If you feel like you can no longer control your dog’s barking, then devocalization (or debark) might be the answer to your problem. Before going into the procedure, it’s important to know some of the risks, as well as ethical concerns, it poses for your pet.
Why Does My Pet Need Devocalization?
Among other animal organizations and city councils, PETA is bombarded with complaints from angry neighbors about the noise from uncontrollable canines.
If your pet causes unnecessary noise in the neighborhood, then having your pet undergo devocalization might be an option for you as a responsible pet parent.
Devocalization, put simply, is a surgical procedure where certain tissues from the sides of a dog’s vocal folds are removed. While a common misconception, this process does not completely remove the dog’s vocal box or their capacity to create sound.
Instead, only the total volume, sharpness, and pitch of a dog’s voice is decreased. For many dogs, this allows them to embrace their true bark fully, but without creating the disturbance that it can cause.
How Is Debark Done?
Devocalization is accomplished in dogs by removing the vocal cords via an oral technique performed under general anesthesia. The oral method, conducted through the dog’s mouth, is a non-invasive procedure of debarking.
After applying a short-acting injectable anesthetic, the veterinarian will use a biopsy tool to get 1 or 2 small pieces of tissue from your pet’s vocal folds.
The whole procedure takes only 1 or 2 minutes, with minimal to no bleeding. As the anesthesia wears off, your dog will try to bark, although you would notice a reduced, raspy sound.
Benefits of Devocalization
Below are the benefits you can expect to have for you and your pet after the procedure.
Removes the risk of your dog being taken away by the county.
- Able to bark freely, releasing stress
- Able to communicate without being scolded for being too noisy
- Less intimidating to your guests
- Diminishes need to train a dog to bark less
- Freedom from noise complaints
- Eases you of pain trying to silence your dog
- Maintenance of peace and order in the neighborhood
- Reduced noise and disturbances
Is Debarking Cruel to Dogs?
At its core, debarking your dog is not cruel. Pets who have undergone the procedure are reported to communicate the same way and are treated no differently from other humans and animals. There is never such a rare behavioral side effect of debarking.
However, if the dog is barking because of an underlying need or problem, such as anxiety, boredom, loneliness, or hunger, then a debarking procedure won’t help solve the underlying problem.
Is Debarking a Dog Painful?
No, debarking a dog isn’t completely painful because of the anesthesia. However, as the anesthesia wears off, it’s possible for a dog to feel some form of discomfort. A vet can provide painkillers or sedatives in such cases.
After the procedure, your pet will go through some minor pain and discomfort in the vocal region. All debarking patients are provided pain medication to help with the healing process.
What Happens to My Pet After Devocalization?
You can expect your dog to be back in good shape after the recovery period of two weeks.
While your dog’s sound may be greatly reduced, it will still be able to howl, whimper, bark, or create any sound, as they please.
How Much Does Devocalization Cost?
On average, devocalization costs anywhere from $50 to 400. The final price depends on your location, the veterinarian, and the technique.
Is Debarking Illegal?
Debarking is generally not illegal, as some American states deem devocalization legal under their laws. However, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and California have particular prohibitions about debarking.
Can You Reverse Debarking?
You can’t reverse debarking because the procedure involves removing tissues from the vocal cords. While debarking a dog is often successful, there’s a small possibility of vocal cord tissue regrowth.