What Is A Dog’s Dew Claw Injury And How Do You Take Care Of It? | AuthorityDog
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What Is A Dog’s Dew Claw Injury And How Do You Take Care Of It?

Have you noticed that your dog is limping? I once observed my pet favoring a paw over another. I did not know what to do so I took him to the vet, and I learned that it was because of a torn or broken nail. This type of injury is pretty common, and the good news is you can deal with it at home.

A dew claw injury is even more prevalent in dogs because unlike other nails; they do not weaken or wear down. Dogs do not use dew claws (or dewclaws) when they walk. It is the only nail found in the animal's ankle region or above the front of their feet.

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This nail is susceptible to breaking and tearing because of its position. It is loosely attached as well, so the risk is even more significant than regular nails. A dew claw injury may also be a result of nail clipping.

Typically, owners do not trim this nail, but others do. The dog only has to jerk his paw, and the nail can chip or break. If he does yank it hard enough, it can result in a partially torn nail, or he might even rip it out entirely.

As a dog lover and owner, I am sure you do not want to see your dog limping and even worse, in pain. You can help him feel better and avoid other issues, such as irritability and other behavior problems.

Symptoms of a Dew Claw Injury

How do you know your dog is suffering from a dew claw injury? There are a few signs to watch out for and here are the most important ones:

Favoring one paw: One of the most noticeable symptoms of this nail injury is when you see your dog holding one paw in the air. Usually, he would walk on his four legs, but if you observe that your dog is not using it for walking, there is undoubtedly something wrong with it. Check the foot immediately and look at the nails to confirm.

Limping: Perhaps one of the most straightforward symptoms of a dew claw injury is when your dog is limping. It is often the first sign that you will see. Your dog will visibly not put weight on a particular paw as he walks. It is like he is telling you there is something wrong with that part of his body.

Blood: Bleeding is not a typical symptom, especially when compared to limping. However, some dogs would bleed if they have a cracked or broken nail. If you notice there is blood on your dog's fur or his bedding, make sure that you do not neglect his paws when checking for clues.

Licking: Another symptom that your dog has a problem with his nail is that he is always licking the paw where the injured nail is found. Many owners tend to ignore this signal since they believe licking is part of the dog's nature. While it is true, persistently licking a paw should alert you that there is something wrong with that part of the leg.

Swollen toe or paw: If the toe or paw is visibly inflamed, you should check it right away. A swollen paw often appears with other symptoms, including constant licking and limping. Additionally, it may be a challenge to examine the toe because your dog will resist and yank his paw away. Be firm but make sure you are not hurting your pet; otherwise, it will just scare him.

// Sometimes, dogs can be stubborn when they are in pain. If he does not allow you to check his injured paw, it may be time to go to the veterinarian.

Causes of a Dew Claw Injury

Because dew claw injuries are quite common, any dog can suffer from them. However, some situations increase the risk to nail trauma, including:

Overgrown nails: Some owners do not touch the dew claw. While they clip the other nails on the dog's paws, they leave the dewclaws since they are high above the rest anyway. Others just forget to trim them. Unfortunately, it can lead to pain since long or overgrown nails can easily break or chip.

Metabolic conditions: If your dog has a problem with his health, such as he has glandular or metabolic conditions, injured nails are more prevalent than those that are healthy. An example is a dog with thyroid disease, which can cause nail problems, including brittleness. Therefore, your dog is susceptible to nail chipping.

Congenital issues: Some dogs have acquired weak nails as soon as their mothers delivered them. They will have the problem throughout their lives, and one of the side effects is being prone to frequently damaged nails. Often, there is no cure for this, but you can help prevent the consequences by taking care of your dog's nails.

Tumors: If your dog is limping, is continually licking a swollen toe, or you have noticed that he does not use a specific paw when walking, it can be due to a tumor growing on his toe. As a result, the nails become fragile and can be easily damaged. This situation is rare, but if it happens to your pet, you will need the help of a vet.

Accidents and other causes: If you have an active dog, the most common reason for a broken nail is when he comes in contact with a sharp object. It may also be due to parasites, bacteria, or even stress. Perhaps other animals bit him, and it may have led to swelling or direct nail injury.

A simple wound due to a ripped dew claw can cause swelling, pain, and even infection. In this case, it is necessary that you provide treatment immediately to help alleviate your dog's suffering.

Diagnosis of a Dew Claw Injury

You do not have to go to a veterinarian to diagnose whether your dog has a broken nail or not. Once you have noticed the symptoms, especially the limping and the licking of a specific paw, you can tell the location of the affected area. A visual inspection is all it takes to figure out the injury.

- If your dog does not want you to touch his toe or you can sense it is especially painful, you are required to go to the vet for tranquilization or local anesthesia.

How to Treat Dew Claw Injury

Injured nails can be truly painful and may even lead to an infection. You need to begin treatment right away.

Stop your dog's dew claw injury or nail from bleeding.

