Dew claws are like purposeless canine thumbnails. They grow a bit further up the leg than other claws, usually on the backs of the front legs. They don't touch the ground when your dog stands or walks, but they can when she runs. Removal may be advised for deformed or poorly attached dew claws; or you may elect to remove them from a sporting dog, who might rip one during a chase. Otherwise, dew claws are best left alone. Your dog's likely to lick the site if one's removed, and that can impede healing and possibly cause irritation or infection.
Distract your pet with attention and affection when she starts licking the sites of her removed dew claws. Play with her, take her for a walk, give her a favorite toy or buy her a new puzzle toy or two.
Cover the sites of the removed dew claws with bandages. Place waterproof bandage covers over them when you're going out for walks if it's wet outside, and remove the covers when the dog's back inside; they prevent the surgical wounds beneath the bandages from breathing.
Change the bandages daily or if they become soiled. Keep replacing them as necessary until the surgical wounds heal, or as your vet recommends.
Spray the sites and the areas around the sites, or the bandages, with a commercial anti-lick product for dogs. Read labels carefully to determine it's safe to use a given product. Many cannot be applied directly to wounds without stinging or causing other problems; but increasingly, products are becoming available that are good to use on or around wounds.
Put an Elizabethan or inflatable collar on your dog if you just can't keep her away from the sites of the removed dew claws or the bandages. Elizabethan collars can be a bit scary for dogs and make mobility a challenge, though, so stop using one if it's a problem for your pet, after you consult your vet. Inflatable collars are often better, since they don't enclose the entire head and limit vision. However, cheaper ones are prone to punctures, and they aren't always adequate to stop a long-snout dog from managing to lick the dew claw sites.
Items You Will Need
- Waterproof bandage covers
- Anti-lick spray
- Elizabethan or inflatable collar
- While dog saliva does possess some mild antibacterial action, it's a myth that licking and dog saliva are good for wounds.
- Monitor the site of your dog's removed dew claws for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling or discharge. See your vet if you suspect an infection.
- Dean Golja/Digital Vision/Getty Images