Dog Tore Off Dew Claw

Sep 16, 2008 by

Dog Tore Off Dew Claw

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:

Dog Ripped Dew Claw Dog Tore Dew Claw Off


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).


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.

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  1. Ty

    Hi, My APBT banged his dew, claw, seemed to have sprained the actual thumb, soreness swelling and bleeding from the side of the nail. Soaked it in warm salt water, twice a day for a few days. It was tender so best not to agitate him, the dew claw seem to be dying off changing color, but is fully intact but elongated. no fold retraction. anyone know if the claw if dead will fall out ? He isnt keen on the vet ” growls ” but if it has to be removed hes just going to have to play nice. cheers.

  2. My Bordeaux/Staffy ripped his dewclaw off completely to the bleed a lot and after a week, it still bleeds! It does look better and not so raw and I almost brought him to the vets too. I was glad to read in this article that you didnt and just did as I have been doing. I wash it in tree Oil medicated shampoo, spray anti-bacterial spray for dogs on it, let that air dry, then i put neosporin and a cotton swab with a flex-bandage wrap. Now that I know, 6 weeks is about average, I will just keep doing that in between letting it air dry.

  3. Cammy

    Our Jack Russell tore part of his dew claw off and we applied Neosporin, Bactene, and bandaged the paw with vet elastic wrap. He did try at first to take the bandage off, but after repeatedly telling him no, he quit. If the quick is still intact, the claw will grow back. Evidently, this is a somewhat common injury for playful dogs, but if there is pus, yellow/green discharge, or swelling; TAKE THEM TO THE VET! There is an infection there that could become serious.

  4. Richard

    I cant seem to get his paw anywhere near water to clean the wound!

  5. Vimoo

    Thanks for this!! My pitty just tore off his dew claw while playing around and I didn’t even notice it until a little bit later on when I saw blood on his paw. I was worried it was serious but after doing some research I realized it was not a big deal. I have been putting Neosporin and bandaging it for 2 days now. I also give him Metacam for pain and inflammation relief. I was just wondering how long it would take to heal and for the nail to grow back. He’s very high energy and I want to let him run around and play as soon as possible.

  6. Sas

    My Bulldog has ripped his dewclaw. The bleeding has stopped and he’s not bothered with it at all. This site has put my mind at rest ( was going to rush him to the vets), He let me bathe it no pain. But he is pretty indestructible .

  7. tina

    my 9 month boxer dew claw came completely off she had no bleeding she did it whilst playing with other dog my partner notice it the next morning when he stroked her paw and she yelped iv kept a close eye on it and its heeling nicely its day 2 since we noticed she licks it to keep it clean she has been absolutely fine still her usual bouncy self eating fine ect its been a great help finding this page and reading the process from when it happens to how long it takes to grow back she is only being lead walked for now im keeping a very close eye on it any sign of infection or swelling she will be straight to the vets at the moment its fine x

  8. Tommy Kay

    A sensible and well-written page. Thanks for writing it, and for adding the updates.

  9. Junior tore off a toenail and the nerve is exposed. The nail is missing to the hairline, but the complete nerve is still on !! I was able to get bleeding stopped. Have put antibiotic on nerve 3x a day, he won’t leave a bandage on. Will the nerve just dry up as the nail regrows from nail bed ? Unable to take him to the vet.

  10. JAK

    Beware of giving a Labrador or Lab cross aspirin. I poisoned my Lab with an aspirin when he was sore after an agility competition. He was vomiting all over the motel room. I gave him water and bread to ease his stomach and he came out OK. I found out later that Labs have this sensitivity.

  11. Ghost

    I just noticed it tonight on the walk. My pitbull’s dewclaw is still attached but the quick is exposed. When we got home, I gave her a warm bath and let her feet soak in the warm water with a bit of soap. She had to wear the muzzle because she kept trying to nip me. It’s very painful for her. If I touch it slightly she whines. I put Biocaine – it’s medicated cream specifically for pets – on it and lightly wrapped it in gauze but she took the gauze off. She keeps trying to lick it and I don’t know what to do. It’s not bleeding but the vets aren’t open til Monday. I am not sure if I should just let her lick it or pull it off or do whatever she has to and then take care of it. It only hurts when it is touched. Other than that she is running, jumping and playing. If you look at the nail, you will not see the bloodline under the dewclaw because it is sticking out from under it.

