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My Dog Drags His Back Paws Damaging His Nails and Skin. What Should I Do?

My Dog Drags His Back Paws Damaging His Nails and Skin. What Should I Do?

You might have noticed your dog dragging one or both back paws, damaging his nails and making them much shorter, sometimes even going down to the quick.

You might have noticed bleeding on the paw skin, as your dog's paw brushes along the ground on the top side removing some of their skin and fur. Dragging can make your dog wobble and unsteady on their feet.

If your dog is dragging their rear paws, it is likely they have a medical condition called Paw Knuckling. It is important to read more about paw knuckling so you are fully equipped to help your dog.

Read about Paw Knuckling here - Paw Knuckling: Causes, Prevention and How to Help at Home

Paw knuckling can be a secondary condition of a primary illness or disease. Often paw knuckling is the first sign of a neurological condition we see a lot of called Degenerative Myelopathy.

You can help your dog correct their paw position with a knuckling brace, or you can choose to protect your dog's paw skin and nails with a knuckling boot. Read on to see the options below.

Story of Lucky, the pug

Lucky started to show signs of wobbling when he went walking in the park. His owner noticed one of his rear paws no longer stood flat on the floor, this was the first sign something was different. Lucky was diagnosed with paw knuckling and now uses a Maximus PawsUp brace which you can read more about below.

How to Help Rear Paw Knuckling:

Get your vet to confirm your dog has paw knuckling. Once it is confirmed, you might want to get a brace to help your dog walk normally again.

Read the options below to see what will suit your dog best

1. Protective Rubber Boots (pictured below)

Protect the skin and stop the nails getting shorter. Boots are a quick fix and will protect the skin and nails from further damage. Boots are best for dogs with mild paw knuckling. If your dog has severe paw knuckling and puts on a boot, you will find it swivels and can become useless.

We often recommend the WagWear boots. If you opt for the Mojave WagWear Boots (like this photo below), you will find these boots have holes in them for ventilation so your dog paws don't get sweaty while they wear the dog knuckling boots.

  • Good protection
  • Helps nails and skin
  • Light and easy to wash / use

Find protective knuckling boots here

2. Rear Leg Splint (pictured below)

If your dog has light to moderate knuckling, you might also want to look at a splint. We recommend splints with a paw cup section which will hold the paw flat again. Be careful not to get heavy splints or a full leg splint, as your dog doesn't need to carry the full weight of a splint, it only needs the bottom part in the paw area.

  • Includes paw cup
  • Holds paw flat
  • Good for light or moderate knuckling

Find rear splints here

3. Maximus PawsUp (pictured below)

Maximus PawsUp is the best dog knuckling brace on the market to stop paw knuckling. Paw knuckling is when the paw curls and your dog does not walk on the pad. PawsUp works in a completely different way from just regular dog boots, as PawsUp corrects how your dog walks rather than just protects the skin like a boot. This means your dog will put their paws flat on the floor once again. 

These are the premium option, so if your dog will paw knuckle for the foreseeable future you might be best going for these.

  • Best brace on the market
  • Corrects paw position

Find Maximus PawsUp here

My dog has arthritis ...

in all her limbs and possibly has underlying neuro problems in her back legs. When walking, she catches her nails and injures her right paw due to knuckling. What could you recommend for her to protect her paws/nails?

We would suggest you buy a pair of Walkabout Knuckling Protection Boots to protect the top skin and nails from being damaged when your dog drags her paws along the ground, alongside a Walkin Bootie Splint to make sure the paw pad stays horizontal if possible. If she is young, you could also look at the Walkin Training Sock (pictured below).


Above is a photo of the Walkin Training Sock in action. The thread goes between the toes, making the paw pad sit flat again on the floor.

My 11 year old boxer has ...

just been diagnosed with spondylosis. He drags his back paw and has worn down the claws. When walking on pavements his paw bleeds after a time so at the moment we are just walking him on grass. I would like to get him a boot for his paw. Could you recommend which would be the most effective for him?

WagWear Mojave breathable rubber dog boots are excellent for paw knuckling and paw dragging when you need to keep your dog's paw skin and nails protected. These are the breathable rubber boot design with perforated holes allowing for lots of ventilation when exercising or in the warmer months. These boots have a wide paw opening allowing the boots to slide on and off, the top Velcro straps make sure of a secure and firm fit. These boots are comfortable, easy to wash and light.

Find WagWear boots here


If you think your dog has paw knuckling and you would like help to get the right advice or products, email us, and we can help you:

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Next article My Dog Has Carpal Hyperextension in His Front Leg Ligaments. What Should I Do?

Read more about Paw Knuckling - Causes, Prevention and How to Help at Home

Read here

Mr Finlay, the Rough Collie dog, Paw Knuckles due to Spondylosis

Read here

Best Dog Knuckling Boots & Braces

Knuckling aids here
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