Dewclaws, also referred to as 'dogs thumb', refers to a vestigial digit found on the foot of most mammals.Dewclaws are commonly found in canines, are often removed as puppies, although there is debate on if removal is necessary.
Almost all dogs have declaws on the inside of their front legs, and sometimes on the hind legs. Unlike front dewclaws hind ones normally have little bone or muscle. Some dogs even have more than one on the same paw.
Some specialist argue that in racing dogs it helps in gaining traction as the claw touches the ground during racing, and the nail wears down like normal nails do.
nevertheless, in some breeds, the dewclaw never touches the ground, the nail therefore doesn't wear down, and must be trimmed regularly to be kept at a safe length.
Dewclaws are not dead appendages. In some dog breeds, dewclaws are used to assist paws grip objects lightly. In other breeds, dewclaws don't seem joined to leg at all, except a flap of skin. In this case the declaw can be easily turned or folded, and offers no use.
Should Dewclaws be removed?
Dewclaws are weak digits which are barely attached to a dogs leg, some people argue that they should be removed. They argue the dewclaw can catch on objects and break, causing pain and risk of infection.
Others believe the pain of eliminating the dewclaw is greater than the risk it poses. Some countries have made declaw removal illegal, although, some have exemption for hunting breeds.
Most commonly, dewclaws are left intact, It is important to inspect these extra toes, and maintain them, to avoid painful overgrowth. Left unattended, dewclaws tend to grow curved and may embed themselves into the dewclaw pad.
Does your dog have dewclaws? are you concerned, or curious? Call us, or drop by the clinic for advice.