Pet owners learn many things after they start to live and care for their pets, be it any pet.
In the case of dogs, novice dog owners learn a lot about dogs and their requirements, along with their body formation and the changes in terms of their body that happen from a pup to an older dog.
One such thing is dew claws in dogs that shock every new dog owner, and they do not understand how to proceed with it.
In this article, we will learn about dog dew claws, what they are, their types, the benefits of removing them, and tips on how to remove them.
Let us begin the read with what dew claws are and where they are located on a dog’s body.
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What are Dew Claws, and Where are they Located on a Dog’s Body?
Dew claws can easily be understood by the example of a human’s thumb. As humans have thumbs on the side of their palms, dogs have the same kind of thing just on the side of their paws called dew claws.
Human thumbs are unique and have many advantages, whereas dog’s dew claws do not serve that important purpose but still are of some importance.
There are five tendons in the front dew claws of the dog, which helps them in many things. Especially when they are young, the front dew claws help them retain stability and provide grip for walking, running, and swimming.
It also lends support to their eating; if they want to grasp something and chew, the front dew claws provide support to maneuver the item.
The dew claw is helpful for dogs when they want to get out of the water or to retain their ground and posture when they are in a gallop. It also assists them when they want to turn as their dew claws tent into the ground, making a stable stop and turn.
This was about the front dew claws; what about the rear ones? Very rare breeds have rear claws and are also not of any use. They are very delicate and often seen limping out of the body through a mere skin.
2 Types of Dew Claws
There are basically two types of dew claws that are seen in dogs. Front dew claws and rear dew claws.
1. Front Dew Claws
Front Dew claws are the common ones that are seen in every breed of dog. All dogs are born with it, and it may serve some purpose to dogs. They are present around each of the front paws.
2. Rear Dew Claws
These types of claws are not very common, and dogs are seen with one or two rear dew claws. In some rare cases, you can even witness double dew claws in each rear leg.
Rear dew claws are are rare and can be found in breeds like Briad and Great Pyrenees, and it is recommended not to remove them if they appear in dogs.
Benefits of Removing Dew Claws
The basic benefit of dew claw removal is that it prevents injuries to dogs’ ligaments and the rest of the leg. Dogs tend to get in trouble unnecessarily, and they can get stuck or caught up, which can cause injury; hence breeders find it safe to remove the dew claws, which may prevent them from getting hurt.
Many breeders do it because it makes it easier for them to groom. Trimming nails and combing is easier when there are no dew claws. It also makes them cleaner, and dirt and other debris-like things cannot enter the house.
This was actually started by the breeders who entered dog shows, and they removed the dew claws to make dogs look better. It is still done by many breeders.
But according to vets, the dewclaws should not be removed as it is unethical to remove something which is a body part until it causes trouble or pain in dogs.
How to Remove Dew Claws?
The earlier the dew claws are removed, the better it is for the dog’s recovery and maintenance.
The dog will be given a general anesthetic to perform the removal surgery.
If done by the vet, they will prescribe you some things to do, and you need to follow them precisely, like if you need to feed anything before surgery or the dog has to be empty stomach and things like this.
The surrounding skin will be disinfected to prevent any infection during or after the surgery. Then with the help of a surgical scissor, the surgery to remove the whole toe will start, and by cutting through the skin, bone, and muscle, the dew claw will be separated and removed from a dog’s body.
Then the stitches will be done to hold the edge of the wound, and depending on the cut, the sutures will do. At last, the bandage or the cone will be tied around the operated area, assisting in the healing of the wound.
At a very early age, puppies’ ligaments, muscle, and bone, along with the tissues, are very soft and not developed much, so their healing is quicker at a young age. It is done by many breeders when the pups are just a few days old.
The surgery is basically a 10-minute procedure, and after that, it takes an hour or two for the anesthesia effect to wear off, and then the pup can happily go home.
Risks Surrounding Dew Claw Removal
There are no major complications of dew claw removal in puppies, but the more the age of the dog, higher is the chance of complications.
Removal of front dew claws may result in some issues later in the dog’s life. The wrist of dogs has ligaments and tissues, which are said to be at risk of tear and stretch if the dew claws are removed.
This can lead to arthritis and other severe bone, muscle, and ligament issues. Ultimately causing more stress on other joints of the leg and spine as the load gets distributed after the removal of the carpus region.
Dew Claw Removal Aftercare
The young the puppies are at the time of dew claws removal, easier and faster the recovery will be.
Usually, it takes around 14 days to recover from the surgery, and if the pup is just a few days old, it will take around three days to heal without the need for the removal of the sutures.
A dressing of the wound is required every day for each leg of both front and rear dew claws removal; if not done, there is always a risk of infection in and around the surgical area.
Seek a veterinarian’s advice to understand better the responsibility and what to do to care for the wound, which will assist them in quick and painless healing.
Look for any irregularities in dogs and their behavior, including their walking and sitting postures. If they show any signs of discomfort and limping, contact the vet straight away.
If they try to reach and lick the affected area or touch and bite the wound, ask your vet for a cone or any such tools to prevent this from happening.
Monitor the healing, and if it is slow or looks like it’s infected, seek medical help from a veterinarian.
Yes, if your dog is having problems or showing discomfort because of the dew claws, it is alright to remove them at any age. But if there are no issues, then you should just let it be and shouldn’t remove them.
Yes, because dogs do not walk depending on the dew claws. After the dew claws are removed, and it has been healed and recovered, you will see your dog running and walking normally as before.
No, if it has been surgically removed, it won’t grow back. However, if the dew claws are broken through an accident or split because of any other cause, they can grow back.
If your dog has dew claws, you might be thinking of removing them. This article will help you know what dew claws are, what happens if you remove them, and what the procedure is for removing dew claws.
This guide will help you understand all about dew claws, risks surrounding dew claws removal, and the caution you should take after its removal.
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.