Dew Claw Care
Ever wondered what that little claw on your dog’s front and hind legs are? This little ‘thumb’ can become quite troublesome for some pooches. We take a look at how you can care for your dog’s dew claws and what to do if they become injured.
For some pet’s the dreaded dew claw can cause endless pain and discomfort. For some pet’s removal under anaesthetic is the only way to prevent further problems. Luckily, however, with good management many dogs skip through life with minimal issues when it comes to their dew claws.
Specialist Small Animal Surgeon Dr Sarah Goldsmid (BVSc, MVetClinStud, FACVSc) from the Animal Referral Hospital explains what a dew claw is and why they can sometimes cause problems;
“Dew claws can be found on most front feet of dogs and some back feet, they do not necessarily cause any problems,” she says. “They can also have double dew claws and the dew claws can be firmly attached with a bony articulation, or only held on with soft tissue and be easily moved around.”
Dew claws that become caught on something, such as a fence or another dog during play, can cause problems and pain. Other common problems include:
- Torn Nail
- In-growing Nail
If you notice your pets dew claw is inflamed or injured a trip to the veterinary clinic is in order. If the area is bleeding and torn, apply pressure and call the clinic for advice. Do not attempt to cut or pull the nail.
The best way to prevent problems is to get into a good regime of grooming. Regularly check your dog’s nails and, keep them short right from puppyhood. If you are not sure how to correctly and safely clip your dog’s nails ask your local veterinary to show you on your next visit.
“Get them used to having their feet touched and handled from a young puppy, that way they will not be so reactive later when then nails are clipped,” Dr Goldsmid recommends. “If they have white nails, it is easier to see the ‘quick’ and avoid cutting the nail too short and causing pain and/or bleeding. A dark nail is harder to judge the right length to trim.”
If you are not confident trimming your pet’s nails ask a professional to help. Remembering that if you accidentally hurt your pet during a nail-trim it will be much harder to perform the needed pedicure next time around! Also, always ensure you use good quality sharp nail clippers to make the whole process quick and easy.
The problem with dew claws is that they do not go through the natural process of filing that your dog will do with their other nails. This can see them grow to epic proportions! So, keeping them short is very important. This can prevent the claw becoming caught and ripping in many situations. Overgrown dew claws can also become ingrown that can lead to infection and pain.
“Training your pet from a young age to let you examine their feet is a big help,” Dr Goldsmid says. “Dogs are often very sensitive about their feet being touched, so anything to make this process easier is a good idea.”
Also perform regular checks of your pet’s nails and feet. Look for any swelling around the nailbed or painful areas.