Dog Dewclaw Care

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Keeping Your Dog’s Dewclaws Trimmed

Dewclaws
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When you trim your dog’s nails, you should pay special attention to his dewclaws. Dewclaws are found above the paw’s toes and are similar to human thumbs except they aren’t functional. They can be found on the front and hind legs.

In many dogs, the dewclaws never touch the ground and thus the nails may need to be shortened. Depending on their location and your dog’s specific breed anatomy, dewclaws sometimes hang or dangle and are prone to being injured during activities. This can lead to pain, infections and, eventually, veterinary intervention.

Advantage and Disadvantage of Dewclaws

Certain breed types, such as hunting dogs, will have their dewclaws removed as puppies in order to prevent ripping and tearing when working in overgrown terrain. The procedure is usually done at the age of two to five days old and requires only local anesthetic by a veterinarian.

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On the other hand, for agility trial dogs, dewclaws can be helpful in changing direction and traction. Their removal can present a disadvantage. Dogs also use it to grasp a bone or toy. Mountain breeds, such as Great Pyrenees, have dewclaws on their rear legs as a breed standard. You might even find double dewclaws on the same foot.

Should Dewclaws Be Removed?

For most adult dogs, removing dewclaws is considered unnecessary aesthetic surgery. If a dog’s dewclaws don’t present a problem, they should be left alone. At the time of spaying or neutering, your veterinarian may discuss the removal of your dog’s dewclaws if they are not properly attached, which could cause future problems.

Unlike declawing cats, which involves the removal of the tips of fingers and toes, dewclawing in dogs involves only the removal of the first digits or thumbs.

Dewclaw Removal Procedure

Dewclaws have very little bone and muscle attachments, and are connected only by the dog’s skin. As mentioned, the procedure is pretty simple for puppies. However, for an adult dog, the procedure requires general anesthesia and bandages.

Aftercare can be challenging, as a dog will tend to lick at the suture site. The veterinary office staff can help you select the appropriate post-surgical measures, such as using an Elizabethan collar or no-chew sprays.

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