Debarking

Recently, debarking dogs has become controversial.  This is too bad. Many times, it is the only way an owner can keep their pet.  Some dogs just love the sound of their own voice and no matter what training or behavior modification takes place, they continue to bark.  Dog barks, neighbors complain, and it can come down to a choice – have the dog debarked or get rid of the dog.

The New York Times just had an article, written by veterinarian Dr. Sharon Vanderlip, answering readers questions about debarking or devocalization.  Here are some excerpts from the article:

….bark softening procedure is noninvasive and takes one to two minutes to perform, using a very short-acting injectable anesthetic. In this technique, the dog’s mouth is opened and a very small piece of tissue is taken from one or both vocal folds, using a slender biopsy instrument. When correctly done, there is little to no bleeding or discomfort. Pain killers (analgesia) should always be given, however, as a precaution. Recovery takes place within a few minutes and the dog is able to eat and drink immediately. There is no change in the dog’s behavior or attitude. The dog can and does continue to bark, but the bark is roughly half as loud as it was before the procedure…..

Although problems seldom occur, spays and neuters carry the risks associated with longer anesthesia time and the risks of surgical complications, such as infection, hemorrhage, cardiac arrest and death.  Spay and neuter procedures may have long-term side-effects later in life, such as urinary incontinence, cancer and hormonal imbalances….

Bark softening by oral technique differs from spay and neuter procedures in that it is noninvasive, takes about two minutes to perform and uses a short-acting injectable anesthetic that lasts about five to seven minutes. If done correctly, it has no side effects except that the dog has a quieter bark.

Debarking may not be everyone’s choice, but for some dogs it is a life saver.

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