  12. Linda

    Thank you for posting your experience. My Ajax snapped off most of his duclaw last Sunday, emergency vet snapped off the nail and said it didn’t hurt the quick so she didn’t even charge me. Tonight he bumped his nail and it popped the nail up exposing the bulging quick. I cleaned and bandaged, but bandage was
    More irritating than the injury- he is running n playing, until he bumps it, then he yelps n licks it. I’ll take him to vet in the am just to b on the safe side (I’m a hospice nurse n can handle people fine, but animals are not my specialty- I get too emotional ). So glad your dog healed well from this injury

    • gigi

      Don’t Linda worry the dew claws pretty much heal themselves. The bad news is this can happen again. Dogs run and play ruff. Sometimes it is better to let the dog lick and take care of the wound themselves. Bandages or bandaids just don’t work. A little Neosporin sometimes helps too.

  13. trisha

    my baby girl is a chihuahua, and she was playing tug-war with some young kids, i guess not realizing how are or ruff they were playing, but its a rope (a dogs toy), and Daisy would wrap both hands around it, put a grip ,pulling it, while they hold it straight up, but anyway it ripe the nail all the way off, it bled right much, and i could tell she was in pain, a good 3-4 days, but she would steady lick it, but the day afterwards, it had already started growing back, to me that was fast, but its been now 6 months, and now she cant jump up on my bed, which its a good height, but always b4, barley jumps up to counch, it seems like its messed her up from jumpin, and now when tug-war is played, she will grab, but wont hold it 4 long, sometimes she will start to grip with her claws, and pull away, she hasnt forgot what happen, but my concern is what affect did it do to her jumping up???

  14. Angel

    My GSD snapped his front nail while playing. The rest broke off and the quick is exposed. He keeps eating the band-aides off. He is still walking and running normally. (keeping him indoors for the next few weeks.)
    Is there anything else I can do to speed up the process of healing?
    I have been cleaning it & keeping his activities to a minimal.
    Thank you! :)

  15. Remo

    Very helpful article! Thank you very much for sharing this information. My dog tore one of her dew claws this past Thursday when she was playing. It was bleeding but it did not seem to bother her that much, the hardest part was trying to keep her off the carpeting until the bleeding stopped. Than last night (Saturday) she was playing, the injured claw got snagged once again and got to torn even worse! About an hour after we bandaged it up, she tore her bandage off only to reveal that her dew claw had now fallen off! At first I freaked out, I honestly did not know what to do at that point and was debating whether or not to take her to the 24 hour emergency vet downtown. But, she seemed to be doing a lot better now that the broken claw had finally fell off. There is still a little part sticking out of her leg (underneath the actual dew claw) where the claw did not break but since the broken part of the claw has now fallen off, she seems to be doing a lot better and the bleeding has completely stopped.

    I will continue to monitor it, keep the wound clean, and apply Neosporin, and hopefully I will be able to avoid a trip to the vet. I noticed in your article you used salt water to clean Tuckers wound, does it clean the wound better or have any benefits? I know it probably hurts putting salt water on an open wound.

    Thanks again.

  16. gigi

    I thank your website for all the info on dog ripping dewclaw. It helped relieve my own worries about my dog’s injuries. Sometimes the best is to let the dog care for their wounds as mine did by licking them. A ripped dew claw ( or both) is very painful. I did give her some Previcox (which I had) for pain according to weight. I didn’t have to see a Vet merely made a call to verify the Med amount. This saved me a Vet bill which at that time I could not afford. My dog Belle’s dew claws did fall out about a week later and they have since grown back. Belle rarely jumps the fence now. I think she has only gotten out once since the accident. I am sure it is a painful memory and lessson for her.

