5 Modern Treatment Options for Calcinosis Cutis in Dogs – A Detailed Review

Calcinosis Cutis (CC) in dogs is a challenging skin condition characterized by the deposition of calcium salts in the skin, leading to discomfort and potential health issues for affected pets.

Effective management and treatment are crucial for improving the quality of life of dogs suffering from this condition. This article explores five modern treatment options that veterinarians and pet owners can consider to alleviate the symptoms of Calcinosis Cutis in dogs.

1. Surgical Removal of Isolated Lesions

Surgical Removal

Surgical intervention serves as a critical option for dogs suffering from Calcinosis Cutis, particularly when lesions are isolated and significantly impact the animal’s quality of life. This approach involves the precise excision of calcium deposits from the dog’s skin, aiming to alleviate discomfort and prevent secondary infections.

Benefits of Surgical Removal

  • Immediate Relief: Dogs often experience immediate relief from discomfort and irritation post-surgery.
  • Prevents Secondary Infections: By removing ulcerated or infected lesions, surgery reduces the risk of secondary infections.
  • Quick Recovery: With proper care, dogs can recover swiftly, returning to their normal activities.

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Considerations Before Surgery

  • Health Assessment: A thorough examination ensures a dog is fit for anesthesia and surgery.
  • Lesion Location and Size: Ideal for lesions that are not widespread; size and accessibility determine surgical feasibility.
  • Post-Surgical Care: Requires diligent care, including wound management and follow-up visits.

Surgical Procedure Steps

  1. Pre-Surgical Assessment: Comprehensive health check and lesion evaluation.
  2. Anesthesia Administration: Ensures the dog’s comfort and immobility during the procedure.
  3. Lesion Excision: Careful removal of the lesion while preserving surrounding healthy tissue.
  4. Wound Closure: Application of sutures or staples, depending on the incision size.
  5. Recovery Monitoring: Post-operative observation to manage pain and prevent complications.

Post-Surgical Care

  • Wound Management: Regular cleaning and monitoring for signs of infection.
  • Pain Management: Administration of prescribed pain relievers to ensure comfort.
  • Activity Restriction: Limiting physical activity to prevent wound disruption.
  • Follow-Up Visits: Essential for removing sutures and assessing healing progress.

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2. Shampoos and Hydrotherapy

Dogs Shampoos

The application of medicated shampoos and hydrotherapy stands as a non-invasive treatment for dogs with Calcinosis Cutis. This method focuses on alleviating symptoms through topical treatment and water therapy, promoting healing and comfort without the need for surgery.

Malcolm Weir says that “The cause of calcinosis circumscripta is unknown, but there seems to be a genetic or hereditary component. It typically affects large breed dogs, especially German Shepherds, and often appears in young dogs (under two years of age).”

Advantages of Medicated Shampoos and Hydrotherapy

  • Soothes Skin: Medicated shampoos can calm inflamed skin and reduce itchiness.
  • Cleanses Lesions: Helps in removing debris and crusts from the skin surface.
  • Enhances Healing: Hydrotherapy improves circulation, aiding in the healing process.

Key Components of Medicated Shampoos

  • Antibacterial Agents: Target and reduce secondary bacterial infections.
  • Antifungal Properties: Address any concurrent fungal infections.
  • Steroid Components: May contain mild steroids to reduce inflammation.


  • Gentle Exercise: Swimming or walking in water supports gentle movement, beneficial for skin health.
  • Warm Water Soaks: Encourages blood flow to the skin, promoting healing.
  • Controlled Environment: Ensures the water is clean and at an appropriate temperature.

Steps for Effective Use

  1. Consultation with a Veterinarian: To choose the right medicated shampoo.
  2. Regular Bathing Routine: Establish a consistent schedule for shampoo application.
  3. Application Technique: Proper application and massage techniques enhance effectiveness.
  4. Duration of Treatment: Follow the veterinarian’s advice on how long to leave the shampoo on the skin.
  5. Combining with Hydrotherapy: Integrate hydrotherapy sessions as recommended.

Post-Treatment Care

  • Skin Monitoring: Watch for any signs of irritation or allergic reactions.
  • Adjustments to Treatment: Modify the approach based on the dog’s response.
  • Continued Veterinary Support: Regular check-ups to assess progress and adjust treatment as necessary.

3. Application of Minocycline

Application of Minocycline

Minocycline, an antibiotic with calcium-chelating properties, emerges as a novel treatment for Calcinosis Cutis in dogs. Beyond its antibacterial action, it directly targets the calcified lesions, offering a dual approach to treatment.

Why Minocycline?

  • Dual Action: Combats bacterial infections while addressing the calcification process.
  • Calcium Chelation: Binds to calcium in the lesions, reducing calcification.
  • Inhibits Enzymes: Slows down the enzymes responsible for skin mineralization.

Effective Administration

  • Oral Medication: Typically administered as an oral tablet, making it easy to include in the dog’s routine.
  • Dosage and Duration: Veterinarian will determine based on the dog’s size, severity of symptoms, and overall health.
  • Monitoring Response: Regular check-ups to assess effectiveness and adjust dosage as needed.

