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How to Treat a Broken Dew Claw

Broken dew claws bleed and cause pain if the break exposes the bundle of tender flesh and blood vessels in the centre of the nail known as the quick. Dew claws are located on the inside a dog's leg slightly above the paw and are similar to your thumb. Not all dogs have dew claws, as some breeders choose to remove them when puppies are just a few days old. If your dog has dew claws they may be injured by snagging on fabric, brush or other hazards. First aid and possible vet treatment will help your pup recover from this painful injury.

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  1. Apply gentle but firm pressure to the nail area by pressing a soft towel or non-stick gauze over the torn nail until bleeding stops. If that is painful for your dog, styptic powders or pencils, available from most pet shops, can help stop bleeding when daubed over the area. Applying cornflour or flour may also curb bleeding in a pinch.

  2. Clean the area with lukewarm water. Smooth a thin layer of antibiotic ointment over the injured area. If your dog has long hair you may need to cut away some of the hair to access the injured claw.

  3. Position a non-stick gauze square over the torn nail and loosely secure it to the leg with a stretchy gauze by wrapping it around the leg. Overlap each wrap layer by one third until the bandage extends an about an inch above and below the injured nail area.

  4. Cover the gauze with a layer of stretchy self-adhesive bandage material. Alternatively, you can use a stretchy cloth athletic bandage and cut it to the right size.

  5. Secure the outer layer of the bandage to itself with a small piece of tape. A loose circle of tape around the top of the bandage, just touching your dog's fur, can help hold the bandage up. Only use extra tape around the top if necessary as it will be painful to remove later.

  6. Tip

    Apply the bandage loosely to avoid cutting off circulation to your dog's foot. Swelling above or below the bandage is a sign that it's too tight. Replace the bandage daily, or as recommended by your vet, and examine the injured nail for signs of infection (pus, discolouration, or swelling). Keep nails, especially dew claws, trimmed to reduce future breakage. If your dog chews on the broken claw, ask your vet about applying an Elizabethan (lamp shade) collar.


    Broken dew claws may require removal, antibiotics or other veterinary care. Call your veterinarian for advice. Even your dog may bite when in pain and broken dew claws can be extremely painful. Do not attempt to rip or cut off dangling nails as this may make it worse and is very painful. Apply the bandage to hold the nail in place and visit your vet if removal is indicated.

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Things You'll Need

  • Styptic powder or pencil
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Non-stick gauze pad
  • Scissors
  • Gauze roll
  • Self-adhesive bandage
  • Bandage tape

About the Author

Ruth Anne Nelson has worked as a writer since 2008 and covers numerous topics ranging from health care to video games. She has published works in print and online media including "MaryJanesFarm" magazine and "LandEscapes Literary and Arts Journal." Nelson has a B.A. in English from Washington State University and is a certified registered central services technician.

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