We both know the problem.  Your big dog has calluses and you fear them worsening over time as he or she ages.  You know calluses that are not treated can crack, bleed, ulcerate and even become infected.

But what is the solution to this problem? 

In addition to implementing the aforementioned four strategies for prevention, I recommend keeping that skin healthy by using a balm, butter or salve to prevent it from getting dry and cracked. 

In the last two years I have spent a small fortune in various products from Vaseline and Bag Balm to Blissful Dog Elbow Butter.  But after spending a great deal of money with a little success, I was determined to learn how to make my own elbow butter at home and come up with a formula that would be more effective for my big dogs’ calluses.   

For this not-so-Martha-Stewarty Big Dog Mom, this DIY project has been a fun challenge and very much a labor of love. 

The rest of this post will share with you the complete recipe for making Big Dog Mom’s DIY Elbow Butter with Essential Oils for Dogs and the rationale for the ingredients I use.

And, if you would you would like my FREE printable PDF with the complete recipe and step-by-step directions, click here. 

How to Make DIY Elbow Butter with Essential Oils for Dogs

Big Dog Mom’s DIY Elbow Butter Recipe:

4 tsp Organic Beeswax (5.3 TBS)

2 TBS Shea Butter (1/2 cup)

2 TBS Coconut Oil (Unrefined) (1/2 cup)

2 TBS Sweet Almond Oil (1/2 cup)

1 tsp Vitamin E Oil (1 TBS + 1 tsp)

3 drops of each Essential Oil (12 drops of each)

** In parentheses is the amount you will need to quadruple the recipe. This is the amount I prepared in the video tutorial below.  For a FREE printable PDF with the recipe and step-by-step directions, click here.

Health Benefits of the Natural Ingredients in DIY Elbow Butter for Dogs

Organic Beeswax – Helps to maintain its consistency in warmer temperatures. 

Shea Butter – Shea butter is an intense moisturizer for dry skin, and is a wonderful product for revitalizing damaged skin. It is naturally rich in Vitamins A and E as well as essential fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals.

Coconut Oil (Unrefined) – Terrific moisturizer.  Provides protective layer for the skin helping it to retain moisture. Coconut oil has been proven to help skin conditions like hot spots, bites, stings, or itchy, dry skin.

Sweet Almond Oil – Sweet almond oil contains fatty acids as well as vitamins A and E and penetrates easily into the skin.

Vitamin E Oil Terrific moisturizer for dry, itchy skin. Vitamin E oil is also great for preventing rancidity in cosmetics, and it acts as an anti-oxidant in lotions and body butters.

Health Benefits of the Essential Oils Used In Big Dog Mom’s DIY Elbow Butter for Dogs

Calendula Seed Oil – Also known as pot marigold and is a member of the sunflower family.  This essential oil is often used to soothe and heal a variety of skin issues and is widely considered a wound healer. From minor cuts, insect bites, abrasions, or post-surgical incisions, calendula offers antimicrobial properties with soothing relief to pain and swelling.  In addition, calendula oil can be applied topically for a broad spectrum of fungal infections.

Lavender Many folks in the Big Dog Mom Community use Lavender for their dog’s anxiety with good success.  Used topically, true lavender oil has antibacterial, anti-itch, and nerve-calming properties.  As such, it is good for many common dog ailments and problems, such as skin irritations, insect bites, cuts and burns.

Roman Chamomile Roman Chamomile is antispasmodic, pain relieving, and nerve-calming. It is very gentle and is an excellent oil to use for soothing and calming anxious dogs. It is also effective for relief of muscle pains, cramps, puppy teething pain.

Organic Cedarwood Atlas Cedar oil is natural and non-toxic and used as a natural pesticide and insect repellent. It is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, antiseptic, tonifying, circulation-stimulating. Good for skin and coat conditioning and dermatitis of all types. Cedarwood essential oil stimulates the hair follicles and increases the skin’s circulation. This helps the hair/fur to grow and is great for applications where there is thinning or hair/fur loss.

Niaouli 1,8 – Cineole Niaouli has powerful antibacterial properties and is used to help dogs with skin irritation and infections caused by allergies. It is an effective antiseptic oil that can disinfect and help fight bacterial infections. 

What you Need to Know Before Using Essential Oils 

Before I get a flood of comments from essential oil companies and their sales people, I am the first to admit this. 

I am not an expert on the use of essential oils and I don’t play one on Dog TV. 

When I was doing my research on which essential oils to put in my elbow butter, these five stood out for their skin healing, inflammation-reducing, and antimicrobial  properties. 

I verified all five of them would be safe for dogs, at least when applied topically in a carrier oil. But with that said, there are a few things you need to know about using essential oils before you use them.

1. Carrier Oil is a Must for Topical Use of Essential Oils

Because these essential oils will be applied topically, they must be diluted in a carrier oil.  The rough guideline is to add 3-5 drops of essential oil to 1 oz. of carrier oil. Since I am treating big dogs, the amount I can use is actually much higher than this, but it is the guideline that is generally accepted as safe. 

2. Essential Oils can be Toxic if Ingested

Essential oils can be toxic if ingested.   When used in my DIY elbow butter for dogs, please be cautious of where you are applying the balm and avoid areas where your dog will want to lick.  I have used it on my boys’ paws and hocks without issue, but my boys really aren’t big lickers. 

3. Special Health Considerations on the Use of Essential Oils for Dogs

Essential oils should be avoided in dogs who are prone to seizures or have canine epilepsy or are pregnant.  And essential oils should not be used on puppies less than 10 weeks old.

For More Information on Dog Calluses and Essential Oils

Bacterial Infection (Pyoderma) of the Skin in Dogs: PetMD 

Calluses in Dogs by

Nikki White from has some great information about essential oils here

Dog’s Naturally Magazine:5 Essential Oils Your Dog Shouldn’t Be Without

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How to Treat Dog Calluses Naturally with DIY Elbow Butter and Essential Oils ultima modifica: 2018-11-06T03:47:54+00:00 da BigDogMom
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