If you’re reading this, chances are you might be concerned about your pup’s dew claw. While the dew claw may seem like a minor appendage, it can cause great pain and discomfort to your dog if it’s injured or dislocated. So, how can you tell if a dew claw is dislocated?
When a dew claw becomes dislocated, it will look out of place or swollen, but the most visible sign of a dislocated dew claw is if your dog experiences pain to the touch. If you suspect your dog has a dislocated or injured dew claw, it’s best to consult your veterinarian right away.
While that’s the simple answer, a dislocated dew claw can be very serious. Here’s what you need to know about dew claws and how to tell if a dew claw is dislocated or not, from start to finish.
Loving and caring for your dog includes familiarizing yourself with their history, behavior, and even their anatomy. Everyone wants to be a great dog owner. However, being a stellar pet parent requires paying attention to any and all minor parts of your pup. That includes showing the dew claw some extra love.
Before scrolling down this article, “How to Tell if a Dew Claw is Dislocated,” check out: How to Tell if Your Dog Has a Broken Leg? Vet Advice! (2023) and How to Stop Your Dog From Digging! (2023).
But Wait, What Exactly is a Dew Claw?
There’s a lot of confusion in the dog world about the dew claw is, if it serves any real purpose, and if it’s even necessary. The dew claw is a vestigial digit on a dog’s legs. It may look like it doesn’t serve a purpose, and it partially doesn’t, but it’s still a sensitive area to your pooch.
A dew claw helps your dog stabilize things to chew on, like toys or edible chews. It helps stabilize your dog’s joints when they run, jump, turn, and spin. They’re also helpful in digging and scratching. Often, dogs will chew or gnaw at their dew claws when bored, prompting injury or dislocation.
Some breeds only possess dew claws on their front legs, while other dogs possess dew claws on their front and back legs. This varies from dog to dog, so don’t be alarmed if your pup only has dew claws on their front legs, or has them on both their front and back legs. Some dogs even have double dew claws!
Now that we’ve established what a dew claw is, here’s how to tell if your dog’s dew claw is dislocated and what you need to know about it.
Signs and Symptoms Your Dog’s Dew Claw is Dislocated
A dew claw injury can be severe if it’s not treated immediately and with proper veterinary care, especially if it’s dislocated. A dislocated dew claw can be incredibly painful and cause physical agony. The telltale sign is if it looks out of place and your dog seems to be in pain.
While dew claw injuries are rare, they do happen. One of the most common dew claw injuries is when it becomes dislocated. However, dew claws can also break, split, or become ingrown, infected, or misaligned. Since dislocations happen, it’s important to know the signs.
Here are the top signs and symptoms of a dislocated dew claw.
Your Dog is Avoiding Putting Weight on One of Their Paws
If you notice your dog avoids putting weight on one of their paws, then there’s a good chance the dew claw might be dislocated if you’ve checked for other injuries.
This is one of the first telltale signs you’ll see. If you notice your pup limping or holding one paw in the air, be sure to check their dew claw and take them to the vet right away to rule out or treat serious injury.
The Dew Claw is Swollen or Inflamed
Another telltale sign your dog’s dew claw is dislocated is if it looks swollen or inflamed. If it’s red or considerably larger than usual, then it’s probably dislocated, or at the very least, injured.
There’s always a risk for dew claw injury, especially in active dogs when running, jumping, or playing. If the dew claw looks swollen or inflamed, it’s a good time to go see your vet.
The Dew Claw is Bleeding or Broken
If you notice your dog’s dew claw is bleeding or broken, be sure to seek veterinary medical attention immediately. Not only is this a surefire sign of a dislocated dew claw, it’s also indicative of serious injury and potential infection.
Every dog nail contains something called a ‘quick,’ which is a term for the blood vessel and nerves present in a dog’s nail. The dew claw also contains a quick. When injured, it can lead to nerve damage and infection if not treated quickly.
Your Dog is Repeatedly Licking the Dew Claw
Repetitive licking can be a sign of anxiety, but it can also be indicative of pain. If your dog repeatedly licks their dew claw, they might be in serious pain due to a dislocation.
If the licking seems excessive, it’s probably a good idea to take your pup to the vet as soon as possible. Assuming it it isn’t a dislocated dew claw, it could be a sign of an infection, parasites, allergies, or anxiety.
Taking Your Pup to the Vet
As mentioned, the first thing needed to diagnose and treat a dislocated dew claw is to take your pup to the vet. Since the majority of nail issues require delicate care and are prone to infections, it’s best to get medical help, especially if the dew claw is dislocated.
