Canine Dewclaw Removal/Excision

Animal Doctor provides dewclaw removal surgery for canines, when indicated. We accept referrals and provide second opinions.

Description: Dewclaws are the extra digit on the inner aspect of your dog’s legs. Most puppies are born with dewclaws on their front feet. Certain breeds are prone to have dewclaws on their back feet as well and potentially have double-dewclaws.  Most breeders have the dewclaws removed by their veterinarian within the first 5 days of life.

Symptoms & What to look for: Most dogs with dewclaws are asymptomatic unless the dewclaw becomes overgrown or fractured. Overgrown and fractured dewclaws are very painful and will likely cause your dog to limp or hold their leg up. Evaluate all four feet on your dog and see if they have the extra digit on the inner aspect of their legs. Check the nail and see if it is overgrown or curling back into their leg or paw pad. Check the dewclaw or any abnormal swelling or if it is facing an abnormal direction (not lying flat). 

How does it happen? Overgrown dewclaws are a result of not trimming the nail often enough. Fractured dewclaws are likely a result of getting caught in something and pulling (carpet).  

What questions do we ask?

  • Which toenail(s) is/are affected?
  • When did you first notice the change?
  • Any history of trauma/ do you know how it happened?
  • Describe the toenail and any changes that you have noticed over time?
  • Is your pet licking the toenail?
  • Any recent lameness or swelling noted?
  • Is there any discharge, bleeding, swelling associated with the toenail?

How do we arrive at a diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan?

  • Diagnosis is based on the physical examination findings. Appropriate treatment plan may require sedation and/or imaging to fully evaluate the extent of the damaged dewclaw.

Animal Doctor Canine Dewclaw Removal/Excision potential treatment plans?

Oral medications

  • Antibiotics to inhibit bacterial growth.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications will be prescribed to reduce inflammation and help with pain control.
  • Opioid pain medications will be prescribed if needed for extra pain control in severe cases.


  • Opioid pain medications will be given as a part of the anesthesia plan.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories might be given while under anesthesia.
  • Antibiotics might be given while under sedation/anesthesia for severe cases.

What are the risks if the dewclaw is left untreated?

The largest risk of leaving the dewclaws intact is damage or injury.