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3 min read

Can Dogs Get Declawed?


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The procedure of removing a dog's claws is called an onychectomy and is described as such in cats, too.  In cats, declawing is often used to prevent destructive scratching whereas in canines, the procedure is undertaken for medical reasons. You must take extreme caution when approaching this treatment for your dog, as there is a big question as to whether the benefits outweigh the risks. Generally, veterinarians consider this procedure for canines a last resort for treating serious claw issues.

Can Dogs Get Declawed?

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

Both the declawing of cats and dogs is something not to be taken lightly. There are many reasons not to declaw a cat. Today, veterinarians often refuse to do the procedure unless absolutely necessary and will suggest better options for owners of felines. In the case of dogs, the operation is done when there is a serious health issue.

Does My Dog Need to be Declawed?

Declawing is an extremely serious and rare procedure that can cause severe pain for your dog. However, one condition where declawing might be considered is with serious recurring nail bed infections. Does your dog constantly lick their paws? Do they have difficulty walking? Can you see your dog is suffering from visible pain? Is there swelling or redness of the tissue surrounding the nails? Is the nail an abnormal color? These could be symptoms of a nail bed disorder or infection.

A number of things can cause nail bed problems of this type. Infection, whether 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 can 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. In some cases, a biopsy may be suggested to see the extent of the infection in the bone. Seeing the vet is essential, as a number of related conditions may require action.

How Do I Have My Dog Declawed?

If in the rare circumstance that 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 your companion will be kept overnight for observation. The veterinarian will determine your pet's pain level before allowing them to return home. If the pain is such that it needs monitoring and heavy medication, your vet may keep your dog longer.

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 your pooch from licking the wound, which may allow bacteria to enter. 

Recovery may be slow. The nail of a canine is more than just for scratching. Your furry buddy uses their claws for holding toys, for balance, and for climbing hills when you are out for a jog. The removal of even one claw takes getting used to for your pet.

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.

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