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A Guide to Trimming Dew Claws

Close up pad side of black dog paw  with a grass background

A dew claw can be called an extra toe that assists dogs in gripping objects (such as bones) and running. Although they are in the same position as the human thumb, dew claws lack the use and mobility of an actual thumb. Just like other dog nails, an overgrown dew claw can also lead to an injury. Therefore, regular maintenance of these claws is necessary to keep your pup safe. Keep reading to know all the details about trimming dew claws.

Should You Trim Dew Claws?

It is extremely important to trim dew claws because they can get snagged on carpets and even break. Long dog nails tend to break easily and can create a split toenail. In extreme cases, you may have to rush your dog to the vet to get the nail removed. Not only is it painful for your pooch, but the removal procedure is also quite expensive.

Dew claws are less prone to wear and tear because they don’t hit the ground, directly. Therefore, they tend to grow quicker than normal nails. Unattended dew claws can curl up into your dog’s toepad because they grow circularly. It becomes a lot harder to trim such nails as there are more chances of hurting your pup.

How Often Should You Trim Dew Claws?

Blurred image of a calendar

Many dog owners go too long between trimming dew claws, without realizing its consequences. Just like human fingernails, your dog’s nails (including the dew claw), are constantly growing. Therefore, dew claws should be trimmed every 3 to 4 weeks. Delaying any longer can cause an ingrown nail that may require a veterinary procedure to remove.

How to Trim Dew Claws?

Trimming dew claws is usually easier than clipping other dog nails. Walkerville Vet explains that you should run a finger along the edge of the nail to check if it needs trimming. If the claw catches your finger, it needs trimming. You can use either a guillotine trimmer or a scissor trimmer for cutting dew claws. Just make sure not to cut it too short because it can cause bleeding and pain to your dog.

Calm Your Dog

Puppy being calmed by a human hand

 It is crucial to make your dog calm and distracted while cutting his/her nails. Therefore, make sure you have a few treats on hand before you start using the dog nail clipper. This is particularly important for canines who are not used to getting their nails trimmed.

Choose the Right Dog Nail Clipper 

 The selection of the right tool is instrumental in making it a positive experience for your dog (and yourself). Generally, guillotine clippers are used for trimming thin nails while scissor nail clippers work best for bigger and thicker nails. Also, make sure to use a high-quality clipper that has sharp blades.

If you just want to file your dog’s dew claw, a grinding tool may get the job done. Essentially, grinding tools are not nail clippers as they are used to slowly file down a dog’s nail. Grinding tools are generally safer and easier to use than regular clippers.

Trim the Dew Claw

Close up of dog paw with long dew claw

Always use your dominant hand to cut the dog nails when using regular clippers. Make sure that your pup is relaxed, angle the blade at 90 degrees, and cut off the nail. It’s good to have some treats on hand, in case your dog gets uncomfortable during the procedure. Never be harsh with your dog while trimming dew claws.

How Do You Cut Curled Dew Claws?

Dew claws are a bit flexible, and it is possible to curl them away from the body. This allows you to fit a trimmer between the claw and the nail bed. Cuteness suggests that you should always curl the claw away from the body before cutting or trimming it.

Start with small cuts to make sure that you don’t cut your dog’s quick (a blood vessel). If your dog has white claws, the quick is easier to locate (pink dot) than black nails. However, it’s always recommended (irrespective of claw color) to make several cuts to trim the dew claw without bleeding. Likewise, it is a good idea to have styptic powder on hand to stop the bleeding.

Is it Okay to Remove Dew Claws?

Vet holding up paw of dog with stitches where dew claw has been removed

This is a rather controversial topic among dog owners. Some say dew claws should be removed while others are strictly against it and consider it a form of mutilation. Certain breed standards require dewclaws to be removed entirely, and some dedicated breeders stand by the removal of these claws. However, others remain adamant that dewclaws should only be removed if they cause problems.

Generally, the canines that take part in dog sports have their dew claws removed. This allows them to turn sharply at high speeds. Sometimes, dewclaws are also removed for aesthetic purposes in dog shows.

The decision to remove dew claws is up to the dog owner. If you can trim them regularly, you don’t need to go for the removal of dew claws. Contrastingly, removing them will be a better alternative if you can’t groom them properly. After all, having no dew claws is better than suffering from an overgrown one.

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