i know that ear cropping and tail docking has a lot of controversy surrounding it, but what about the removal of a dog’s dewclaw? is it in any way similar to declawing a cat? is it okay to do?
For dewclaws, I see no need to remove dewclaws that have solid bone attachments to the paw. These claws are usually just as functional and feeling as the claws on the rest of the foot, and unlikely to get caught in things. Removing a toe like this is a full amputation, more complete even than removing a cat’s claw in a declawing surgery. I don’t recommend it or advise it.
Most people will have the dewclaws removed at 2-5 days of age, when the tissue is less developed. I have never done puppy dewclaw removal but a colleague did (feeling roped into doing so by a client) and they swore never again, because even the 2-day-old puppies cried. The only bit of good news here is that if the claw is removed when the puppy is very small, they don’t seem to have any long-term effects that we have found.
However, for very floppy, loose, dangly dewclaws, these lack internal bone and are only connected via skin and a little soft tissue, like a skin tag. These are at more risk of getting caught in things (fences, flooring, bushes, etc.) and potentially injuring the pet. Removing these is just as simple as removing a skin tag, with no bony involvement and few nerves going to the area. I often offer removing these “unattached” dewclaws at the spay or neuter surgery. The pet should still be on appropriate pain medication during and after the procedure, but they are unlikely to have any issues associated with the procedure, and may be saved from painful dewclaw injuries in the future.
Thank you for the question, I am happy to clarify!