Surgery to Stop Dog Barking – The Controversy with Debarking Procedures

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The Controversy with Debarking Procedures

A barking dog is frustrating – but does that necessitate having his vocal cords removed (commonly called a de-barking surgery)?

Last week our hospital received a phone call from a prospective client inquiring as to our willingness to "debark" her dog.

So you understand, debarking (also referred to as devocalization) is a procedure designed to remove the vocal cords of dogs whose owners believe engage in excessive barking behavior.

The procedure itself is called a ventriculocordectomy (or vocal cordectomy) and the goal is to eliminate the pet's bark by removing most of the tissues he or she uses to produce sound.

In reality, however, a complete elimination of sound is considered impossible to achieve. Even so, the softening of a pet's loud, incessant barking is enough inducement for most owners who seek this procedure out.

Thankfully, debarking has gone way out of favor among veterinarians.

Here's are some considerations and my opinion about debarking procedures for dogs:

  • Debarking is considered cruel by most veterinarians. The debarking surgery is a very bad solution to what's admittedly not such a simple problem. Owners with dogs with excessive barking behaviors should look for a good dog trainer or behaviorist instead of a vet willing to perform a painful and unnecessary procedure.
  • Debarking is now outlawed in some states.
  • Most of us who deal in canine medicine view debarking surgery as "mutilation," plain and simple. That's why I've always loved Defenders of Animals' director Dennis Tabella's comments on the subject:
  • "People have to look at it this way. If they have a dog that's digging up holes in their back yard, they're not going to have the dog's legs amputated. We think devocalization is going to that type of extreme."

After all, excessive barking is a treatable behavior problem.


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