Help, My Dog Ripped His Dew Claw!
I had no idea how common of an injury a torn dew claw is in dogs until it happened to my American Bulldog last week. I ran into the Post Office for literally 2 minutes, only to return to find that Tucker was standing in the front seat of the car holding up a bloody paw. At first I was unsure where all of the blood was coming from, but then I noticed his dew claw was bent in a way that it was actually pointing out from his body, and realized he had torn his dew claw almost all the way off.
A dog will not bleed to death from ripping a dew claw off, but it can be very uncomfortable, and their pain needs should be adequately addressed. Baby aspirin is safe for dogs to take, but you will want to contact a medical professional for dosing instructions if your dog has never taken aspirin before. If after a few days your dog is still in a great deal of pain or not using the affected leg, you should seek medical attention. The most important thing to watch out for if you are self-treating a dog with a torn or ripped dew claw is to watch for signs of infection including pus, oozing, infection site hot to the touch, swelling, and intense discomfort.
Keep in mind I am not a veterinarian or animal health professional, but below I will outline what we did to treat Tucker’s paw at home, and avoid a costly trip to the vet (you should always go to the vet in the event of an emergency such as uncontrolled bleeding or infection).
What To Do If Your Dog Tears Off His Dew Claw
The first thing I did was to get Tucker into the house and clean off his paw. I did this by filling a shallow pan with some water and putting his whole leg into it; do not use peroxide to clean the wound, it can actually cause an infection or make it worse (remember: if you would not put it in your eye, do not put it in an open wound). Tucker did not seem to be in much discomfort during this whole process, but he did become a little more concerned when I was putting water directly on the nail to clean out the area and see how much damage was done. Once the area was cleaned I saw that the nail was almost broken all the way off, and that the quick under the dew claw nail was completely exposed.
I contemplated cutting the nail off entirely, but since it did not seem to be causing him any pain, I chose to just trim the nail down a bit to keep it out of his way, waiting to see if it would come off on its own. After trimming I applied pressure to the nail area and the bleeding stopped within a few minutes. I then applied some antibiotic cream to the area once it was clean, and decided to keep it bandage-free (it would have been difficult to comfortably put a bandage around the paw with the nail in the position it was in).
The entire first day and night Tucker pretty much ignored the nail. It was only when he sat or laid in a way that the nail was touching something or smashed under him that he seemed to remember it hurt. Walking, running, jumping and being crazy really seemed to have no effect on him. When he did bump the nail on things he went ahead and licked it a bit, which I allowed as long as it was not too soon after an application of antibiotic, and this was stopped when it became excessive.
The second day, in the evening before I was getting ready to apply another round of Neosporin (I was doing this 3x a day), Tucker shifted his position in his dog bed and the nail popped off! There was no crying, no bleeding, and really no major issue when this happened – it just now was easier for me to take care of. After the nail came off I cleaned the area again with water (I used salt water this time), and applied some Neosporin, covering the area in a bandage for the evening.
I have continued this same rotation of applying Neosporin and a bandage at night, then removing the bandage and applying antibiotic ointment in the morning, and the area is starting to heal. I do let Tucker take care of the area on his own somewhat, allowing him to lick after he returns from potty breaks or running around the house, but we try to keep the licking at a minimum. I read on a few other websites that it can take up to a month or more for the dew claw to heal, so I will be sure to post updates as we get closer to that benchmark. Feel free to post your experiences here as well
Here is a photo of what his torn dew claw looked like on the first day after cleaning:
2 WEEK UPDATE:
I am no longer bandaging or applying Neosporin to the area, and it seems to be doing fine. The quick is still exposed with no sign of nail formation, but I have been reassured that this is normal. There has not been any sign of infection and Tucker is not bothered by it in the least. I was a bit concerned with him going outside with the wound exposed, but it has not caused any issue, and I am letting Tucker lick the area as he feels necessary (which is usually just for a few minutes when he comes inside and first thing in the morning).
6 WEEK UPDATE:
After 6 weeks the nail is FINALLY starting to grow back. Tucker has a little bit of a stub coming out and the nail looks somewhat dark, but otherwise normal. These last weeks have really been a breeze, and Tucker did all of the work himself after the first week of bandaging and antibiotic application. The nail looks great and Tucker is feeling good. Since the incident we have been making more of an effort to do nail trimming more frequently so we can avoid something like this in the future.