Should a Dog’s Dewclaws Be Removed?

The removal of a dog's dewclaw is a controversial topic

A very controversial topic in veterinary medicine is whether or not a dog should have its dewclaws removed surgically. These are the innermost claws found on one or multiple paws, which are analogous to the thumbs of human beings. Only certain dogs are born with these claws in place. The biggest concern about the presence of the dewclaws is that they can sometimes get caught on surfaces leading to torn nails and patient pain and discomfort.

Many veterinarians will offer to remove the dewclaws when puppies are a few days old when the surgery is least traumatic, while other veterinarians will remove them at the time of a surgical spay or neuter. As a more holistic oriented veterinarian, I usually do not recommend this procedure, as I do feel it is a painful procedure, and it would be like a surgeon removing our thumbs because they got in the way. However, each case should be evaluated individually and the decision on whether to remove them should be discussed between animal guardian and veterinarian.

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  1. I have a 5 year old mixed Chichihua who has the dewclaws. My vet never explained how painful it would be to remove them though he has suggested it for the reasons you mentioned. My dog actually had got it caught one time and it tore the casing of his nail off. The vet refused to help me with pain for it because I could not afford the outrageous office visit price they were going to charge. They do not seem to bother him and we try to keep them as trimmed as possible. Thank you for posting this article.

  2. If my dog were younger I would have all her dewclaws removed. This is due to the fact all of them become ingrown and need constant clipping. If they go unclipped they can get infected. Now thats she’s 13 it would be a waste to get them surgically removed, but it is constant matinence. Hers rarely gets caught on anything except in winter when we put clothes on her.

  3. I have working Maremmas that tend to goats. I wish they had had their declaws taskens off as puppies. The dogs nailks seldom need trimming but by the time I remember to check dewclaws they are ingrown. Owners of working, running dogs should consider early surgery.

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing your opinions on this surgery.

  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Certainly an interesting topic.

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