Can Dogs Get Declawed?

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Dogs run, jump and cuddle just like humans do, but can your dog also catch the same illnesses and benefit from the same modern medicines? Take declawing, for example, a procedure that should not be undertaken lightly. In cats, declawing is often used to prevent destructive scratching. In humans, declawing would equate to amputating each finger at the last knuckle because of infection or serious injury. You must take extreme caution when approaching this treatment for your pet, as there is a big question as to whether the benefits outweigh the risks. But if your dog has a nail bed infection or similar infections, is declawing even an option?

Can Dogs Get Declawed?

YES!

People may think declawing is reserved mainly for cats, who scratch uncontrollably and ruin all your furniture, but technically declawing dogs is an option in certain medical situations. It is not to be used for irritating itching, but only becomes an option if your dog is suffering from persistent, debilitating infections in their paws.

Does My Dog Need to be Declawed?

Declawing is an extremely serious and rare procedure, that can cause severe pain to your dog. However, one condition where declawing might be considered is with serious recurring nail bed infections. Does your dog constantly lick its paws? Does it have difficulty walking? Can you see your dog is suffering from visible pain in its feet? Is there swelling or redness surrounding of the tissue surrounding the nails? Is the nail an abnormal color? All of these could be symptoms that your dog is suffering with nail bed disorders and infections.

A number of things can cause nail bed problems of this type. Infection, bacterial or fungal, can be at the root of the problem. Similarly, tumors, cancer, and trauma can all cause nail bed disorders. There is also the possibility that an immune system disease, or excessive levels of growth hormones have caused the problems.

Your vet will be able to diagnose your dog’s nail bed condition. After undertaking a physical examination, your vet may take a skin scraping, plus a bacterial or fungal culture for detailed analysis. But, seeing your vet is essential, as a number of related conditions may require action.

How Do I Have My Dog Declawed?

If in the rare circumstances declawing is deemed the right course of action, what does the actual procedure entail? Your dog will be intravenously anaesthetised. Your vet will then surgically remove the infected nail and bone. Then they will place a dressing on the area and the dog may be kept in overnight for observation

Your dog will need to keep weight off that paw for a few weeks and then steadily build up weight bearing. An Elizabethan collar may also be required to prevent the dog licking the wound and getting it infected.

On the positive side, your dog should recover relatively quickly from this procedure, as long as there are no complications, such as infection. In just a few weeks to a couple of months, your dog may well be bounding around and jumping up at you again.

First-hand experiences from other owners who have had dogs suffering from similar conditions and answers to commonly asked questions by trained vets can help your understanding massively! For more info, check our guide to Digit Amputation in Dogs.

How is Declawing Similar in Dogs, Cats, and Humans?

In some ways, declawing in dogs is similar to declawing in cats, or the equivalent when humans have their fingers amputated. Some of those similarities are:

  • Symptoms of nail bed infections in both humans dogs can include inflamed, swollen nails, discoloured nails, plus pain when using the claw/hand.

  • Both humans and dogs can suffer with persistent, recurrent nail bed infections and disorders.

  • In dogs and cats, the declawing will cut at the equivalent of the first knuckle in humans.

  • Declawing in dogs can be required as a result of trauma and injury, this can also be a cause for the same amputation in humans.

How is Declawing Different in Dogs, Cats and Humans?

While we have seen some of the similarities of the procedure and symptoms in dogs, humans and other animals, there are also some striking differences. Some of these differences are:

  • It is used in dogs for recurrence of infections, whereas it is used more commonly in humans because of trauma or injury.

  • Declawing is used in dogs because persistent infections to their paws can make walking difficult and immobilize them, humans are not so restricted from finger/toe infections and problems.

  • Declawing is used much more in cats (for excessive scratching), whereas it is a much less common procedure in dogs.

Case Study

Fizzy was a 5 year old Labrador who had a persistent nail bed infection that kept coming back and kept getting worse. This was causing pain every time she walked and was affecting her quality of life. It was decided removing the nail and the bone may relieve the pain and improve her day to day life. The surgery went fine, she recovered in 7 weeks and now she can walk and get around much better and without pain. This showed there are certain, be it rare, instances where declawing can be the appropriate solution.