Q. Hi Doc. I’ve recently got a new puppy, a huntaway cross. I’ve named her “Star”. She is 4 months old, mad as a meat axe and has all four of those little dangly toes still present on the inside of her paws.
I’ve been told by a “dog expert” that they have to all come off, or I’ll risk her continually catching them against things and ripping them. This would be pretty painful I imagine, especially at the speeds she travels at. I want to do the right thing by her but is this really necessary and what would be involved? Mike. Kingsland.
A. Hi Mike, in this case those dangly things are called “Dew Claws”. Sometimes they need to be surgically removed, but often they can safely be left in place. The deciding factor is really how much they protrude out to the side of the limb and therefore how likely they are to get caught on objects rushing by.
Star’s front dew claws, as with most dogs, are likely to be well attached and to sit pretty flush against her lower limbs. The front dew claws are therefore usually left intact. Conversely most hind limb dew claws stick out a lot more and are routinely removed.
This is especially noticeable if the claw is only attached by a narrow band of skin and happily flops around all over the place. Star would need to have a general anaesthetic to remove these vestigial digits. Skin-only claws can be removed very rapidly and Star would speedily recover to full speed.
Some hind dew claws are attached much more securely by a well formed bony digit complete with its own extensive blood and nerve supply. In the case of these developed bony dew claws the surgery is obviously a lot more involved. This is similar to performing a total toe amputation.
Star would be bandaged post operatively and have pain killers and anti inflammatory treatment to go home with for an enforced week of rest. Most people choose to get this dew claw surgery done at the same time as their dog is speyed or castrated. This minimizes costs and the number of anaesthetics.
Any retained deciduous teeth are usually pulled and micro chipping can be performed at the same time. Kind regards, Dr Alex Melrose. VetCare Grey Lynn.
Neutering male cats (Toms) vastly reduces the likelihood of some really undesirable behaviours. In some cases this means you have prevented your beautiful little kitten turning into a testosterone fuelled monster.
Fighting with other cats is much less likely, a big plus for the mental health of your neighbours and for the physical health of all cats nearby, not only yours. This in turn reduces the likelihood of abscesses and blood born bacteria which cause internal organ damage to the heart, kidneys and liver.
Fatal viruses such as Leukaemia and Feline Aids(spread by bites) are also much less likely to infect your furry friend. He will smell a lot less, as will his urine and will be less likely to wander, crossing dangerous roads further afield.
He is also unlikely to spray his scent and urine all over your house or prized items of furniture.
Speying female cats (Queens) is going to stop them becoming pregnant, and will do so very effectively. Cats are machines when it comes to breeding and will get pregnant very young (sometimes at less than 6 months!) and keep doing so many times a year.
In a young cat this prevents full growth and development and eats up all body reserves and weakens the immune system. This in turn exposes the young female to lots of bacterial and viral illness.
The queen will also be much more prone to physical and infectious attacks from Toms and will take off looking for a mate increasing the risk of trauma from road traffic, dog encounters and the like.