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Did you know that dogs have a hidden secret on their paws? These secrets are their dew claws, specifically the front dew claw and the rear dew claw. These intriguing appendages are found on the inner side of a dog’s paw. While they may seem insignificant, these small bones, encapsulated by skin, play a vital role in a dog’s overall movement and well-being. In fact, some pet grooming practices may include dew claw removal, although it’s a subject of much debate.

Dewclaws are not just an extra part of dogs’ anatomy; they serve a purpose for their front feet and back paws. They help provide stability during sharp turns or sudden stops, acting as an anchor for the leg muscles. Dewclaws can aid in gripping objects or climbing certain terrains, making nail trimming essential.

However, like any body part, dewclaws and back paws are susceptible to infections if not properly cared for. The exposed tissue around them can easily get injured or develop infections due to dirt and debris. Regular nail trimming, cleaning, and monitoring can help prevent such issues and ensure your pet grooming routine keeps your pup’s skin healthy and happy.

Understanding the function of dewclaws is essential for all dog owners, breeders, and groomers. By recognizing their significance, you can provide better care for your animals and keep them safe from potential infections or injuries. Make sure to regularly trim your pet’s nails to prevent any issues.

So, let’s dive deeper into this fascinating topic of dewclaws and discover how they contribute to our canine companions‘ lives. Whether you have a pet grooming routine or rely on licensed pet groomers, understanding the importance of dewclaws is crucial. It’s also essential to consult with breeders and your vet to ensure proper care for your furry friends.

What are Dewclaws and Why Do Dogs Have Them?

Dewclaws, also known as vestigial digits, are nail-like structures found on a dog’s leg. They can be present in both the front and rear legs, although some dogs may not have them at all. The presence of dewclaws is believed to be an evolutionary remnant from ancestral dogs. Pet grooming, vets, and breeders often take care of these nails.

Dogs typically have four primary claws on their front paws and four more on their back paws. However, in addition to these primary claws, some dogs also possess dewclaws. These are smaller digits located higher up on the leg, usually above the paw. It is important to regularly trim your dog’s nails to avoid discomfort or potential injury. You can do this yourself or take your pet to a professional pet grooming service or a vet for nail trimming.

Front Dewclaws

Front dewclaws can vary in size and shape among different dog breeds. Some dogs may have single dewclaws on each front leg, while others might have double dewclaws. Double dewclaws, which are important for pet grooming, refer to the presence of two separate digits with nails attached. This is a crucial step for groomers to take care of the dog’s thumb-like appendages.

The purpose of front dewclaws in dogs is still debated among pet grooming experts. One theory suggests that they provide additional grip when dogs navigate rough terrains or engage in activities like climbing or running through dense vegetation. It’s believed that these extra claws help dogs maintain stability and balance during such movements, making them important for groomers to trim during pet grooming sessions.

Rear Dewclaws

Rear dewclaws, also known as v4 dewclaws, are less common than front ones but can be found in certain breeds such as Great Pyrenees, Briards, and Beaucerons. Similar to front dewclaws, rear ones can also vary in size and shape. Groomers often trim the nails on all four dewclaws to keep them at a comfortable length.

While the function of rear dewclaws is not entirely clear, some theories suggest they may serve a purpose for certain tasks or environments. For example, it has been proposed that rear dewclaws could assist working dogs when gripping objects or provide additional traction when navigating slippery surfaces. This could be especially important for dogs that have a groomer trim their nails regularly.

However, it’s important to note that not all dogs possess rear dewclaws. In fact, many breed standards consider them undesirable traits and may even recommend their removal for certain breeds. This is especially true when it comes to the v4 breed, as their breed standard specifically mentions the removal of rear dewclaws. So, if you’re considering getting a v4 dog, make sure to check if they have rear dewclaws before making your decision.

Potential Issues

Dewclaws, also known as thumb nails, can sometimes cause problems for dogs. Due to their higher position on the leg, they are more prone to injury compared to the primary claws on the paws. For example, a dog’s dewclaw, or v4 nail, may get caught on objects or accidentally torn during physical activities.

In some cases, the nail on the dewclaw, also known as the thumb, might grow too long and curl back towards the leg. This can cause discomfort or even result in the nail becoming embedded in the surrounding tissue. Regular trimming of the dewclaw is a necessary step to prevent these issues.

