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The Ultimate Handbook on Dog Dewclaw Injuries: An All-Inclusive Guide for Dog Owners

As a dog owner, you’re likely familiar with the joy and companionship your furry friend brings to your life. However, along with the fun and games, there are also responsibilities, including ensuring your pet’s health and well-being. One common issue that can cause concern is a broken or injured dewclaw. This guide will provide comprehensive information on how to handle such situations.

What is a Dewclaw?

A dewclaw is a small claw located on the inside of a dog’s leg, halfway between the metacarpal pad and the carpal pad. Unlike the other claws, it doesn’t touch the ground when the dog walks, which is why it’s often overlooked during grooming. However, it’s an essential part of your dog’s anatomy and serves several purposes, including providing extra traction when running and stabilizing the wrist joint. Some dogs even use their dewclaws to get a better grip on their food.

Recognizing Dewclaw Injuries

Signs of a Dewclaw Injury

A broken or injured dewclaw can cause significant discomfort for your dog. Signs of a dewclaw injury include continuous or excessive bleeding, licking or biting at the foot, swelling in the toe or foot, lameness, or sounds that indicate pain, such as whimpering or growling. If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to seek professional help immediately.

Comprehensive Guide to Dog Dewclaw Injuries: Everything You Need to Know

The Consequences of Ignoring a Damaged Dewclaw

Ignoring a damaged dewclaw can lead to further complications, including infections due to its connection to the bone. Therefore, even if the dewclaw is not bleeding, it’s best to consult a vet to prevent any potential issues.

First Aid for Dewclaw Injuries

Stemming the Bleeding

If your dog’s dewclaw is bleeding, you can perform some immediate first aid at home. Use styptic powder or flour to stem the bleeding as soon as possible. Cover the entire nail with the powder and gently apply pressure with a clean, lint-free cloth until the bleeding stops.

Applying a Dressing

After stemming the bleeding, you can apply a simple dressing to the paw to reduce the risk of infections in the nail bed or prevent the dog from irritating the injury further. Use a sterile pad from your pet first aid kit and a bandage wrap to keep it in place.

Contacting the Vet

After providing first aid, it’s essential to contact your vet. They will ask you questions over the phone and then advise on what to do next. Depending on the severity of the injury, your vet may recommend bringing your dog in for a more thorough examination and professional treatment.

Comprehensive Guide to Dog Dewclaw Injuries: Everything You Need to Know

Dewclaw Maintenance and Prevention

Regular Grooming

The dewclaw requires regular grooming just like the other nails on your dog’s paw. Due to its position further up the leg, it doesn’t experience the same wear as the other nails, which can lead to it growing longer and potentially causing injuries. Use nail clippers or scissors to maintain the right length and prevent the claw from growing in the wrong direction or becoming brittle and broken.

Avoiding Injuries During Grooming

While grooming your dog’s dewclaw, be careful not to cut the nail too short or into the quick (the blood vessel that runs through the nail). Misjudging the location of the quick or using toomuch force can lead to injuries. If you’re unsure, it’s best to seek professional help.

Dewclaw Removal: Pros and Cons

When is Dewclaw Removal Necessary?

Dewclaw removal is a controversial topic. Some breeders advocate for it to prevent potential injuries, while others argue that dewclaws serve important functions and should not be removed. In general, dewclaw removal is only recommended in certain situations, such as when the claw is torn from the bone or if there’s a risk of infection. In such cases, the vet will remove the claw, clean the wound, and bandage it up.

The Importance of Dewclaws

Despite the potential for injury, dewclaws are more important to your dog than you might realize. They provide extra traction when running, stabilize the wrist joint, and can even help dogs get a better grip on their food. Therefore, where possible, it’s best to let the claw heal and regrow.

Comprehensive Guide to Dog Dewclaw Injuries: Everything You Need to Know


Should dew claws be removed?

The decision to remove dew claws is subjective and depends on various factors, including the dog’s breed, lifestyle, and the owner’s preference. However, it’s important to remember that dew claws serve important functions and should not be removed without a valid reason.

What should you do if your dog’s dew claw breaks?

If your dog’s dew claw breaks, clean the wound, apply pressure to stop the bleeding, and bandage the wound to prevent infection. If the dew claw has been completely severed, take your dog to the vet immediately.

Do all dogs have dew claws?

Not all dogs have dew claws. Some dogs have dew claws only on their front legs, while others do not have dew claws at all.

Why is it called a dew claw?

The term “dew claw” comes from the fact that these claws do not touch the ground but can collect morning dew.

Do dewclaws grow back?

If the nail has been broken or split, a dew claw will usually grow back. However, if the actual claw itself has been surgically removed and the germinal epithelium in the nail base is completely removed, it will not grow back.


In conclusion, dewclaw injuries are a common issue that dog owners may encounter. However, with the right knowledge and approach, these injuries can be effectively managed. Remember, the key is to act promptly, provide immediate first aid, and consult a vet for professional treatment. By doing so, you can ensure your furry friend’s well-being and happiness.

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