What to consider if your dog has a dew claw injury
My friend Hope recently had a dew claw injury, and after finding out how much pain she was in, I knew I must write about it!
Do you know what the dew claw is? On your dog’s front paws, the dew claw is the nail that is located on the side of the paw, not at the top with the other four nails. Since dogs are active creatures, it’s easy for a nail to get caught onto something. Depending on the speed or pressure put onto the dew claw, it could splinter, separate from the paw, or even possibly completely break off.
When I asked Hope how her injury happened, she couldn’t quite articulate it. However, her human mom reported that Hope had been doing a lot of digging near the fence, and suddenly there was yelping, limping, and even worse: a lot of blood. It was obvious that Hope was hurt, but she wasn’t giving her parents an easy time figure out what had happened. After the bleeding seemed to stop, and she could be cleaned up, it became more apparent what had happened. Hope’s dew claw on her front right paw became dislocated, and everyone made an emergency trip to the veterinarian’s office.
I didn’t know this at the time, but I’ve learned that dew claws are more susceptible to injury than other nails, as they’re more loosely attached. Also, it’s always important to keep your dog’s nails trimmed, as long or overgrown nails are more likely to get a dew claw injury. In Hope’s situation, it was obvious to her family that she had a dew claw injury. In some cases, this may be less noticeable.
Here are a few things to look out for if you’re suspicious that your dog hurt her dew claw.
Is she favoring one foot or limping? While you may think favoring could mean that she hurt her leg or paw, it could mean she damaged a nail.
Have you noticed that your dog is licking her paw more often than usual? This could indicate an injury, as well.
Is there blood or a visibly swollen or dislocated nail? Those are obvious signs that something may be wrong with your dog’s dew claw.
If your dog has a dew claw injury, you should make an emergency appointment at her veterinarian’s office. The treatment will depend on the type of injury. In many cases, it’s likely the dew claw will be completely removed and then bandaged. This is exactly what happened to Hope. She was given some pain medicine and sent home right after the procedure to rest. Hope’s a licker, so her veterinarian was sure she was going to need a cone collar to protect her paw from her incessant licking, but she ended up being so well behaved.
Finally, if your dog has been treated for a dew claw injury, you’ll need to examine her bandages daily (or as often as the veterinarian recommends) for signs of infection. If you notice excessive swelling, pus, or bleeding, it might mean you need to take an additional trip to the vet’s office. Remember, infections can spread, so keeping her injury clean is the best way to nurse her back to health again.
Has your dog ever experienced a dew claw injury? Let us know how you handled it in the comments section!
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