If a dog experiences repeated injuries or complications associated with their dewclaws, some veterinarians may recommend surgically removing the nail. However, this step should be made in consultation with a veterinarian and based on individual circumstances.

The Importance of Dewclaws for Canine Locomotion:

Dewclaws, those small appendages found on the front legs and sometimes on the rear feet of dogs, play a crucial role in their overall locomotion. The nail on the dewclaw, specifically the thumb nail, is a key step in maintaining balance, stability, and agility during movement. While some may consider them vestigial or unnecessary, dewclaws actually serve important purposes that contribute to a dog’s balance, stability, and agility during movement.

1. Dewclaws contribute to a dog’s balance and stability during movement.

Just like the nail on our thumb provides stability, dewclaws function similarly for dogs. These extra digits, also known as v4, extend from the lower part of their front legs and act as an additional point of contact with the ground. When traversing rough terrain or uneven surfaces, dewclaws help distribute the weight more evenly across their front feet.

2. They provide additional traction when running, turning, or changing direction quickly.

When dogs engage in high-speed activities such as running or participating in agility sports, they heavily rely on their dewclaws for added traction. These small claws, also known as nails, dig into the ground during sharp turns or sudden changes in direction, providing better grip and preventing slipping. Without dewclaws, also called step v4, to anchor them firmly while making swift movements, dogs might experience reduced maneuverability and compromised performance.

3. Without dewclaws, dogs may experience reduced agility and potential joint strain.

Dewclaws, also known as nail, play a crucial step in a dog’s leg structure. They help distribute forces evenly across joints, providing v4 shock absorption during jumps and leaps. Dogs without these essential digits may experience increased stress on their joints, leading to strain or injuries such as sprains or fractures.

How to Care for Your Dog’s Dew Claw: 10 Essential Steps

Regularly inspecting your dog’s front and rear dewclaws is an important part of their overall care. These small, often overlooked nails can be prone to injury and infection if not properly maintained. To ensure your furry friend stays happy and healthy, follow these ten essential steps for dewclaw care and consider dewclaw removal if necessary.

  1. Inspect Regularly: Take the time to regularly examine your dog’s dew claws for any signs of injury or infection. Look for redness, swelling, discharge, or any other abnormalities that may indicate a problem. Catching issues early can prevent them from escalating into more serious conditions.
  2. Trim Nails: Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is crucial in preventing overgrowth and discomfort. This applies to their dew claws as well. Use a pair of dog nail clippers or a grinder specifically designed for pets to trim the nails carefully. Be cautious not to cut too close to the quick, which can cause pain and bleeding.
  3. Handle with Care: When grooming or handling your dog, be mindful of the delicate nature of their dew claws. Avoid applying excessive force or pressure on these small appendages, as they can easily become injured or fractured.
  4. Clean Thoroughly: Cleaning your dog’s dew claws regularly helps prevent dirt and debris buildup that could lead to infections. Use a mild pet-friendly cleanser and gently wipe around the area using a clean cloth or cotton ball.
  5. Watch for Signs of Injury: Dogs are naturally active creatures, so it’s essential to keep an eye out for any signs of injury involving their dew claws during playtime or outdoor adventures. If you notice limping, favoring one paw over another, excessive licking at the claw area, or visible cuts or tears, seek veterinary attention promptly.
  6. Avoid Excessive Chewing: Some dogs have a tendency to chew on their dew claws excessively, which can lead to irritation and injury. If you notice your dog engaging in this behavior, consider using a deterrent spray or consult with a veterinarian for advice on how to discourage the habit.
  7. Protect During Activities: Certain activities, such as hiking or running on rough terrain, can put extra strain on your dog’s dew claws. To prevent injuries, consider using protective boots or wraps designed specifically for dogs to provide an extra layer of cushioning and support.
  8. Maintain Good Hygiene: Maintaining good overall hygiene is essential for preventing infections around the dew claw area. Regularly bathe your dog using a mild shampoo formulated for pets and ensure that the area around the dew claws is thoroughly dried afterward.
  9. Address Any Issues Promptly: If you notice any signs of infection, injury, or discomfort related to your dog’s dew claws, don’t delay in seeking veterinary care. A professional will be able to assess the situation accurately and provide appropriate treatment options.
  10. Consult with Your Vet: Every dog is unique, and some may require specific care instructions based on their breed or individual needs. Consult with your veterinarian regularly to ensure you are providing optimal care for your furry companion’s dew claws.

