Dew Claws

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minkee
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Dew Claws

Post by minkee » Sun Jan 12, 2014 6:04 am

http://www.caninesports.com/uploads/1/5 ... nation.pdf

A little article on why dew claws are important. Both Breeze and Scout have their dew claws (which I'm going to start another thread about in just a minute!)
I work exclusively with canine athletes, developing rehabilitation programs for injured dogs or dogs that required
surgery as a result of performance-related injuries. I have seen many dogs now, especially field trial/hunt test and
agility dogs, that have had chronic carpal arthritis, frequently so severe that they have to be retired or at least
carefully managed for the rest of their careers. Of the over 30 dogs I have seen with carpal arthritis, only one has
had dewclaws.

If you look at an anatomy book (Miller's Guide to the Anatomy of Dogs is an excellent one – see Figure 1 below)
you will see that there are 5 tendons attached to the dewclaw. Of course, at the other end of a tendon is a muscle,
and that means that if you cut off the dew claws, there are 5 muscle bundles that will become atrophied from
disuse.

Those muscles indicate that the dewclaws have a function. That function is to prevent torque on the leg. Each
time the foot lands on the ground, particularly when the dog is cantering or galloping (see Figure 2), the dewclaw
is in touch with the ground. If the dog then needs to turn, the dewclaw digs into the ground to support the lower
leg and prevent torque. If the dog doesn't have a dewclaw, the leg twists. A lifetime of that and the result can be
carpal arthritis, or perhaps injuries to other joints, such as the elbow, shoulder and toes. Remember: the dog is
doing the activity regardless, and the pressures on the leg have to go somewhere.

Perhaps you are thinking, "None of my dogs have ever had carpal pain or arthritis." Well, we need to remember
that dogs, by their very nature, do not tell us about mild to moderate pain. If a dog was to be asked by an
emergency room nurse to give the level of his pain on a scale from 0 o 10, with 10 being the worst, their scale
would be 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Most of our dogs, especially if they deal with pain that is of gradual onset, just
deal with it and don't complain unless it is excruciating. But when I palpate the carpal joints of older dogs without
dewclaws, I frequently can elicit pain with relatively minimal manipulation.

As to the possibility of injuries to dew claws. Most veterinarians will say that such injuries actually are not very
common at all. And if they do occur, then they are dealt with like any other injury. In my opinion, it is far better to
deal with an injury than to cut the dew claws off of all dogs "just in case."

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Swanny1790
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Re: Dew Claws

Post by Swanny1790 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:34 am

Dew claw removal is a bit of a minor controversy in the sled dog world and I think it something worthy of additional research. Advocates of the procedure feel it reduces the risk of injury during 'punchy' snow conditions, in which the dew claw contacts a crust of snow as the foot sinks below the surface. They also rightfully allege that dew claws interfere with dog booties, and that booties forcing the dew claw close to the leg results in rubbing and abrasion to the fur. Although that's easily prevented by placing a cotton ball between the dew claw and leg, it becomes rather time consuming when booting up 48 or more feet on a big team, each attached to an eager, excited dog.

Opponents to the procedure are in agreement with Dr. Zink that dew claws are functional and dogs less likely to suffer 'wrist' injuries when dew claws are left intact.

Although I did remove dew claws on the only litter I've whelped thus far, I don't plan to do so with the next litter. I've learned a lot more than I knew when Orion, Capella, Cassiopeia and Midnight's Son where whelped, and my gut feeling, supported by Dr. Zink's work as well as observations of working dogs clearly using dew claws in icy conditions to prevent falls, climb over obstructions and so forth, is that they are indeed functional and valuable to the dogs. In long distance sled dog races, it is not unusual for mushers to drop dogs at checkpoints due to soft tissue injuries of the wrist. I sometimes wonder if some of those injuries could be prevented by simply leaving the dew claws intact, as wrist injuries are much more common on hard-packed, icy "fast" trails.

I have some of each in my own kennel, but I can't honestly say I've noticed a difference one way or the other. The sample size (n = 20) is just too small and causative factors of injuries can't always be readily identified.

In any event, the concern about ripped dew claws in punchy snow conditions is, today, easily remedied by dressing the lead dogs in spandex leggings, a practice that's being pioneered and advocated by my friends Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore (SP Kennel), and rapidly gaining a considerable following. The intent is to prevent "chicken leg", which occurs when the fur is rubbed off the front legs in those same punchy conditions, but it is certainly equally protective of intact dew claws.

Image

The booty issue isn't so great among recreational mushers such as myself, as we aren't running nearly so many miles at any given stretch to worry too much about wearing down our dog's pads. We only need to bootie up in extremely abrasive snow conditions usually when temperatures are minus-20F (-28C) or colder or in warm conditions where dogs are more likely to accumulate ice balls between their pads. The latter can usually (not always) be prevented by rubbing ointments such as bag-balm or just plain old petroleum jelly into the dogs feet at regular intervals while on the trail. There is a small, but growing number of long distance racing mushers who are also foregoing booties except during those conditions, alleging that the result is dogs with naturally tougher feet.
"Once infected with the mushing virus, there is no cure. There is only trail." - Sven Engholm

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Nettle
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Re: Dew Claws

Post by Nettle » Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:56 am

Dew claws are a contentious issue in my part of the working dog world too.

I always leave them on because they serve several purposes and don't IME get injured any more than any other part of the dog. Others would not have a dog that had its dews left on.

I didn't know about the arthritis side of things so thanks for adding to my knowledge bank :D

Love those leggings, Swanny. Sometimes I have to tape a leg up and I slip a tiny piece of folded kitchen paper under the dew claw. Nothing wrong with cotton wool except I can't bear to touch it :shock:
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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gwd
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Re: Dew Claws

Post by gwd » Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:35 pm

Nettle wrote: Nothing wrong with cotton wool except I can't bear to touch it :shock:
whoa, stop the train. this comment can't just be left there like a baby on a doorstep.

were you frightened by cotton ball as a child? :lol:
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Nettle
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Re: Dew Claws

Post by Nettle » Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:03 pm

No :lol: it just feels ewwwwwwww. The way fingernails on a window pane sound.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

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WufWuf
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Re: Dew Claws

Post by WufWuf » Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:29 pm

Oh Nettle my family thought that I was batty when I said that about cotton wool as a kid, even worse was super cleaned boiled cotton tea towels, uch makes me suck my teeth just thinking abouth it. (shiver)

No idea why but I don't seem to get the same thing with cotton wool now but I'm still not a fan, I'd much rather use the makeup pads than the cotton balls.
Operant conditioning rocks but classical conditioning rules

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JudyN
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Re: Dew Claws

Post by JudyN » Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:05 pm

Nettle wrote:No :lol: it just feels ewwwwwwww. The way fingernails on a window pane sound.
I'm fine with cotton wool, but microfibre cloths... or brushed nylon sheets... EEEEEEEKKKKK!!!! And if anyone pulls bobbles off a wool jumper in my presence... Ooh, just thinking about it sets my teeth on edge :x

DS2 can't touch glasses when they're just out of the dishwasher :? :?:
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Sabrina
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Re: Dew Claws

Post by Sabrina » Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:47 pm

JudyN wrote:DS2 can't touch glasses when they're just out of the dishwasher :? :?:
Me neither! :shock: *Shudder!* :shock:

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gwd
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Re: Dew Claws

Post by gwd » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:34 pm

you guys are totally weird. .......... :lol:
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