The Dew Claw
If your dog is licking its dewclaw, it could indicate a problem. Dogs like to attend to an injury just like humans do quickly. For example, we will promptly try to stop the bleeding, look for a plaster, and bandage the wound when we cut our finger.
Dogs also quickly attend to injuries such as an injured dewclaw by trying to lick it as this is an attempt at cleansing and healing through their saliva properties.
Why Is My Dog Licking Their Dew Claw?
Dogs will lick their dewclaw if it irritates them. Irritation can be caused by being too long and catching on things, being split, or due to infection within the nailbed due to allergies or repetitive licking.
If your dog has caused an injury to their dewclaw, their natural reaction is to lick the wound. Antibacterial properties are found in their saliva, which explains this, but saliva can often do more harm than good.
Licking is a way of removing dirt or foreign substances from a wound. In the case of a dewclaw, this is unlikely to help. An infection can be caused due to foreign bodies existing in the nail bed, which can be caused by repetitive licking.
What Does It Mean When a Dog Licks Something?
If your dog licks you, it probably means they want something you have or want your attention, or you taste a bit salty, and they like it! However, dogs licking other areas can have different reasons behind the action. Sometimes, dogs could lick themselves to groom their fur, remove some dirt, or just out of pure boredom. It is the unusual, persistent licking you need to watch out for.
Irritated skin, a reaction to something or an injury such as damaging the dewclaw are all good reasons for a dog suddenly showing attention to an area. It usually starts with their repetitive licking. They may feel it soothes the area or is helping to repair an injury, but it is usually causing the problem to get worse and potentially infected. You should pay attention to any unusual licking as this is a quick and clear sign that something is wrong, and if they are licking their dewclaw, then there is most likely a dewclaw injury.
What Is the Purpose of a Dew Claw on a Dog?
The dewclaw is essentially a toenail on the inside of the front legs. Its purpose is to act as the thumb. This shows that it's convenient to have a dewclaw remain attached and healthy. In addition, it's excellent at providing that little bit of extra grip they may need when holding something such as a chew.
Did you know: Some dog breeds have dewclaws on all of their legs, and some even have double dewclaws on their back legs.
The dewclaw doesn't touch the ground and might appear useless. Still, if you have ever seen your dog holding a chew whilst they are biting it, they are probably using their dewclaw, and even when out roaming in the wild or on dog adventure holidays with you, they will use them for many other tasks too.
The Catahoula Leopard dog can climb trees and put their dewclaws to good use when doing so!
Can a Dog Break Their Dewclaw?
Dogs can break their dewclaw, and you will notice this by licking it a lot. The dewclaw is utilised to stabilise the lower joint when your dog is in motion at a reasonable speed, such as jogging or running.
When they make sharp turns, especially if they love zoomies, the dewclaw will again come in to prevent excessive torque on the limb as they turn. It's usually at these points when on some rough ground that they can catch the dewclaw and cause a dewclaw injury.
What Do I Do If My Dog's Dew Claw Is Bleeding?
Use a blood stop coagulate powder to stop the bleeding as soon as it is in contact with the blood. Unless you are very confident with handling a broken dewclaw, my advice is to go to the vets for some professional treatment swiftly. They will use some blood stop powder and then work to either bandage up the dewclaw or remove it if required.
Can a Dewclaw Get Infected by Dogs Licking the Area?
The nailbed where the dewclaw sits can get infected by your dog licking an open area. Swelling and redness around the nailbed and any puss are signs of infection.
Dirt can get between the dewclaw nail and the nailbed after a break or some damage. This dirt can cause the area to become sore, which will cause your dog to lick the area, and the saliva plus dirt and other foreign objects can cause the nailbed to become infected. Any infection will need to be cleaned out, and then a course of antibiotics will be required to clear up the infection.
Is a Broken Dewclaw an Emergency?
Dewclaw injuries can require a vets attention and be deemed as an emergency. For example, a broken dewclaw can repair itself with some rest and healing, but if there is blood, and your dog shows signs of discomfort, repetitive licking, and you see any signs of infection. An emergency visit to the vet is required.
To conclude, your dog will lick their dewclaw if it causes them any discomfort or pain and can be a sign of an injury or, worse, an infection. If the dewclaw is bleeding heavy or showing signs of infection, you should visit your vet immediately.
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