By following these ten essential steps for caring for your dog’s dewclaw, you can help prevent potential problems and keep them happy and healthy throughout their lives.

Understanding the Function of Dewclaws in Dogs:

Dewclaws, those small appendages located on the inner side of a dog’s leg above the paw, serve a crucial step in their everyday activities. While some may view them as mere vestigial remnants, these seemingly insignificant claws play an essential role in a dog’s life. Let’s delve into the various functions of dewclaws and understand why they are more than just an extra digit.

Aiding Grip and Manipulation:

One primary function of dewclaws is to aid dogs in gripping objects such as toys or bones. Unlike humans who rely solely on their hands for grasping, dogs lack opposable thumbs. However, with the help of their dewclaws, they can securely hold onto items while playing or chewing. This additional digit acts as a step thumb-like structure, providing dogs with enhanced dexterity and control over objects they interact with.

Assisting in Climbing and Navigating Uneven Terrain:

Another significant advantage offered by dewclaws is their assistance in navigating through uneven terrain. Dogs are natural explorers, often venturing into challenging environments like forests or mountainsides. In such situations, dewclaws come into play as an extra step of contact with surfaces. They provide dogs with increased stability and support while traversing steep slopes or rocky landscapes.

Maintaining Balance on Slippery Surfaces:

The flexibility of dewclaws proves invaluable step. Whether it’s hardwood floors at home or wet pavements during rainy walks, these tiny claws offer dogs an added advantage by acting as traction enhancers. By digging their dewclaws slightly into the surface beneath them, dogs can prevent slipping and sliding accidents that could potentially lead to injuries.

In addition to these primary functions, there is another noteworthy step related to dewclaws that deserves attention.

  • Breed Variations: The presence and structure of dewclaws can vary among different dog breeds. Some breeds have double dewclaws on their hind legs, while others may have them removed for specific purposes, such as preventing injuries during certain working activities.
  • Potential Health Concerns: Dewclaws are susceptible to injury due to their exposed position. Dogs can catch them on objects or accidentally tear them while running or playing. In some cases, dewclaw injuries may require veterinary attention to prevent infection or further complications.
  • Grooming Considerations: Regular grooming is essential to maintain the health and hygiene of dewclaws. Trimming the claws and ensuring they remain clean helps prevent dirt accumulation and reduces the risk of infections.

Understanding the functions of dewclaws in dogs allows us to appreciate their significance beyond being a mere vestigial digit. Whether it’s aiding grip, assisting in navigating challenging terrains, or maintaining balance on slippery surfaces, these small appendages play an important role in enhancing a dog’s overall agility and well-being. So next time you notice your furry companion using their dewclaws with finesse, remember how these seemingly insignificant claws contribute to their everyday adventures.

Step-by-step Guide for Proper Dew Claw Care and Maintenance:

Proper care and maintenance of your pet’s dew claw is essential to ensure their overall well-being. Neglecting this small but crucial part of their body can lead to discomfort, infections, and even the need for dew claw removal. In this guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of caring for your pet’s dew claw, keeping it in the best possible condition.

Clean around the base of the dew claw using mild soap and water regularly.

Regular cleaning is vital to prevent dirt and bacteria buildup around the base of your pet’s dew claw. Start by gathering a mild soap, warm water, and a clean cloth or cotton ball. Gently wet the cloth or cotton ball with soapy water and carefully wipe around the area where the dew claw connects to your pet’s leg. Ensure you reach all angles while being gentle to avoid causing any discomfort.

Gently trim any excess hair around the area to prevent matting or trapping debris.

Excess hair around the dew claw can easily become matted or trap debris such as dirt, twigs, or even feces. Using a pair of blunt-edged scissors or grooming clippers designed for pets, carefully trim any long hairs surrounding the dew claw. Take caution not to cut too close to avoid accidental injury. By keeping this area free from excessive hair growth, you reduce the risk of potential problems.

Apply pet-safe antiseptic if there are any cuts, scrapes, or signs of infection.

