Can You Declaw A Dog? (and is it even Iegal?)

In the UK, declawing isn’t really a thing anymore. For cats and dogs alike, it has been realised that it’s a damaging procedure that doesn’t benefit the animal at all – only the people that own them. Therefore, unless you are in the USA, you’re likely to find it’s illegal

You can declaw a dog. Should you? Absolutely not, unless there is a medical reason for it such as a severe infection in their paw or a cancerous tumour, or you are removing the dewclaw. It is an invasive procedure that involves removing part of their toe joint – not nice at all. 

But don’t let us stop you here. If declawing is something you have been considering, this guide is what you need to learn more about the process as well as the various pros and cons that come with it. 

Signs Your Dog May Need Declawing 

Declawing is an option if your dog has a medical condition that requires it, such as an infection in the nail beds. It is important to look out for the signs of a nail bed infection so that they can be taken to the vet, where they can determine if it is treatable or the claws will need to be removed. 

Here are some of the signs of a nail bed infection:

  • Limping 
  • Refusing to walk 
  • Red swelling around the nails 
  • Lethargy and withdrawn 
  • Sensitive or painful feet 

Your dog may growl or show aggression when you go to examine their feet, and this is a clear sign that they are in pain and need to see a vet. They may also be very subdued and withdrawn, even acting aloof with you and not wanting any attention. 

If the pain is severe, they may also stop eating or drinking. Your vet should be able to prescribe pain relief and antibiotics while they wait to see if the infection is treatable or while your dog is waiting for their surgery. 

Dogs no longer have any use for their dew claws, which is why you see very few dogs that have four of them anymore – evolution is slowly erasing them. In fact, for some dogs dewclaws are a real pain because they keep getting caught on things while they are running and playing. 

Since dew claws have no attachment to the toe joints, there is no risk of permanent pain or discomfort when they are removed. In fact, dewclaw removal is still legal and considered humane because of this. 

If your dog tends to have a lot of accidents with their dewclaws, or you have a gundog that will spend a lot of time in the undergrowth, dewclaw removal can be a great option and one that is beneficial to your dog when they are out and about. 

dog having claws trimmed

History of Declawing 

Declawing is a very controversial topic, and is actually considered animal abuse by many developing countries. This is why it is illegal in the UK, and the only country where it remains a legal practice is the USA. 

For dogs, it became a common practice in the 20th century when dog fighting was a popular sport. The dogs would be declawed so that they posed less of a risk to their handlers as well as to other dogs – namely in rigged fights. Following this, it became a veterinary practice. 

Since the procedure requires the removal of part of the toe joint, it means that your dog is likely to lead a life of pain and poor balance if all of their claws are removed. This is because there is a high risk of tiny bone particles being left behind after surgery. 

If you compare it to what would happen to a person, it would be the same as removing your first knuckle. Imagine how that would feel on all of your fingers and toes as well as how difficult it would make your life. That is why it is an outlawed procedure for dogs and cats alike. 

Pros of Declawing Your Dog 

The only pro for declawing your dog is that if they were suffering from a medical condition or an infection they would now be free from the pain it caused. While there is a risk that the declawing can cause permanent pain in their toes, they are also alive and can take pain medication

Other than this, there are no pros for declawing your dog. In the USA, they often declaw dogs and cats to keep them from ruining the furniture and hardwood floors – this is NOT a good enough reason to have the procedure carried out. 

Cons of Declawing Your Dog 

Since declawing is a major procedure, it can take them quite a while to recover and get back on their feet. They will be in pain for a few days after, and it could take more than a week for them to feel comfortable starting to walk around again. 

It can require a rehabilitation process to get them used to walking around again and help them to find balance with their missing claw (or claws depending on the severity of the infection). Of course, different dogs will have different recovery times. 

The fact that there is a high risk of bone fragments being left behind after surgery is a major con due to the amount of pain and discomfort it can end up causing your dog. You may not even notice they are in pain as they get used to it over time. 

long dog claws

What is the Cost of Declawing Your Dog 

The price for declawing will vary according to how many claws need to be removed, whether it is a dewclaw or a regular claw, as well as any other treatments that are required afterwards. We would say to expect the bill to be between £200 and £300

This takes the surgery, medication, and consultation into account. It is best to aim a little high with the price so that you aren’t left short when faced with the bill. Insurance is also a good idea as it can help to bring the price down so that you only have to pay the excess. 

Not got insurance for your dog yet? We actually have a fantastic series of guides that will help you find the best provider, coverage, and price for you and your dog. 

I know we all love to keep our dogs looking smart and groomed, So after you have cut your claws take a look what else is needed to keep your dog groomed. 


Is it bad to declaw a dog?

Definitely, it is bad to declaw a dog unless there is a specific and urgent medical need for you to do so. This is because their claws help them balance and grip, but also because to remove the claw you have to remove part of the toe joint, potentially leading to a lifetime of pain. 

How short can you cut dog nails?

How short you can cut a dog’s nails depends on where their quick is – the blood vessels that go through the claw. It is easier to see the quick on light claws than dark ones, but you will only want to cut within 2mm of the quick. Cutting the quick causes bleeding and pain for your pup. 

Read Here: Best Professional Dog Clipper Guide

Final Thoughts

Honestly, declawing is not the way to go unless there is a medical reason for it. Not only is it unnecessary, but it can lead to your dog experiencing a lifetime of pain and discomfort. Imagine if the ends of your fingers and toes were cut off, that’s exactly what it would be like for them. 

Did you find this instalment in our canine care guide series interesting? If you want to learn more about how to care for your pup, their diet, and keeping an eye on their health, you should check out the rest of the series.