Dewclaws in Dogs

Image Credits: Pixabay

A careful observation of your dog’s feet will reveal a unique aspect of their toenails. A majority of dogs possess four nails. The front feet, however, have five nails. This extra nail located on the inner and upper portion of the canine’s foot is termed a dewclaw. Do not be afraid if your dog is different. A few dogs possess dewclaws on rear feet. Some canines even have double dewclaws.

Types of dewclaws

A dewclaw is the big toe or thumb of the canine. They cannot be termed as equivalent to the human ones, but they could be described as similar. If you look at the foot of your dog, you will see that the toes which touch the ground correspond to our index, pinky, middle, and ring fingers. The thumb-if it can be called so- is the dewclaw. The same description can be given for any dewclaw provided dog hind foot. The dewclaw, in this case, could be described as the big toe.

It is important to note as to whether the dewclaw is well attached to the dog’s foot. It is seen that if the dewclaw is a single one, it will be attached well. You can touch the dewclaw and wiggle it in the forward and backward direction. The bones present inside can be felt. Any double or the rear dewclaws are attached to the foot only be a paw. These are much more mobile.

Function and removal

Dewclaws can be functional. A dewclaw which is attached through the bone to the front foot of the dog serves a definite aim. When your dog runs, its front feet frequently bends to a point where the dewclaws of the canine touch the ground. These dewclaws on slippery surfaces at high speeds offer greater traction. They also help to stabilize the wrist or carpal joint. A few dogs also use dewclaws to assist them in climbing trees and holding food to chew it more firmly. In colder climates, a dewclaw helps the dog to climb up ice. The usefulness of dewclaws which are attached solely by skin is unclear. You should not remove the front dewclaw as it serves a number of useful purposes. A dewclaw of a dog, in extremely rare cases, could develop a disease or could be injured. Only in such cases would you remove the dewclaw of the dog. Such problems, however, are not much seen and removal of healthy front dewclaws makes no sense. Veterinarians mostly remove the loosely attached rear or double dewclaws to stop any injury from happening. These surgeries are debatable as such injuries are rare, and the procedures do not serve any purpose. Most veterinarians do this surgery when the dog gets neutered or spayed.

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