It is essential to monitor your pet’s dew claws regularly for any signs of cuts, scrapes, redness, swelling, or discharge. If you notice any abnormalities indicating an infection or injury such as bleeding or pus formation, it is crucial to take immediate action. First and foremost, gently clean the affected area with mild soap and water. Then apply a pet-safe antiseptic recommended by your veterinarian to prevent further infection. Remember, it is always best to consult with a professional if you are unsure about the severity of the condition.

Keep the dew claw at the right length to avoid discomfort or injury.

Maintaining an appropriate length for your pet’s dew claw is crucial in preventing discomfort and potential injuries. Regularly check the length of their dew claws and trim them if necessary. Be cautious not to cut too close to the quick, which can cause bleeding and pain. If you are uncertain about how much to trim, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian who can provide guidance based on your pet’s specific needs.

By following this step-by-step guide for proper dew claw care and maintenance, you can ensure that your pet remains comfortable and free from potential complications. Remember, investing time in caring for your pet’s dew claws will contribute to their overall health and well-being.

The Significance of Dewclaws in Canine Anatomy and Movement:

Dewclaws are a unique feature found in dogs, attached to their legs by a small bone called the metacarpal or metatarsal. While some people may view dewclaws as unnecessary or vestigial, they actually serve several important functions in a dog’s anatomy and movement. Let’s explore the significance of dewclaws in more detail.

Additional Support for Leg Structure

One of the primary roles of dewclaws is to provide additional support to the leg structure. These claws act as an anchor, connecting to bones and muscles within the leg. This added stability helps dogs maintain balance during various activities such as running, jumping, and turning quickly. Without dewclaws, dogs may experience reduced stability, potentially leading to injuries or difficulty performing certain movements.

Enhancing Overall Stability

In addition to providing support, dewclaws contribute to overall stability in a dog’s leg structure. As dogs move, especially at higher speeds or on uneven terrain, their limbs undergo significant stress and strain. Dewclaws help distribute this pressure across multiple points of contact with the ground, reducing the strain on individual bones and joints. This enhanced stability allows dogs to navigate challenging environments with greater ease and agility.

Maintaining Balance during Intricate Movements

Dogs often engage in intricate movements that require precise coordination and balance. Whether it’s climbing over obstacles or grasping objects with their paws, dewclaws play a crucial role in maintaining balance during these activities. These extra digits provide dogs with increased grip and control over their movements, allowing them to execute complex maneuvers effectively.

While some dog breeds have dewclaws removed due to breed standards or potential injury risks (such as catching on objects), it’s essential to recognize that removing these claws can impact a dog’s natural abilities.

Tips for Preventing Dew Claw Injuries in Your Dog:

Dewclaws are the small, non-weight-bearing claws located on the inner side of your dog’s front legs and sometimes on their hind legs as well. While dewclaws can serve a purpose in providing stability during certain activities, they are also prone to injuries. Here are some tips to help prevent dew claw injuries in your furry friend:

  • Avoid letting your dog engage in activities that may put excessive stress on their dew claws. Dogs love to run and play, but certain activities can put undue strain on their dewclaws, increasing the risk of injury. Encourage your dog to participate in low-impact exercises such as swimming or walking instead of high-impact activities like jumping or intense agility training.
  • Provide appropriate footwear or protective gear during outdoor adventures or sports. Just like we wear shoes to protect our feet, dogs can benefit from wearing boots or paw protectors during outdoor activities. These accessories provide an extra layer of protection for their paws, including the delicate dewclaws.
  • Regularly check for any signs of discomfort, swelling, or limping after physical activity. After a vigorous play session or exercise routine, it’s essential to inspect your dog’s paws for any signs of distress. Look out for redness, swelling, tenderness, or limping as these could indicate an injury to the dewclaw area.

Dewclaw injuries can range from minor cuts and abrasions to more severe sprains and fractures. By following these preventative measures and being attentive to your dog’s needs, you can significantly reduce the risk of such injuries occurring.

If you notice that your dog’s nails have become overgrown or sharp, consider regular nail trimming as part of your preventive care routine. Long nails increase the likelihood of catching on objects and potentially causing damage to the dewclaw area.