Steps for Successful Treatment

  1. Diagnosis Confirmation: Ensure Calcinosis Cutis is the correct diagnosis.
  2. Begin Treatment: Start minocycline as prescribed by the veterinarian.
  3. Observe for Side Effects: Monitor the dog for any adverse reactions to the medication.
  4. Adjust as Necessary: Dosage adjustments may be required based on the dog’s response.

Key Considerations

  • Allergic Reactions: Be alert for signs of an allergic response to the medication.
  • Interaction with Other Medications: Discuss all current medications with the veterinarian to avoid interactions.
  • Long-Term Use: Considerations for the implications of prolonged antibiotic use.

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4. Treatment with DMSO Gel

Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) gel offers a unique approach to treating Calcinosis Cutis in dogs. This treatment leverages DMSO’s properties as a solvent to penetrate the skin and dissolve calcium deposits, facilitating their removal from affected tissues.

Purpose of DMSO Gel

  • Penetrative Action: DMSO’s ability to penetrate the skin allows it to reach deep-seated calcifications.
  • Calcium Dissolution: Helps dissolve calcium deposits, easing their elimination.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: Reduces inflammation around the lesions, providing relief.

According to Dr. Brad Hinsperger: Dog owners can use either liquid or gel-based products of DMSO, with gel-based products being simpler to apply. If your dog has large areas of skin affected by lesions, start by treating a small area, then gradually expand the treated area. Treating too much too quickly may have adverse effects, so it is important to progress gradually.

Application Protocol

  • Topical Application: DMSO gel is applied directly to the affected areas of the skin.
  • Frequency of Use: Typically applied once or twice daily, based on veterinary guidance.
  • Duration of Treatment: Continues until noticeable improvement in lesions, as determined by a veterinarian.

Steps for Effective Treatment

  1. Clean the Area: Ensure the skin is clean before application.
  2. Apply Gel: Use gloves to apply a thin layer of DMSO gel to the lesions.
  3. Monitor Skin Reaction: Watch for any signs of irritation or adverse effects.
  4. Adjust Treatment: Based on the dog’s response, the treatment plan may need adjustments.

Important Considerations

  • Skin Sensitivity: Some dogs may experience irritation; a patch test can be informative.
  • Protective Measures: Handlers should wear gloves to avoid absorbing DMSO through their own skin.
  • Veterinary Supervision: Essential for monitoring progress and managing any side effects.

5. Taper and Discontinue Causative Glucocorticoids

use of glucocorticoids

Reducing or eliminating the use of glucocorticoids that contribute to Calcinosis Cutis is a fundamental step in treatment, aiming to halt the progression of the condition.

Why Tapering Glucocorticoids?

  • Underlying Cause: Glucocorticoids can induce Calcinosis Cutis; reducing their use addresses the root of the problem.
  • Prevent Withdrawal: Gradual tapering helps avoid potential withdrawal symptoms.

Tapering Strategy

  • Veterinary Supervision: A veterinarian should oversee the tapering process to ensure it’s done safely.
  • Individualized Plan: The tapering schedule is tailored to each dog, considering the duration and dosage of glucocorticoid use.
  • Monitoring: Close observation for signs of the underlying condition flaring up or withdrawal symptoms.

Steps for Successful Tapering

  1. Assessment: Evaluate the dog’s health and the necessity of glucocorticoid therapy.
  2. Gradual Reduction: Slowly decrease the glucocorticoid dose over time.
  3. Alternative Therapies: Introduce other treatments to manage the underlying condition without glucocorticoids.
  4. Ongoing Evaluation: Regular check-ups to adjust the tapering process and manage any emerging issues.

Key Considerations

  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Watch for signs of adrenal insufficiency or relapse of the treated condition.
  • Alternative Management: Explore other medications or treatments to control the underlying disease.


Does calcinosis cutis hurt dogs?

Calcinosis cutis is a condition where calcium deposits form in the skin of dogs. It can cause pain, itching, inflammation, and ulceration of the skin, depending on the location and size of the deposits.

What causes calcinosis cutis in dogs?

There are different causes of calcinosis cutis in dogs, but the most common one is the overproduction of corticosteroids, a type of hormone, by the adrenal glands or the pituitary gland. This can be due to tumors, overgrowth, or long-term medication. Other causes include kidney disease, diabetes, infections, and genetic factors.

Can food cause high calcium in dogs?

Food alone is unlikely to cause high calcium in dogs, unless it contains excessive amounts of calcium or vitamin D, which can increase calcium absorption. However, food can interact with other factors that affect calcium levels, such as medications, diseases, and dehydration. Therefore, it is important to feed your dog a balanced and appropriate diet for their age and health condition.

Is 0.1% DMSO toxic?

DMSO is a chemical solvent that can penetrate the skin and carry other substances with it. It is used as a prescription medication for some conditions, but it can also have side effects and risks. 0.1% DMSO is considered to be safe for most cells, but it can still cause irritation, allergic reactions, or interactions with other drugs. Therefore, it should be used with caution and under medical supervision.


Treating Calcinosis Cutis in dogs requires a combination of strategies, each aimed at addressing different aspects of the condition. With the right approach, it’s possible to alleviate symptoms and enhance the well-being of affected dogs. Success hinges on careful selection of treatments, ongoing observation, and a dedicated effort from both veterinarians and pet owners. Through such concerted efforts, significant improvements in the health and comfort of dogs with Calcinosis Cutis can be achieved.