Why Do Dogs Have Dew Claws?
Have you ever taken a closer look at your dog’s feet? Do it now if your pooch is around. Take a look at the rear feet and observe how many toenails you see on each foot. Now take a look at the front feet and observe how many toenails you can see on each foot. You should notice an additional toenail located at the inner, upper part of each of your dog’s front feet. These are known as dewclaws. However, do not be alarmed if you find dew claws on your dog’s hind feet also. It is completely natural. In fact, in some cases, a dog may more than one dewclaw on the same foot. All these are perfectly normal, and your dog is neither a mutant dog nor an alien dog. So why do dogs have dew claws? In this article, we will attempt to answer this question and explain what to do (or not to do) about them.
Why Do Dogs Have Dew Claws?
So, what is the purpose of a dewclaw? The dewclaw on your dog’s foot has nothing to do with a mutation. In fact, dewclaws serve a definite purpose. If you have ever paid attention to the movement of your dog’s front legs when it runs, you may have noticed that the feet bend forward to the extent that the dewclaws come into contact with the ground for a moment. But the dewclaws come into full use when your dog is coming to a sudden halt or negotiating a quick turn. It also plays a huge role when your dog is moving on a slippery surface. What the dewclaw does it that it stabilizes your dog’s carpal joint and provides additional traction, which helps the dog to stay on its feet without losing balance and falling over. It also helps your dog to hold things better to chew or to climb trees. However, there are some dewclaws that seem like they are only attached to the dog’s skin. The purpose of such dewclaws is still unclear.
Do All Dogs Have Dew Claws?
It is, however, important to note that not all dogs are born with dewclaws. And, as mentioned earlier, some dogs have dewclaws only on their front legs while others have them on all four legs. In rare cases, some dogs have more than one dew claw on the same legs. And yet, in some rare cases, some dogs that are not born with dewclaws begin to develop them as they grow. Dogs that have more than one dewclaw on the same leg are called polydactyl.
Should Dew Claws Be Removed?
So, should dewclaws be removed? There is no straight answer to this question. As mentioned previously, dewclaws play very important roles when it comes to a dog’s balance and mobility. However, there are some instances that will prompt the removal of a dewclaw. Such instances include:
- Health risks: In some rare cases, a dewclaw may become infected by some disease or may even become cancerous. In such an instance, it is necessary to have it removed.
- Double dewclaws: As indicated previously, some dogs may have more than one dew claw on the same leg. In such a case, it is a good idea to remove one of them when it poses a risk of injury or harm.
- Cosmetic reasons: There are several instances where dog owners have had the dewclaws of their dogs removed as they believe it enhances the appearance of the dog.
Unless the presence of your dog’s dew claws poses some health risk, it should not be removed. If you decide to have your dog’s dew claws removed for cosmetic reasons, then you should bear in mind that you are putting it at a disadvantage in terms of its movement.
How To Take Care Of Dew Claws
When it comes to grooming or taking care of your dog’s dewclaws, you have to keep in mind that it is the same as maintaining the other claws. If you have a very active dog, then the chances are that its claws, including the dewclaws, may wear away with time. In such a case, there would not be any need to trim them yourself. Otherwise, if your dog does not have much of an outdoor activity on a regular basis, then it is important to trim its claws by yourself to ensure that they maintain a healthy length. There is no recommended number of times to trim your dog’s claws in a month. All you need to do is to monitor their growth. To trim your dog’s dewclaws, be sure always to use clippers that are made purposely for dogs. When trimming, it is important always to separate the dewclaw away from your dog’s leg to avoid any injury. Finally, try not to cut too close to the nail bed area.
- Treating Dew Claw Injuries
Dewclaw injuries are not very common. That does not mean that they do not occur. Sometimes referred to as dog extra toe, your dog’s dewclaw can become infected as a result of an untreated injury. It can also be broken or split in two. In some cases, the dewclaw can be ingrown. The recommended thing to do whenever there is an injury or infection to your dog’s dewclaw is to visit the vet immediately.
There are a few signs to look out for to know if your dog’s dewclaw has sustained an injury.
- When your dog limps and yelps when its leg is touched.
- If you notice a split in the dewclaw a lump, or growth around it.
In a nutshell, dogs have dew claws for very specific reasons that bother on balance, mobility, and grip. Dog dew claws are usually located on the front legs of the dog. However, there are some cases where they can be found on the hind legs. Not all dogs are born with dewclaws. Dog claws do not need to be removed unless they pose a risk to the dog’s health. They require proper grooming, just like the other claws. In cases of injury, it is best to consult with your vet.