Got new furniture at home? Or just renovated your floor and still in pristine condition?
Chances are you are thinking of ways to prolong your investment especially if you have a furry best friend with its mighty claws.
Speaking of claws, you probably have heard of the controversial declawing of house cats to prevent them from tearing furniture and scratching family members.
With this, declawing your dog might have crossed your mind, too. Is it possible to declaw a dog? Since it is considered inhumane for cats, does it also speak true for dogs?
Before you even consider this procedure for your dog, be fully informed first.
What is Dog Declawing?
Dogs use their claws in a lot of different ways such as scratching, playing, digging and all other doggy routines. It is also important to help balance them while walking and it is essential for their grip, too. Suffice to say, their claws are important in their day to day affairs in the same way that your hands do!
Declawing or onychectomy is a procedure done to surgically remove an animal’s claws.
While you might think that it is simply removing nails just like how you do it, it is far from that reality. It basically amputates all or part of the distal phalanges or end bones of the animal toes to prevent the claw from growing.
Translating in human anatomy, it means cutting fingers off just so the nails will never grow. Ouch, right?!
Yes, and while it is practiced for cats, it is considered inhumane. For dogs included, it means putting them through a lot of pain that even painkillers cannot alleviate. Imagine cutting a part of your bones!
To worsen the case, there are some reports that declawing can cause arthritis, spinal injuries and even deformities.
With these, the question is, is declawing necessary?
History of Declawing
Reports claim that declawing cats started in the 20th century by dog fighters and then used by veterinary surgeons thereafter. Because it was performed in cats, this topic for dogs also followed suit. However, even for both dogs and cats, it is a very controversial topic.
Again, declawing is not simply the same as cutting nails as in the case of humans! It causes damage and injuries to those pets that were declawed. Unless, of course, the reason for declawing is caused by an infection and deemed necessary to improve the quality of life of the dog.
Today, unless declawing is performed for a medical situation or severe infection, it is banned in over 20 countries such as Australia, Brazil, Finland, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden. It is even considered animal cruelty!
The Anatomy of a Dog’s Claws
Look at your dog’s claws and compared to yours, it seems a bit scrunched. Their wrist and ankles are followed by the bones in the “hands” and “feet” known as metacarpals or metatarsals, respectively. Right from the bones extend the phalanges or fingers and toes.
Unlike in your hands where the nails are connected just by a ligament or tissue, dog’s nails are connected to a bone! Yes, their nails are integrally part of the bones.
So if you want to permanently remove a dog’s claws, it means that the bones should be removed, too. This is also the same reason why declawing is controversial for cats because it involves removing bones!
Once the bones are removed, both for the cats and dogs, it forces them to bear their weight differently as these bones that were taken out are important to help support their body weight.
Removing a dog’s claws is physically impossible. If this happens, it will handicap the dog and curtail its ability to run and walk.
Can Dogs Be Declawed?
Dogs should never be declawed just for the convenience of the owners. Due to the unbearable pain that it will cause the canine, it is considered cruel!
Declawing must not be done unless there is a medical reason like infection affecting the paws.
The American Veterinary Medical Association considers this as a major operation and advises against doing it in the absence of a serious health condition.
Besides, if the claws of your dog are in perfect shape, there is no reason why it should be removed.
What about Dew Claws?
Dew claws are essentially the dog’s thumb. Some dog breeds have dew claws on the inside of the front leg, while rarely; others have it on the hind legs. Many breeders use this old practice of removing the dew legs while the pup is still a few days old. However, apart from curtailing possible injuries in the future, removing it has little to no scientific reason.
According to Dr. Christine Zink, DVM, Ph.D., DACVSMR, dew claws are important especially when they move. It provides extra friction when they run at high speeds and help support their wrist joint. Some also use declaws as additional support when they climb trees or grip objects. Dew claws also absorb the pressure when dogs do their activity and without it, carpal arthritis may occur.
Besides, the dew claws are connected to five tendons! Removing it will also cause unnecessary and cruel pain for dogs.
Signs your Dog Needs Declawing
Again, declawing is only needed when your dog has a medical condition just like an infection in the nail beds. And, it will only be suggested by your vet if that is the only option available.
