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My dog has a broken claw: what to do?

It is quite common for dogs to tear or break a claw. It is an accident that leads to bleeding and pain and therefore, lameness. More rarely, it can be a pathological damage of the claw called onyxis. Whatever the origin, a problem with a claw requires the dog to be treated by a veterinarian in most cases. While waiting for the consultation, the owner must disinfect the affected area by taking certain precautions because his dog may not let himself be treated.

Broken claw in a dog: mandatory disinfection

A broken or torn claw causes significant bleeding as soon as the vascularized part is affected. You must immediately take a gauze and soak it with a non-stinging antiseptic (such as diluted chlorhexidine) to disinfect the injured area. It is then necessary to equip the animal with a collar or an inflatable collar so that it cannot lick itself. Disinfection should be done twice a day for at least three days. However, if the bleeding does not stop, it warrants a quick consultation.

You should be very careful when disinfecting your dog's broken claw, even if the animal is usually gentle and patient. The pain can considerably modify his behavior, and the nicest dog can bite, even his owner. If there is any doubt, it is better to take precautions. For example, you can put a muzzle on your pet for the time of the treatment.

Broken claw: how to stop the bleeding?

While waiting to take your dog to the veterinarian's office, you must stop the bleeding that follows the breaking of a claw, by using :
  • Either a hemostatic powder that can be obtained in a pharmacy,
  • Or a stick of silver nitrate.
It is better to always have some in the first aid kit of your dog. Otherwise, while waiting to go to the veterinarian, you can use cornstarch if you only have it on hand. Simply sprinkle it on the bleeding area, then put a clean, dry cloth on top and apply pressure.

Torn claw: when removal of the claw is necessary

Sometimes, veterinary intervention is absolutely necessary. This is the case when the claw has been completely torn off or if it is broken at the base of a finger. The removal of the claw is necessary. The operation is performed after the dog is sedated. It has two objectives:
  • To promote the normal regrowth of the torn claw,
  • To avoid infection, to note if the master delayed to consult the veterinarian, the animal can be placed under antibiotic.
The surgical act lasts only a few minutes. The veterinarian then puts a bandage that the dog will have to keep for more or less 24 hours. Afterwards, a collar is put on the animal and it must be kept on for four to seven days. For walks, it is useful to put a boot on the dog.

Finally, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed in the most serious cases.

How to prevent the dog from breaking a claw?

The dog is more likely to break its nails when they are too long. It is therefore important to trim them regularly, as we do with our nails (well, if we do not suffer from onychophagy!). Note that in most cases, it is the dewclaw that is the most exposed to breakage because it is not in contact with the ground and therefore does not wear out. To trim your dog's nails, proceed as follows:
  • Clean the dog's paws with soap and water, for example in the bathtub, using a small soft bristle brush like a nail brush for the nails. Rinse well and dry.
  • Proceed foot by foot, using either a claw trimmer, an accessory perfectly adapted to small dogs, or an electric file, preferable for large dogs.
  • Locate the living area of each claw (including the dewclaw) so as not to cut or file too short. This is the vascularized part that should not be touched. It can be identified by a dark spot in the center of each claw. A cut that is too severe can lead to bleeding that must be stopped immediately with a compress soaked in cold water or with a bandage that the dog must keep for a few hours.
A dog that goes out every day and spends enough time running in the nature, on the tar, or scratching the ground wears out its claws (except the dewclaw as we have seen before). Some dogs do not really need their master to intervene. On the other hand, in sedentary dogs, the claws do not wear out much. Therefore, these animals are more likely to break a claw than others if they are not regularly cared for. It is recommended to have your dog's nails cleaned by a veterinarian or a groomer every two months.