Dew Claw Injuries and Treatments Explained

Dewclaws look like your dog’s thumb, but they’re far from being useful. In fact, the only time you’ll ever even remember your dog has dewclaws is when they’re snagged on something and start to bleed. What do you do if your dog injures their dewclaw?

Do dewclaws serve a purpose?

If you’ve been around a lot of dogs, you know that some have their dews and others don’t. Some dogs only have them on their front legs; others have them on their hind legs. Certain purebreds are required to have the rear dew claw to meet the breed standards in the show ring.

Dogs don’t use their dews like we use our thumbs, but these extraneous nails have a small purpose. Watch your dog the next time they chew a bone or toy. When they wrap their paws around the objects, the dew claw provides extra grip.

Tree-climbing breeds like the Catahoula Leopard dog use their dews to help them climb trees!

Dew Claw Injuries

Despite their location, these nails are still every bit a part of your dog’s anatomy as their other nails. The dew claws are connect to the leg with muscle and sometimes bone, so it’s very painful when the nail is torn off. They’re more loosely attached than other nails, so they’re definitely more likely to get caught on things and torn off.

These injuries aren’t serious. The nail itself either breaks off or it’s torn completely off. As you know, a dog’s nails have “quicks” in them, meaning they have a blood supply. When the nails are broken or torn off, there’s a lot of bleeding. Dew claws are no exception to this.

Signs of a Dew Claw Injury

If your dog has injured their dew claw, you’ll notice:

  • Limping
  • Crying out when you try to touch the leg
  • Bleeding

Treating a Dew Claw Injury

These injuries are quite simple to treat! If the nail is torn but still connected to the leg, your vet will probably pull it off completely. If it’s just broken, the nail will be trimmed to get rid of the broken part. If there’s a lot of bleeding or the nail has come completely off, a bandage is placed, and it stays on for about three days unless it becomes wet.
Dew claw injuries can be pretty painful, so your pup might go home on pain medications. If the nail is completely removed, antibiotics might be necessary to ward off any infections.

Preventing Dew Claw Mishaps

Preventing this type of injury is pretty easy! A lot of owners neglect to trim the dew claw because it doesn’t look that long, but this is the biggest cause of tears and breaks. Whenever you have your dog’s nails trimmed, ensure you’re trimming that dew, too! When it’s kept short, it’s far less likely to be broken or torn.

Dew claws don’t have much of a function on domesticated dogs, but they can cause some trouble if they don’t remain well-trimmed! Keep your dog’s dew claws trimmed with the rest of their nails, and you’ll help prevent the nuisance of a torn dew claw.