  17. Heather

    My dog broke her dew claw, it’s split in half with a very small sliver of nail on one side. The quick is exposed & after a day it’s still bleeding slightly. Should I cut the nail as close to the quick as I possibly can? Will that give her some relief & allow the new nail to grow back as one piece or should I wait to see if it falls off?

  18. admin

    Glad this article was able to help you all with some of your questions! Tucker again ripped off one of his dew claws tearing around with some doggy buddies. Same thing again with regard to treatment and recovery, and he is doing fine!

  19. april

    our boxer came to us missing a dew claw, and his other dew claw he bites off every fee months, it keeps on growing back in!
    I guess it bothers them otherwise how would they know to bite it?!

    • admin

      Wow – I’ve never heard of a dog biting their own dew claw off! How old is your dog? I know there is a dew claw removal surgery that they usually perform on younger dogs – maybe it’s something to look into if your dog is very bothered by it…

  20. Becky Cheney

    Is baby aspirin a blood thinner? Will it cause more bleeding?

    • admin

      Aspirin will cause the blood to thin and will increase the time it takes to clot. If you’re giving your dog aspirin it’s recommended you consult with your veterinarian to ensure you are using the proper dosage.

  21. gigi

    My dog Belle just ripped both her front dew claws this morning while fence jumping. She is half Boxer and this breed can easily jump a 6 foot fence. I can’t keep her from coming and going as of yet but this will surely keep her home now. The claws are both sticking out away from her legs. I had to hose her legs off outside she was covered in mud(it had rained earlier)and then saw the injury. It didn’t bleed much and since she has been licking them they seem to be better. I also put neosporin on them. She is eating and drinking water.The area is sore because she lifts up one and than the other foot.I have a call in to my Vet to see what I can give her for pain. It is good to know that they will heal on their own and I don’t have to take her in and have a vet bill I can’t afford right now. This was very helpful info for me.

  22. angel

    My German Shepherd was fence fighting and got her dew claw caught in the fence and tore it out. the nail was exactly as your dogs was (sticking stright out from her leg). it was bleeding a lot so i put pressure on it got it to stop and bandaged it with gause. i took her to the vet and he was very nice. he said that she had fractured it and it needed to be removed.he wanted $400 and im in college so i dont have that much money. he said that if it was broken horizontally that it could heal with care at home but if it was broken verticly it would just keep breaking as it grew. so he showed me how to wrap it and gave me some things to use and we took her far she is doing good,walking and jumping. when i change her bandage it is always full of blood and i change it every 1-2 days.yesterday i went to change it and when i got it all cut off the dew claw was completly off and further down her paw. today she is doing fine i havent changed it yet but i dont see anyblood soaking through the bandage. hope this helps others that this happens to, and thank you for your help also.

  23. kristan

    was the dew claw dangingling? My lab did this last night, and her dew is turned almost sideways, but it’s not dangingling, it seems kind of firm. I think she’s in some pain as she hid under the baby’s crib and she never does that. She never really fusses, very laid back dog, but you can tell she’s very uncomfortable. I’m just wondering if it’ll die off and fall off in a few days, or if it’s firm like this, do we have to have it done. Our vet appt. is at 12:45 and I just know we won’t be able to afford what they prob. want to do.

  24. kim

    great advice beter than most of the websites we ave a staffy got him a new run an he tried 2 jump out he tore his dew claw i got bit worried bout it so brought him 2 the vet an cost me £30 4 an antibiotic an lampshade 4 his head which he hates so took it of him the claw has fallen of now naturly but the nerve is exposed he still on the antibiotic so fink i will jus keep it clean an let nature work as he dsnt lyk u fuzzin rnd it lol

  25. Jolie

    Thank you so much for your information- it was really helpful. My greyhound ripped his claw tonight while he was outside.

  26. Kali

    what type of antibiotic ointment did you use and where did you get it? mY dog has a dew claw infection, the nail still seems to be in tact but it is really swollen and irritated.

  27. admin

    Tucker’s nail was broken horizontally and vertically – it split up the side as well as broke across the entire nail.

  28. terr

    Was Tucker’s nail broken horizontally or vertically? Terri

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