In case your dog does experience a dewclaw injury, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. Your veterinarian can assess the severity of the injury and provide appropriate treatment, which may include cleaning, bandaging, or even surgical intervention if necessary.

Remember that each dog is unique, and their activity levels and individual needs may vary. It’s essential to tailor preventive measures based on your dog’s specific circumstances. Consulting with a veterinarian can help you develop a customized plan to protect your furry companion from dewclaw injuries.

The Role of Dewclaws in a Dog’s Grip and Stability:

Dewclaws act as an anchor point, improving a dog’s grip when holding objects.

Dogs rely heavily on their paws. Beyond the primary set of claws, dogs possess an additional digit known as the dewclaw. Situated higher up on the leg, this extra “thumb” plays a crucial role in enhancing a dog’s grip. Just like our own hands, which have five fingers for added dexterity, dewclaws provide dogs with increased control and stability when holding onto things.

Imagine your furry friend playing tug-of-war with their favorite toy. As they clamp down on it with their jaws, their front paws come into play too. The dewclaw digs into the surface of the object, acting as an anchor point that prevents slippage. This gripping mechanism allows dogs to maintain a firm hold on toys, bones, or even food bowls. Without dewclaws, canines might struggle to keep a tight grasp on objects during playtime or while eating.

Dew claw removal aids in maintaining stability while standing on hind legs or reaching out with front paws.

Have you ever noticed how some dogs effortlessly balance themselves while standing tall on their hind legs? Their ability to perform this feat is partly attributed to their dewclaws. When dogs stand upright or reach out with their front paws to explore something new, these tiny appendages come into action as stabilizers.

The dewclaw serves as an extension of the paw itself. It adds an extra point of contact with the ground, increasing overall stability and preventing unnecessary wobbling or slipping. This is particularly useful for larger dog breeds that rely heavily on their front limbs for various activities such as digging holes or climbing obstacles. With intact dewclaws intact, these canines exhibit better control over their movements and are less likely to lose balance.

Dogs with intact dewclaws often exhibit better control over their movements.

In the world of dog shows, where every movement is scrutinized, having intact dewclaws is considered desirable. These tiny digits provide dogs with an added advantage in terms of both aesthetics and functionality. When a dog trots around the show ring, judges take note of their overall gait and coordination. Dogs with well-developed dewclaws demonstrate enhanced control over their movements, which is highly valued in these competitive settings.

The dewclaw acts as a natural stopper pad that absorbs pressure while running or changing direction swiftly. This prevents excessive strain on the nail bed and reduces the risk of injury. During sharp turns or sudden stops, the dewclaw digs into the ground, acting as a pivot point to aid in balance and agility.

Maintaining Healthy Dew Claws: Dos and Don’ts for Dog Owners

Do keep the area around the dew claw clean and free from debris.

Keeping the area around your dog’s dew claw clean is essential for maintaining their overall paw health. Dirt, mud, and other debris can accumulate around the dew claw, leading to irritation and potential infection. Regularly inspect the area and gently wipe it with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or foreign objects. If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors or in muddy areas, you may need to clean the area more frequently.

Don’t attempt to remove dew claws without proper veterinary guidance.

Dew claws are often misunderstood by pet owners, leading some to consider removing them entirely. However, it’s crucial not to attempt this without proper veterinary guidance. Dew claws serve a purpose for dogs, providing extra stability when running or turning quickly. Removing them can cause unnecessary pain and affect your dog’s balance. Consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions regarding dew claw removal.

Do seek immediate veterinary attention if there are signs of injury or infection.

Injuries or infections involving the dew claw should never be ignored. If you notice any swelling, redness, discharge, or your dog appears to be in pain when touching their paw, it’s important to seek immediate veterinary attention. Infections can quickly worsen if left untreated and may require antibiotics or other medical interventions. Your veterinarian will be able to properly assess the situation and provide appropriate treatment options.

Pet owners play a vital role in ensuring their furry friends’ well-being. By following these dos and don’ts, you can help prevent issues related to their dew claws:

  • Do: Regularly inspect the area around the dew claw.
  • Do: Gently wipe away any dirt or debris using a damp cloth.
  • Don’t: Attempt to remove dew claws without consulting a veterinarian.
  • Do: Seek immediate veterinary attention if there are signs of injury or infection.

