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Murray Momma

What to do with Dew Claws?

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Murray's nails have never really been a problem as we walk him enough they wear down. However, the dew claws are brutal! He's getting into a habit of playing with my feet when I am standing in the kitchen cooking/cleaning/not paying attention to the puppy and will wrap his paw around my leg, put a toy between my feet, and start batting at me like a cat (he may have has some inspiration from either one of the felines in the house). While this is cute, the dew claws have resulted in a number of scratches on my feet/ankles which have bled. I've looked at trimming them but the point is pretty flush with the thicker part of the nail. They're white so I know that if I do cut them, I can avoid the quick. I guess I'm probably expecting nails like the cats with a more defined point. Is there a rule of thumb on the dew claws? Should I have them removed?

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No need to remove them, invest in a dremel and teach your puppy to let you grind its nails. Not likely to hit the quick, and it will make their nails smooth.

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As you stated, playing with your feet and climbing up your leg (and making you bleed!) is a bad habit.....you need to correct him and make him stop. You shouldn't be considering dew claw removal...you need to improve his manners and get some respect from him.

I only remove rear dew claws (and only shortly after birth)...the front dew claws are well attached and part of the structure of the foot. A front claw would only be removed if it was seriously injured or torn. Dew claw nails need trimming just like the other claws...sometimes more often because they don't get worn down.

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As you stayed, playing with your feet and climbing up your leg is a bad habit.....you need to correct him and make him stop. You shouldn't be considering dew claw removal...you need to improve his manners and get some respect from him.

I only remove rear dew claws (and only shortly after birth)...the front dew claws are well attached and part of the structure of the foot. A front claw would only be removed if it was seriously injured or torn. Dew claw nails need trimming just like the other claws...sometimes more often because they don't get worn down.

Spot on advice. Train him and don't consider unnecesary (and counterproductive) surgery.

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Do the Dew(claws)? M. Christine Zink DVM, PhD, DACVSMR

 

 

Do the Dew(claws)?

M. Christine Zink DVM, PhD, DACVSMR

I am a vet that works exclusively with performance dogs, developing rehabilitation programs for injured dogs or dogs that have had surgery as a result of performance-related injuries. I have seen many dogs now, especially field trial/hunt test and agility dogs, that have had chronic carpal arthritis, frequently so severe that they have to be retired or at least carefully managed for the rest of their careers. Of the over 30 dogs I have seen with carpal arthritis, only one has had dewclaws. The others have all had them removed.

If you look at an anatomy book (Miller’s Guide to the Anatomy of Dogs is an excellent one – see figure below) you will see that there are 5 tendons attached to the dewclaw. Of course, at the other end of a tendon is a muscle, and that means that if you cut off the dew claws, there are 5 muscle bundles that will become atrophied from disuse.

Those muscles indicate that the dewclaws have a function. That function is to prevent torque on the leg. Each time the foot lands on the ground, particularly when the dog is cantering or galloping, the dewclaw is in touch with the ground. If the dog then needs to turn, the dewclaw digs into the ground to support the lower leg and prevent torque. If the dog doesn’t have a dewclaw, the leg twists. A lifetime of that and the result can be carpal arthritis. Remember: the dog is doing the activity regardless, and the pressures on the leg have to go somewhere. They can be absorbed by the dewclaw, or they will move up and down the leg to the toes, carpus, elbow, and shoulders.

Perhaps you are thinking, “I never have had one of my dogs have carpal pain or arthritis.” Well, we need to remember that dogs, by their very nature, do not tell us about mild to moderate pain. If a dog was to be asked by an emergency room nurse to give the level of his pain on a scale from 0 o 10, with 10 being the worst, their scale would be 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Most of our dogs, especially if they deal with pain that is of gradual onset, just deal with it and don’t complain unless it is excruciating. But when I palpate the carpal joints of older dogs without dewclaws, I almost always elicit pain with elatively minimal manipulation.

As to the possibility of in juries to dew claws. Most veterinarians will say that such injuries

actually are not very common at all. And if they do occur, then they are dealt with like any other

injury. In my opinion, it is far better to deal with an injury than to cut the dew claws off of all dogs

“just in case.”

DEWCLAWS1.jpg

 

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If you don't want to dremel your dogs nails(personally, I love it), then get the heavy duty nail files they use for acrylic nails and just file his dew claws with that.

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Thanks everyone! I love this forum. :)

 

We're working on correcting the pawing at my legs/feet behavior with sitting and waiting like a good dog for the toy to be thrown instead. So far, it's slow going but he has been making progress. My husband is a mechanic and has a Dremel. I think filing will be his job. he has a great attention to fine details. I tried to use a regular nail file and Mur thought it looked like a great chew toy. He's an odd dog!

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Thanks everyone! I love this forum. :)/>

 

We're working on correcting the pawing at my legs/feet behavior with sitting and waiting like a good dog for the toy to be thrown instead. So far, it's slow going but he has been making progress.

 

One thing that might help you is the Mat Work from the program "Control Unleashed". Once the dog absolutely loves lying on the mat, you can start to use the mat to train calm at times when you are doing things like working in the kitchen, etc.

 

Something to consider . . .

