The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Does Your Pet Have an Extra Toe? – It is Called a Dewclaw

Monday, November 13, 2017

Does Your Pet Have an Extra Toe? – It is Called a Dewclaw

I will start off first by identifying the additional toe that your pet has…it is not a toe as I have heard people say, it is call a dewclaw.

What is a Dewclaw?

A dewclaw, commonly referred to as a Dog's thumb, is a vestigial digit  on the foot of many mammals, birds, and reptiles (including some extinct orders, like certain theropods). It commonly grows high on the leg so that in digitigrade species, when the animal is standing, it does not make contact with the ground. Dewclaws are perhaps best known in dogs, and they are often removed in young puppies, though there is debate on whether this is necessary.

I was first told about a dewclaw from my vet when I took my puppy to get shots. I asked him why he had an extra toe. He informed me that it was not a toe….”dogs don’t have toes”, he said. Then he got serious and explained what a dewclaw was and that I had the choice to have it removed. Because my dogs fur covered their dewclaws he told me to always call it to the attention of the groomer.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)  says, don’t forget to trim your dog’s dewclaws as well. Most dogs just have dewclaws on their front legs, but some dogs have one, and sometimes even two, sets of dewclaws on their rear legs. If your dog doesn’t have dewclaws on his front legs, he had them surgically removed earlier in his life.

What do you if your dogs dewclaw broke and hanging?

Do not pull or cut unless you can see that it is almost not attached. It is preferable to bandage the part of the leg for giving time to it falls by itself.
Veterinarian Chevy Chase, MD

Polydactyl Cats

A polydactyl cat is a cat with a congenital physical anomaly called polydactyly (or polydactylism, also known as hyperdactyly), a type of cat body type genetic mutation that causes the cat to be born with more than the usual number of toes on one or more of its paws. Cats with this genetically inherited trait are most commonly found along the East Coast of North America (in the United States and Canada) and in South West England and Wales.


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