If the dew claw is truly dislocated, X-rays could be necessary for a proper diagnosis. In most cases, a veterinarian will be able to feel the dew claw to tell. If your dog is anxious, your veterinarian may sedate them.
Getting a proper diagnosis is key to effectively treating a dislocated or injured dew claw. Preparing your dog for a trip to the vet is critical to ensuring the visit goes over smoothly.
Here are tips to make sure your vet visit goes smoothly:
- Use it as a chance for socialization: Long-term socialization has many benefits for your dog, including reduced behavioral aggression, stress, and separation anxiety. When your dog is less stressed, they’re less prone to injuring themselves.
- Alert the staff of your dog’s condition ahead of time: If your dog is in severe pain and is sensitive to touch, take the time to let the staff of your veterinarian’s office know. It can help them properly prep.
- Stay strong and calm for your dog: It’s no secret that dogs are emotional creatures. They can pick up on energy easily. Staying calm, cool, and collected for your dog during their vet visit will help them relax.
Vet visits don’t have to be stressful. As long as you’re taking the proper precautionary steps, staying calm, and putting trust in your veterinarian, the visit will go well. Feeling better starts with a trip to the vet. Remember, if a dislocated dew claw will require immediate veterinary attention, care, and treatment.
Treatment for a Dislocated Dew Claw
After bringing your pup to the vet, they may recommend corrective surgery or medication, depending on the severity of the dislocation. Your veterinarian may also remove damaged nails or provide antibiotics. Treatment may vary from injury to injury.
If you can’t get your dog to the vet immediately, make sure you’re taking proper precautions to prevent infection. Gently cleansing and regularly sanitizing the area can help prevent bacteria or fungus from affecting the afflicted area.
Applying a dressing can keep the area clean and sanitary, as long as you change it regularly. If your dog insists on licking or fussing with the affected dew claw, consider investing in a cone to prevent further injury.
How to Prevent a Dislocated Dew Claw
Prevention is a core and integral part of treatment. Whether your dog has had a recent injury or you’re worried about potential injury, preventing a dislocated dew claw can spare pain and the anxiety of a veterinary visit. Preventing a dislocated dew claw requires equal parts supervision and careful measures.
Here are our top tips for preventing an injured or dislocated dew claw:
- Trim the nail regularly: In general, it’s best to aim to trim your dog’s nails once a month. Regularly trimming nails can prevent the nail from snagging on things and ultimately becoming dislocated.
- Supervise playtime and exercise: While dew claws might seem unnecessary, dogs use them when playing and exercising, as previously mentioned. If you’re concerned about a dislocated dew claw, be sure to keep an eye on your pup while they chew their toys or run around the yard.
- Examine the dew claw frequently: The best thing you can do to prevent a dislocated dew claw is to examine the area frequently to make sure there’s no injury.
Do Not Remove Your Dog’s Dew Claws
While the dew claw may seem like it serves no purpose, removing it is an unnecessary amputation. Unless there’s a medically sound reason to remove your dog’s dew claws, such as severe injury or malformation, it’s recommended to keep them intact.
Dew claw removal requires anesthesia, pain medication, bandaging, activity restrictions, and wearing a cone. The surgical process and recovery can be intensive and aren’t advised unless absolutely medically necessary. Besides, your dog’s dew claws are part of who they are.
Frequently Asked Questions
While most dew claw injuries can and will heal by themselves, it’s best to always consult your veterinarian at the first sight of a potential injury. Delaying the process can result in infection or further injury.
Depending on the severity of the injury, your vet may recommend corrective surgery or a simple dressing and rest. Most of the time, they will recommend pain medication for a dislocated dew claw.
While a vet can professionally diagnose a broken dew claw, some telltale signs include limping, licking the area, bleeding, swelling, inflammation, and visible pain.
If you notice your dog’s dew claw visibly hanging off, take them to your local emergency pet hospital right away. Should the nail become infected or further injured, it can cause severe nerve damage or potential illness.
Conclusion for “How to Tell if a Dew Claw is Dislocated”
All in all, dew claw injuries are serious and can cause extreme physical pain. This seemingly unnecessary little appendage is a part of your pup and requires care just like any other part of the body.
Part of keeping your dog happy and healthy requires paying attention to their paws and dew claws. After all, a healthy pup is a happy pup.
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Learn more about this topic by watching “Broken Nail. How a Vet Fixes a Broken Dog Nail With Dr. Dan” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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