So if your dog is already suffering from a nail infection, what are the symptoms? Here are some cues that your dog needs to be checked by a vet:
- Difficulty in walking or limping; refusing to walk
- Swelling and redness around the claw area
- Tails and ears down
- Shying away from going outside (even if this is not an issue in the past)
- Hiding away or not eating its food
- Licking paws excessively
If you see any of these signs, contact the vet right away to cure at once possible infections. Onychectomy or declawing should only be a treatment of last resort.
Understanding Onychectomy Procedure or Dog Declaw
If your dog needs an onychectomy or declawing (which hopefully they wouldn’t need in their lifetime), here is what you may expect.
Onychectomy or declawing requires cutting within the second and third bones holding the claw. Their knucklebones are removed from their toes! Apart from the bones, it also affects its nerves and blood vessels. With this, declawing means ten amputations for your dog!
- The dog will be admitted to the veterinarian’s office, will be prepped for surgery and will be placed under general anesthesia.
- Once the dog is unconscious, the vet will begin slicing the skin to expose the bone and claw. There are many ways to remove the claw but usually, it is done using a guillotine-style clipper.
- After the problematic claw has been removed, the vet will start to stitch it up.
- Since the procedure will cause significant pain, pain killers may be administered during its recovery. Some maybe even required to stay in for a week to monitor unnecessary pain.
Take note that this procedure is extremely painful and some dogs and cats are reported to suffer from the ache even after a long time. This is the reason why it should never be considered unless ultimately necessary.
Dog Rehabilitation from Onychectomy
Once the dog is at home after the surgery, you may need to clean its bandage often and the dog will not be allowed to do its regular activities for a month or so. It will take a while before the canine will be back on its feet. Here are a few ways that can help them in their recovery:
- Never push your dog to walk or run as normal as it can do them more harm than good, but coax them to do it at tiny little steps at a time with the vet’s recommendation
- Monitor their paws regularly
- Allow them time to recover and take things slowly
What Can You Do To Avoid Claw-Related Problems?
So declawing is really not an option and especially not for reasons such as scratch-free furniture or floors. However, there are ways for you to keep your dog’s nails well-kept. Not to mention that these can also help prevent possible infections:
1. Natural Wear and Tear – with exercise, dog’s nails will naturally tear down especially when they are in tougher terrain. Although of course, sometimes nails can come out jagged and smoothing it out is always a welcome option.
2. Clipping Dog’s Nails – this is the best way to ensure that unwanted claw-related issues are prevented. It is not a comfortable option for dogs and owners alike but it has its merits. When in doubt, the vet can always help trim nails or professional groomers can always extend their services. In case you want to try it, here are some tips:
Always keep an eye for that area in your dog’s nail where the blood is supplied; this is called “quick”. The quick is distinguishable because it is that darker spot compared to the rest; of course, it is easy to spot when the dog’s nail is white compared to black.
- Stay clear from the quick as accidentally cutting it will cause bleeding and pain for your dog.
- If it is cut, it will definitely bleed profusely and a styptic powder will come in handy
Lay your dog down on the floor before cutting them and make sure to do it in a well-lighted area. If it is your first time, enlist the help of someone who can hold the dog still.
Grasp one paw at a time and keep on reassuring your dog by patting it at the back.
Cut at a 90-degree angle and make sure you are far from the quick or at least 2 millimeters away. While there are lots of clippers around, a guillotine type is the easiest to use.
After the deed, shower your pooch with some love for a job well done. At the same time, watch out for any lingering problems such as redness, swelling, discharge or bleeding.
Perform the act frequently and in small chops rather than waiting for it to grow long.
3. Grind Dog’s Nails – if clipping seems to be a daunting task, grinding is also an option! It can be using a nail file or nail grinder made for pets. It also gives you ultimate control and you can even shape its nail!
4. Use Claw Cover – claw covers like Soft Paws is also an option. These are small, silicone or vinyl covers that can be placed on your dog’s nails. It will usually last a month or two before they fall off. Apart from being inexpensive, it also comes in a variety of sizes and colors! Although trimming is still needed in-between applications.
5. Let It Wear Booties – apart from protecting your dog’s precious paws during snow or rain, it also becomes handy when you are worried about floor and furniture scratches.
Conclusion: Should You Declaw Your Dog?
No, there is no plausible reason why a dog should be declawed other than for adverse medical situations. Declawing a dog, and even a cat, is inhumane and will cause them so much pain! It is not the same as cutting your nails as it will require amputating their bones!
Give your dogs a favor and just let enjoy the claws given to them by nature!