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sandymere

Interesting article re dew claws.

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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-relatedi njuries. 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 to 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 relatively minimal manipulation.

 

As to the possibility of injuries 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.”

 

Anatomical diagram viewing the medial side of a dog’s left front leg demonstrating the five tendons that attach to the dewclaw.

FB_IMG_1568385106470.jpg.22cf8a43659613fb0781faed67280185.jpg

Edited by sandymere
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Never had a problem with a dew claw left on in me life barring once I bought a pup that had em removed an one kept growing back An needed vet to sort

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Ive took them off and left them on, haven't seen any difference either way.

I leave them on these days.

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2 hours ago, sandymere said:

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-relatedi njuries. 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 to 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 relatively minimal manipulation.

 

As to the possibility of injuries 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.”

 

Anatomical diagram viewing the medial side of a dog’s left front leg demonstrating the five tendons that attach to the dewclaw.

FB_IMG_1568385106470.jpg.22cf8a43659613fb0781faed67280185.jpg

Always had um left on seem ok apart from the odd pull but not really a problem 

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I’ve only had problem with the one dog and that didn’t occur until 3 years of age. They effected him a fare bit, his jumping suffered at times, he would pull up on some rabbits and not on others. My vet said there’s no way sore dew claws would effect a dog as much has I was making out, until he touched one and th dog almost bit his face off. Had them removed and never  looked back.  As I say so far that’s the only dog I’ve owned with dew claw problems

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5 hours ago, joe ox said:

Ive took them off and left them on, haven't seen any difference either way.

I leave them on these days.

Never had a problem when left on BUT maybe i've been lucky, as i've heard of enough that have problems with dew claws that would piss me right off.

You took the claws off that pup i had off you Joe, so i have no idea if it would have caused me issues BUT what you did give me was piece of mind, on that front, i've never had to think about that subject, as the jobs already done...

Also, as this dogs grown to have no inherited foot problems, IMO taking off the dew claws has been well worth while. Damage limitation....

It's your call Joe, you know your line... Just my opinion.... 😉

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I take them off.. done few litters now no issues... just extra something that could hold season up best OFF!!! 👍🏻Imo take 2 mins a pup

Edited by Crackers
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Ferreting around creeks on hard ground my older bitch seems to rip one dew claw out every second trip,she tends to use them as brakes.The claws that have grown back now are tiny,don't know why.She does use them like a thumb to secure rabbits so I can see the use of them.I thought they were remnants of claws used by dog's ancient ancestors to climb.

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7 hours ago, Crackers said:

I take them off.. done few litters now no issues... just extra something that could hold season up best OFF!!! 👍🏻Imo take 2 mins a pup

true , bryn had few probs with his, ripped them, ended up having to let them heal, tried  taping them  to protect them , when i had Buck i made sure that the breeder  took them off as small pup, best way i think, he full on when after  any thing,   in any ground, or cover , never any probs with him in 7 years .!

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I’ve never had any problems with them being taken off and have only had problems with them being left on and know other people who have had problems with them being left on including a friend of mine who had a very good bitch that at 3 years old half way through the season when she was conditioned properly and up to full fitness and running out of her skin kept going really sore around the dew claws then not running right so had to get them taken off, which by the time they had healed properly and got the bitch fit again had missed a good part of the season. It’s a no brainer for me, they have got to come off, the pro’s outweigh the cons 

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I’ve had both, left on & taken off and I’d always want them off from now on, just another thing that can get caught, knocked, infected etc, I’ve had enough problems with nails so f**k keeping another one on they don’t even need 

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🤔 As in all things in life, you can only go by your own past experiences,...it really is as simple as that.

Personally,...I would rather them, "off than on".....:good:

DSC_0106.JPG

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