Dogs with broken dew claws should see a veterinarian immediately. Vets treat a broken dew claw by removing any remaining nail, stopping the bleeding and providing pain relief to the dog. They also ensure that the wound is properly cleaned and bandaged.
If it's not possible to see a vet immediately, dog owners can provide basic first aid for the damaged nail. Unfortunately, there is no safe way to relieve the pet's pain while treating a broken dew claw at home. Owners should start by rinsing the dog's leg with warm water to clean the nail and the surrounding area. Next, owners must remove any remaining pieces of broken nail, ideally with a dog nail clipper. The next step is stopping the bleeding. Pet first-aid kits often come with styptic powder, a substance that cauterizes the wound. Owners can apply the powder to the broken nail. Once the bleeding stops, antibiotic ointment is applied to the nail and it is covered with a bandage to keep it clean. In a pinch, owners can put a human sock on the dog's leg to keep the broken dew claw covered until the animal can see a vet.
Owners may want to consider permanent dew claw removal for dogs who routinely experience breaks, splits or damages. Dew claw removal is a controversial surgery when done for cosmetic reasons. However, the procedure is less dangerous than repeatedly and unexpectedly breaking a dew claw.