Removing a dew claw from a dog is one of choice and should be discussed with your veterinarian. Most often the dew claws serve no real purpose or danger to the pet. A dog will have front dew claws which most often do not present a problem. Some breeds of puppies may be born with dew claws on the rear paws as well. Rear dew claws have little bone or muscle structure compared to front dew claws. These dew claws can seem to dangle from the skin and can be susceptible to catching on things and getting ripped off, causing your dog a great deal of pain. In very young puppies, the vet may remove the dew claw with very little anesthesia. Since the bone is not yet developed, a local anesthesia may be used while the vet removes the dew claw with surgical scissors, followed by sutures. Recovery is much quicker for the tiny patient.
A dew claw is similar to the thumb on a human which grows further up on the dog’s paw, away from the other nails and rarely touches the ground when walking. With the situation of the rear dew claws that seem to be hanging or dangling, that dew claw can become more of a hazard to your dogs’ safety. In rare situations, some dogs may even have two dew claws on the same paw (double dew claws) which may be typical in certain dogs such as the Great Pyrenees, which actually serves a purpose for this working breed of dog.
Speak with your veterinarian if you feel that any or all of your dogs’ dew claws may present a hazard for your dog while walking and/or playing. Dew claws that are kept trimmed and not presenting any real problems do not need to be removed. Rear dew claws, dangling and double dew claws most often present more of a problem for your dog and may need to be removed. Discuss it with your veterinarian. Vetinfo.com speaks of the pros and cons of dew claws in dogs and removal options. One of my little dogs does have rear dew claws and I just try to keep them well-trimmed. They cause him no problems. It is up to you, your dog’s activity level and the advice of your vet. It is not unusual for a dog’s dangling dew claw to get caught in a blanket or carpet fibers.
According to the petplace.com, if you feel it necessary to have one or more dew claws removed from your dog, it may be less invasive to have the procedure done while your dog is also being spayed, neutered or having any other surgery that requires anesthesia. Removing a dew claw is a minor process (which you should never attempt yourself). The advantages to a multiple procedure are for cost purposes as well as the health of your dog and putting him/her under anesthesia various times.
Typically, depending on your dog’s age, there are no preoperative tests necessary for the removal of the dew claws. Tests may be performed in preparation of other procedures being done at the same time. The surgery itself involves removal of the skin, bone and digit, which is quickly cut off and the area sutured. The whole procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes. A bandage may be placed over the surgery site and sutures will be removed within 3-5 days.
Once your dog is home and recovering, be sure to monitor the surgery site for redness, swelling and discharge. If you notice any abnormalities, contact your veterinarian immediately. Should your dog tend to irritate the area, it may be necessary to put on an Elizabethan collar to prevent any injuries during the healing process. Once the stitches are removed, your dog’s paws will be in normal healthy condition, only requiring the usual nail trimming and regular grooming care.