Can You Declaw a Dog?


Declawing or onychectomy is the surgical removal of an animal’s claws. This procedure is not as simple as a complete removal of the nail. It involves the cutting off of the end joint of a pet’s toes. In many parts of the world, declawing remains a rampant procedure, particularly in cats.

Due to the controversies that surround it, almost all countries in the European Union ban this kind of operation. Sadly, declawing is still being done all throughout North America. Learn more about declawing on dogs in today’s post.

Should You Declaw A Dog?

No. It is possible to do so but there are several reasons why you should not. First, declawing is only advised if the claw of an animal is damaged and cannot be possibly repaired. Another reason for declawing is if the animal has a tumor. Otherwise, there is no reason to declaw your dog. It is considered an act of animal cruelty and is even deemed illegal in many countries.

The amputation or the surgical removal of the claws should be considered as a last resort as much as possible. Vets should think of other types of treatment for the impaired claw before considering declawing.

The second reason why you should not declaw is the pain that comes with it. It is believed that it will be twice as painful for dogs as it is for cats. It can be so painful that it can be difficult to control using local anesthesia. The painful operation can cause trauma in canines and if you love your pet, you surely would not want to do anything that will make him traumatized.

Third, onychectomy can lead to deformities in the bones. Because it involves the removal of certain parts of the joint, your pet will become more prone to injuries in the spine and even arthritis. Unlike humans, a dog’s nails are not simply connected to the phalanges in the primary ligaments. Their nails develop straight from the bones.

Some people consider declawing because they worry that the dog would scratch and scrape their flooring. If you own a pet, you should already know the consequences that come with it. Besides, it will only take a little effort to protect those floors from your dog’s paws. If your buddy is fond of digging spots on the carpeted floor, you can buy a carpet protector.

When a dog scratches on a surface, it is actually his way of communicating to other animals. If he does it on a floor, it is like he is telling other dogs that the spot is his territory. They do it regardless of the surface. Sometimes, they scratch tiled and cement floors. Because they sweat through their pads, it is easy for them to leave s scent by scratching the floor.

A dog scratching on a tile floor is just him trying to be comfortable on the hardness of the surface. They may feel the need to do it before lying on the floor and rest. It is just our dogs’ way of making a place for them before lying down. Scratching is a normal canine behavior that should not be taken negatively.

Should You Remove the Dewclaw?

You might have heard somewhere that it will not hurt to remove a dog’s dewclaws because they are barely attached to the leg. This isn’t always the case. The dewclaw can be cut for some reasons but the basis for the action should be strong enough.

It is usually done as early as the first few days of a dog’s life. It will be more difficult to do it as a dog gets older, but it is still possible to do so. Traditionally, some breeders do it on the second day of the puppy’s life while some wait until the fifth day before performing the operation.

Do note that the area is quite prone to infection, because a dog might feel the need to often lick it. A dog that just went through dewclaw removal should be given a bitterant so will not lick the area.

Contrary to myth, dewclaws are not useless. It is not true that these claws never touch the ground. They do, mostly when dogs run. They actually serve a purpose, especially for very active dogs as they can give them an added traction as they run at high speed or when they are on a slippery ground.

Dewclaws prevent torque on the rest of the leg as your dog runs. The muscles in a canine’s lower leg are connected to the front dewclaw. Studies suggest that dogs without a dewclaw are more prone to arthritis compared to canines with their dewclaws still intact. There are also reported cases of dogs suffering from foot injuries because they no longer have the dewclaws.

The dewclaw is usually found on the front paws, although some dogs have it on the back like the Great Pyrenees breed. In rare cases, dogs could have two claws stemming from one area. This is the type of situation that normally requires surgery.

The problem with the dewclaw is that it is the most prone to wear and tear among all the other nails. It’s because they are not as attached as the other regular nails. They can get irritated if your dog has the habit of digging a lot. The dewclaw can get caught and ripped off when Fido often reaches out to the fence.

Your dog’s dewclaw can be removed to prevent further injury. Otherwise, you should always keep an eye on Fido’s nails. They should be trimmed short on a regular basis so he will be less prone to injuries.

How to Prevent Damage of the Claws

To avoid the claw from being damaged and eventually prevent declawing, you have to trim your buddy’s nails regularly. If you are not comfortable in doing this, your vet can do it for you. You can also bring Fido to a professional groomer where the trimming can be done without a hassle.

Because the dewclaws don’t touch the ground as often as the other nails, they should be trimmed more frequently. Many pet owners accidentally injure their pets during nail trimming. The only time it is not necessary to trim them is if your pet is already active and wears down his nails as well as his dewclaws.

In the event that the dewclaw was injured, make sure to stop the bleeding immediately. You can apply a styptic powder to the wound to seal it. If there is a piece of the nail that is dangling, make sure that you get rid of it so the area can heal properly. If you are not comfortable in doing this, simply ask your vet to remove the damaged nails.

Taking your pet to the veterinarian will not hurt since the claws are quite prone to infection. Just imagine all the places those claws have touched. Depending on the degree of the injury, your vet might prescribe medications such as pain reliever or antibiotics. Sedation may also be carried out if needed.

What To Expect With Declawing

As stated above, declawing can be advised by your vet when the situation calls for it. One of the conditions that warrant declawing is claw fold disease, when the nails, as well as the distal end of the digit, should be removed.

Prior to the operation, the veterinarian may give your dog antibiotics. It is also necessary to place the animal under general anesthesia to make the surgery less painful. A small cut will be done around the skin to reveal the bone and the claw. The unsettled nails and bones will be removed using a guillotine-style clipper. The last step involves stitching the surrounding area so the wound will be covered.

Recovering from the operation will take time and will require your pet to take pain medications. Your vet will also advise that you keep an eye on your dog after the operation. It is even recommended that dogs stay in the care of the vet for several days for monitoring.


Declawing is not an friendly procedure. It can be very painful for a dog and should only be done with a valid reason. The dewclaw, on the other hand, is still part of the claws and in spite the fact that many people have it removed, you have to consider the consequences that may arise from getting rid of it. If you believe it is necessary to discard Fido’s dewclaw, maybe because of an injury, consult your vet first for some other options.


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