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Dew Claws

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TamanduaGirl
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Dew Claws

Postby TamanduaGirl » Mon Feb 05, 2018 1:37 am

The Function of Dewclaws 101

Front dewclaws are typically removed by some at 3-5 days of age, because they are believed to be a non-functional digit that poses an unnecessary risk for being injured.

In standing, the front dewclaw may not appear to be functional because it doesn't come in contact with the ground. However, observing the dewclaw when the dog is in motion tells a different story.
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Five tendons attach to the dewclaw and play an important role when the dog is in motion. For example:

-When a dog’s lead leg is on the ground during the gallop or canter, the dewclaw is on the ground to stabilize the carpus

-When a dog turns, the dewclaw digs into the ground to support the structures of the limb and prevent torque
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If a dog does not have dewclaws, there is a higher potential for the carpal ligaments to stretch and tear which could result in laxity and arthritis over time (OUCH!). This can then result in more stress being generated through the dog's carpus, elbow, shoulder, and spine as it tries to compensate for the lack of digit.
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On the other hand, the rear dewclaws do not have associated tendons and are considered non-functional (though they may be required for some breed standards to be present).

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In speaking with many vets, you would be surprised at how few dewclaw injuries they see.

So- given the front dewclaws' functional use, why are we so quick to remove them?
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In dogs, the most common injuries seen by many rehab providers and vets occur in the shoulder complex, yet we don’t see shoulders being removed. Food for thought!

Here are some cool videos if you'd like to learn more about the functional use of dewclaws in dogs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp2xHj_NJn4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4XflsMEk-k

https://www.facebook.com/mcrehabilitati ... 5563442033

I was all for removing them before but this makes a lot of sense especially after watching the dogs climbing out of the ice video.
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Re: Dew Claws

Postby hecate » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:37 pm

If they're not seeing dewclaw injuries they're not examining coursing/racing/hunting Greyhounds. While running an adoption program I fostered and placed over 400 dogs, almost all of whom had raced or been in race training. Broken, torn, and fractured dewclaws were common, along with plenty of other toe damage. Some Greyhounds who weren't even going to run competitively again had to have dewclaws removed because they had grown back deformed after repeated injuries.

When I lure-coursed, I always taped my Greyhounds to help prevent injuries to dewclaws, stopper pads, and hocks from the lure line (especially with continuous-loop) and rough ground. Even then a dog occasionally came off the field bleeding through his Vetrap. Tape isn't allowed on the racetrack.
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Re: Dew Claws

Postby TamanduaGirl » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:45 pm

Interesting. Of course most pets that practice sees are probably house pets. I know my first dog broke her dew claws a lot. She was real active but she was my childhood dog and don't think her claws got trimmed either. I was glad when Beaker came without his but it's interesting to see they actually do get used when present. So I don't know what I would do in the future given a choice but you really only have a choice if you get from a breeder and the breeder gives you a choice. It's a more involved surgery once older than wee pups because it isn't fully formed yet when bitty things.

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