Dewclaws can create a variety of problems in our canine friends, and we will tackle them all in today’s article.
Some vets recommend removing them, but there are also dogs for which dewclaws never create any issues, so they might not need to have the procedure done. Read on to find out more!
Why do dogs have dewclaws?
Dewclaws are considered a vestigial appendage, which means that they no longer serve any purpose.
However, some dog parents might say otherwise as they might have noticed that their canine buddies actually use their dewclaws to better grab onto their treats or toys, for example.
Dewclaws resemble thumbs. In the past, when dogs were able to climb trees to hunt down prey, they heavily relied on their dewclaws. But these days, they are better equipped for hunting on the ground, which means that this appendage doesn’t make any sense.
Most dog breeds have dewclaws only on their front paws. But some are different, and they might have dewclaws on their hind feet, as well, such as Newfoundlands. While it happens rarely, some pets can also have double dewclaws, which means that instead of five toes, they will have six. This is known as polydactyly, and it is a condition that commonly affects dogs from breeds such as the Saint Bernard or the Briard.
Why do vets recommend removing your dog’s dewclaws?
First of all, veterinarians do not make universal recommendations for all of the dogs they see. The same rule applies in this case, too.
If you’ve come in contact with different dogs over the course of your life, you probably know that some have their dewclaws tight against their paws, while the dewclaws of others can be wobbly and loose.
Needless to say, there is no need to remove the dewclaws if they present no risk of injury whatsoever. However, if they’re floppy and your dog does risk hurting that part of his body, your vet is going to recommend the operation.
If a dewclaw is injured, the dog has a higher chance of developing an infection, not to mention that that part of his foot is going to be swollen and painful to the touch. If your dog has produced any injury on his dewclaws, take him to the vet clinic right away.
It might not seem like an emergency, but you do have to consider that a dewclaw is a toe, so your dog will be in some amount of pain. You would probably want to go to the emergency room if you hurt one of your toes, right? Your canine friend deserves the same type of care.
Pros and cons of dewclaw removal
The most significant advantage of getting your dog’s dewclaws removed is the fact that you will prevent injuries and infections. Performing the procedure while the dog is still young is better as the recovery will be far easier. Also, you will be happy to know that the operation isn’t too complicated and that it has a high success rate.
Like with any other type of surgery, there are some risks that need to be considered when mulling over whether you should remove your dog’s dewclaws or not. First of all, your dog is going to be administered an anesthetic, and anesthesia has its share of risks in all animals, including people and dogs.
Another possible con would be that your dog is obviously not going to be capable of using that part of his body. He’s not going to be as agile and skilled when grabbing onto objects such as toys.
There are some risks in terms of how your dog’s going to use his local foot and leg muscles, too. Depending on how the operation is performed, some of the ligaments and muscles might be affected too, which in time could lead to muscular atrophy and as a result, arthritis. This theory is supported by Dr. Zink at caninesports.com.
Another note that we have to make with regard to dewclaws is that since they are located at a superior level, you will have to do your best at trimming your dog’s nails on a regular basis. Unlike the rest of the nails, those from the dewclaws do not come in contact with the ground, so they’re not naturally ‘filed’ like the others.
How much does a dewclaw removal cost?
It depends on several factors, such as your dog’s age (younger dogs are more resistant to anesthetics, and since they’re also healthier, the procedure is easier and safer to perform), the type of anesthetic used, and the vet clinic you go to.
In the United States and Canada, for example, most puppy dewclaw removal surgeries cost a minimum of $40 to $50. In Australia, the cost is a lot higher, and it can set you back anything in the range of $70 to $100 and more.
Dog dewclaws are vestigial appendages that can be seen in all dogs’ front paws. Some breeds also have them in their hind paws.
Even though many breeders have the dewclaw removal procedure done on their puppies when they are very young, there is no specific need to remove a dewclaw unless it is creating problems or is at a high risk of becoming injured.