If the affected area is bleeding, it is necessary that you stop it. Often, mild bleeding is a result of removing the damaged portion of the nail. It should only last for 24 hours. If it persists, here are some remedies that are guaranteed to put a stop to the bleeding:

Styptic powder: Just apply it to the wound and its cauterizing agent will help seal the area to stop the bleeding almost immediately.

Styptic pencil: Just the same with styptic powder, the pencil can seal the wound, and the bleeding will stop when you hold the item on the wound for about two minutes.

Cornstarch and baking soda: Another method is to use baking soda or cornstarch. Apply it on the wound and use a towel to keep it in place for a few minutes. The bleeding should stop or decrease significantly when you remove the towel. You can also use regular flour.

Potassium permanganate: If this is your choice to staunch the bleeding, you will need the crystals, some cotton swabs, and water to keep the swabs moist. Vets commonly use this powder in stopping bleeding nails. It is natural and highly practical and you can get it online or at pet stores in your area.

Once the swabs are damp, let the crystals stick to the cotton and apply it to the bleeding paw. You will need to hold it in place for about 30 seconds. You should see the effect right away. If the bleeding has not stopped, retry but this time, press the swab on the wound for five minutes. If it still does not work, make sure that you contact the vet immediately.

Homemade remedies: You can also use a bar of soap to stop your dog's bleeding. Just press it onto the claw for three to four minutes, and it will create a plug that seals the nail injury. It helps to hold the nail at 90 degrees with the nail firmly embedded in the soap for about three to four millimeters.

You can also mix flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and water until you form a thick paste. Use a cotton ball to gather the paste and apply it directly to the damaged nail. Leave it there for a few minutes, and it should lessen the bleeding. You can do it again to stop the blood loss completely.

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Remain calm

Blood loss that happens when you remove the nail is not dangerous, specifically if you have a healthy dog. The bleeding may look alarming, and your dog may be reacting to it. The blood may also spread all over the floor, causing you to be uncomfortable.

Whatever you do, always stay calm, especially when you are treating the broken nail. Your dog can sense that you are agitated and he will worry as well -- even if he trusts you. Also, if you are trying to remove the nail or a portion of it, shaky hands will not help. Breathe deeply first and be calm so that you can accomplish the job faster and more effectively than when you are nervous.

Prevent the infection from spreading.

The best method here is to bathe the dog in the warm water. It is much easier to soak the paw, but you can do whatever works for you and your dog.

One of the most important things to do when your dog's nail is injured is to make sure the wound is clean. It will help in disinfecting the toe so that it will not lead to an infection.

When you do this method, you should be confident that debris and dirt are all gone. You can gently massage the dog's paw while submerged in water. It is also reassuring for your pet if you remain calm and use a soft, soothing voice whenever you talk to him.

After bathing, you can use a pet antiseptic on the affected area. It will not only help in disinfecting the toe, but it will also relieve the discomfort that your pet may be feeling due to the open wound.

  • It is not recommended that you use hydrogen peroxide because it can make things worse. Instead, use diluted betadine or plain Neosporin to disinfect and help heal the area quickly.

In some cases, the wound will start bleeding again. If this happens to your pet, you can grab the styptic powder or pencil or perform any of the home remedies above to stop the blood from coming out of the wound.

Bandage the dew claw injury

After you have cleaned and disinfected the wound, it is time to put a bandage all over it. The problem with this procedure is that dogs do not like it when their owners apply the dressing.

They want their paws to be free to feel the ground. It is often tricky, but it can be done. Here are the steps to help make sure your dog accepts the dressing:

  • If you know your pet does not like to have his foot bandaged, you can try wrapping it in a loose-fitting one. This way, he will not notice it that much, or he will not feel uncomfortable when it is wrapped around his foot.
  • Use a first aid tape, which will hold the bandage in place.
  • If your dog does not accept the bandage or he did but changed his mind about it and starts to complain, an alternative is to use a clean sock. It does not have to be loose, but something tight-fitting is not advised. A sock works better compared to a regular bandage because it does not restrict the movement of your dog's paw. Dogs tend to like socks more, and they usually do not pull it off of their foot.
  • Once again, tape the sock in place using the first aid tape mentioned above.
  • If your dog pulls the sock or the bandage off, a plastic cone may be advised. An E collar or Elizabethan collar around your dog's neck can restrain it from biting, chewing, and licking his paws, while keeping the dressing intact.
  • Step 6: Never forget to keep the area clean and make sure you change the bandage every single day. As you do so, check if the wound is healing the way you expect it. If there are still problems, you should not hesitate to talk to a vet.

Applying bandage or sock to your dog's paw is essential, particularly if your pet likes to chew or lick his claws. You can also use a gauze pad if available and make sure that you tape it in place as well.

Recovery of Dew Claw Injury

If you have followed the steps mentioned in this tutorial, your dog's dew claw injury should be better in just a day or two.

This injury can happen to your dog for any reason, such as when you are clipping his nails. There is no need to panic when you see him bleeding because it is normal and can be treated.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed this tutorial and did not forget to share your thoughts in the comments. You can also share the article if you liked it -- and to help other dog owners know what to do if their dog suffers from a dew claw injury.

  • Andy Jojo says:

    Great Stuff!

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