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I'm going to try and get Grace used to the dremel , I think this is going to be a nightmare! She doesn't like noises. From the moment I brought her home I have been messing with her feet so she doesn't mind that part.

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I am glad that I got to read all this info on the dew claws. In the past when I got Cocker Spaniel puppies the dew claws had already been removed. There was a lot of misinformation out there about dew claws needing to be removed and were not necessary. When I got Ellie she had her dew claws intact. Thanks.

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The information about dew claws is important. So many people consider them as simply "vestigial" and therefore of no use, and that is certainly not the case with those on the front legs.

 

I notice with my dogs that when they are active (and I mean not just walking and running but doing a lot of turns and other similar movements), the dew claws wear down even though not as much as the regular claws. That says to me that they are performing some sort of function because they are being used.

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I know one dog who has a single dew claw on one hind foot, not attached to anything but skin (you can take hold of it and move it freely up and down the leg with the little bit of loose skin). To me, if the dog was mine and was going in for another operation, I would get that one removed. It's a black nail that serves no useful purpose and just gets quicked or left too long. I would be afraid of it catching on something and ripping off.

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My girl has six toes on each of her back feet: each has one "attached" dewclaw and another one that is hanging and attached only by skin.

 

She's pretty intent on chasing rabbits and squirrels through the underbrush; she loves to tunnel and dig after underground varmints. Despite all this, she has never had any injury to either of those extra, floppy appendages.

 

I think the danger of a dewclaw injury is exaggerated.

 

(My old boy Buddy did, though, used to regularly break his front dewclaw nails off so they hung, half-attached, at the base, which required a $186 trip to the e-vet each time. He never did any injury to himself during normal vet hours, but that dewclaw break was really painful, and he could not settle until the vet removed the dangling nail and severed the connection.)

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We had a hunting dog come into our vet that had caught one of those dangling dew claws in the brush and tore it off and a 4 inch strip of skin with it. In 14 years working there, I never saw another one like it. But we had a number of LGDs that had double dew claws. Their old wives tale was that the double dew claws protected them from snake bites, so they NEVER removed them.

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If you do trim the dew claw just take off the pointed tip or most vets will trim them for you. If still have issues after you trim them they do make 'soft paw' covers (like for cats, but actually sized for dogs that will make the claw rubbery and blunt so no damage will be done to you or your belongings.

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RushDoggie, the link you posted did not work and I would like to have it to bookmark in order to show it to people who do not think it hurts the dog to remove the dewclaws. Can you try posting it again?

Although, sadly, I don't know if we can convince people who are intent on removing them not to do it. It seems so obvious to me that it is harmful to the dog, but people won't listen.

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It worked for me. I think it's the same article as above.

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When I click on the link Rushdoggie provides I get a search page that doesn't appear to be relevant.

 

The link gvc-border posted lead me to an excellent article. I don't know if it's the same article, but it does include info by Dr. Zink. And it has a great video that's definitely worth watching.

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Murray Momma: You haven't said what you do with the dog's other nails. Dremel is a great tool - if the dog will accept it. After four dogs who had no problem with it, I now have one who absolutely freaks when it is closer than about a foot away.

She also doesn't like clipping nails (any nails, not just dew claws).

And yes, I've attempted the "desensitization" procedure....yes, for a long time....yes, with excellent treats.

She's just having no part of that.

 

However, as someone said, a coarse nail file is just fine with her! It's a total PITA for me - holding each nail for so long to file it down. But she will nearly go to sleep while I'm doing it, so that's what we do. Thankfully, we hike a lot and I don't need to do this very often.

 

Figure out what works best for you and Murray! And oh, what others have said about leaving the dew claw are spot on.

 

diane

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Sorry, it was gvc's link that worked for me.

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Thanks for all the information.

 

Just got a new sheepdog called Molly the Collie.

 

She was already 6 months old when I got her and had been living in a field. Therefore, her pads were soft and her claws were long. I have been walking Molly the Collie on hard ground so she can naturally wear her claws down and toughen up her pads. It worked for my last collie. I had my last Collie, Maud, for 18 years and never once had to cut her claws.

 

However, with regards to Molly the Collie, my concern is that her dew claws on the rear legs are long. I know I can just take her to the vet, but I would rather not.

 

Any advice, greatly appreciated.

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Thanks for all the information.

 

Just got a new sheepdog called Molly the Collie.

 

She was already 6 months old when I got her and had been living in a field. Therefore, her pads were soft and her claws were long. I have been walking Molly the Collie on hard ground so she can naturally wear her claws down and toughen up her pads. It worked for my last collie. I had my last Collie, Maud, for 18 years and never once had to cut her claws.

 

However, with regards to Molly the Collie, my concern is that her dew claws on the rear legs are long. I know I can just take her to the vet, but I would rather not.

 

Any advice, greatly appreciated.

 

 

Hi there ~

 

Are Molly's dew claws troubling her? If they just need a trim, you can do that yourself or ask a groomer or your vet to do it. Otherwise, unless they are a problem for her and causing pain issues, I'd think you could just leave them alone and merely trim them as needed, just as you would the rest of her toenails.

 

Does this help?

 

 

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