Remember, your dog’s dew claws serve a purpose and should not be removed without proper guidance. If you have any concerns or questions about your dog’s dew claws, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian. They can provide expert advice tailored to your pet’s specific needs.

Exploring the Different Types of Dewclaw Removal Procedures

Surgical removal is commonly performed on puppies within a few days old to prevent future complications. This procedure involves the complete removal of the dew claw, which is a small, non-functional digit located on the inside of a dog’s front or hind leg. The primary reason for this early intervention is to avoid potential issues that may arise later in life.

Some breeds undergo partial removal if their dew claws are prone to injuries due to conformation issues. For example, certain breeds with long, floppy ears may be more susceptible to accidentally snagging their dew claws on objects while playing or running. In such cases, veterinarians may opt for a partial removal procedure in which only a portion of the dew claw is removed. This helps minimize the risk of injury without completely eliminating the dew claw.

Full removal may be necessary if a dog experiences repeated injuries or infections related to their dew claws. In some instances, dogs may have poorly positioned or loosely attached dew claws that become easily caught on surfaces or tangled in fur. These constant traumas can lead to painful injuries and recurring infections. To alleviate these problems and improve the dog’s quality of life, veterinarians may recommend full removal under general anesthesia.

Thorough research and careful consideration should be undertaken by both pet owners and veterinarians alike. It is important for individuals involved in this decision-making process to understand that removing a dog’s dew claws is not without risks and potential complications.

The use of general anesthesia or general anaesthetic during dew claw removal procedures ensures that dogs are unconscious and pain-free throughout the surgery. Veterinarians will administer appropriate anesthetics for dew claw removal based on each individual dog’s health condition and requirements.

Embracing the Unique Value of Dewclaws in Dogs:

In conclusion, dewclaws play a significant role in a dog’s anatomy and movement. They provide additional grip and stability, especially during activities such as running, turning, and climbing. Proper care and maintenance of dewclaws are essential to prevent injuries and discomfort for your furry friend. By following the steps outlined in our guide, you can ensure that your dog’s dew claws remain healthy and functional.

It is important to remember that removing dewclaws should only be done when medically necessary and under the guidance of a veterinarian. The different types of removal procedures should be thoroughly understood before making any decisions.

To summarize, understanding the function and significance of dewclaws allows us to appreciate their unique value in canine locomotion. By providing proper care, we can help our dogs maintain optimal health and well-being.

Call-to-action: Take the time to examine your dog’s dew claws regularly and follow the recommended care steps provided in this guide. If you notice any signs of injury or discomfort, consult with a veterinarian immediately.


Q: Are all dogs born with dewclaws?

A: No, not all dogs are born with dewclaws. Some breeds have them naturally while others may have had them removed at an early age for various reasons.

Q: Can I trim my dog’s dew claws myself?

A: It is generally recommended to have a professional groomer or veterinarian trim your dog’s dew claws to avoid any accidental injuries or pain caused by improper trimming techniques.

Q: Can a dog live comfortably without its dew claws?

A: Yes, most dogs can live comfortably without their dew claws if they have been properly removed or if they were never present to begin with. However, it is important to ensure that there are no complications or issues arising from their absence.

Q: How often should I check my dog’s dew claws?

A: It is advisable to check your dog’s dew claws during regular grooming sessions or at least once a month. This allows you to spot any signs of injury, infection, or overgrowth that may require attention.

Q: What should I do if my dog injures its dew claw?

A: If your dog injures its dew claw, it is best to seek veterinary assistance. The veterinarian will assess the severity of the injury and provide appropriate treatment, which may include cleaning, bandaging, or even surgical intervention if necessary.

Q: Can dogs use their dew claws for gripping objects?

A: Yes, dogs can use their dew claws for gripping objects. They provide additional traction and stability when a dog needs to hold onto something firmly, such as when climbing or grasping toys.

Q: Are there any specific breeds that heavily rely on their dew claws?

A: While all dogs can benefit from having functional dewclaws, certain breeds that are more active or have specific tasks may rely on them more. Breeds like Great Pyrenees and Briards often use their dewclaws for added support during herding activities.

These FAQs aim to address common concerns regarding the care and importance of dewclaws in dogs. By understanding these aspects, you can make informed decisions about maintaining your dog’s well-being.

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