Can I have my dogs voice box removed?

Devocalization (also known as ventriculocordectomy or vocal cordectomy and when performed on dogs is commonly known as debarking or bark softening) is a surgical procedure performed on dogs and cats, where tissue is removed from the animal’s vocal cords to permanently reduce the volume of its vocalizations.

The idea of removing a pet’s vocal cords may seem extreme, but it’s a procedure that is commonly done by veterinarians. Vocal cord removal, or ventriculocordectomy, is typically done to reduce or eliminate excessive barking in canines. This type of procedure is gaining more attention in recent years as owners seek ways to control their pet’s vocalizations. While the procedure can be successful in reducing or eliminating a dog’s barking, there are some important things to consider before opting for this type of surgery. This blog post will provide an overview of the procedure, potential risks and benefits, and explore the question of whether or not a pet’s voice box can be removed.

Table of Contents:

Debarking, also known as devocalization, devoicing, or bark softening, is a surgical procedure that entails removing a dog’s laryngeal tissue, making it impossible for the dog to make regular barking noises. Many people believe this procedure to be unethical or cruel, and it has generated a great deal of controversy. Certain U. S. States and counties have even gone as far as to outright prohibit the practice.

Barking is one method of dog communication. Barking serves many purposes, including:

  • Alert or alarm barking: When dogs bark related to sight and sound, often without context.
  • Attention-seeking barking
  • Boredom barking: Due to lack of mental stimulation and exercise.
  • Compulsive barking: In relation to compulsive behavior.
  • Dementia: Barking due to confusion or fear.
  • Frustration-induced barking: Usually occurs during confinement.
  • Greeting barking: When dogs bark to say “hello” to other dogs or people.
  • Noise phobia barking: Occurs in response to thunderstorms, fireworks, or other jarring noises.
  • Pain-induced barking
  • Play barking
  • Separation-anxiety barking: Occurs when dogs are left alone.
  • Socially-facilitated barking: Barking in response to other dogs barking.
  • Territorial barking : In response to outsiders approaching or invading a dog’s territory.
  • Barking is a common way for dogs to communicate, but when it becomes excessive, it’s important to understand what your dog is trying to say and think about ways to reinforce their needs more effectively. Learn more about the causes of dog barking and how to handle excessive barking here.

    There are a variety of opinions surrounding debarking surgery. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) refers to debarking as a “cruel surgery of convenience,” while other organizations call it an “unnecessary mutilation.” ”.

    Devocalization or debarking, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “should only be used as an alternative to euthanasia, after efforts to change a dog’s behavior have failed.” ”.

    Here are some facts to consider:

  • It is estimated that 3 to 8% of dogs have been evaluated by veterinarians or behaviorists for excessive barking. These numbers represent a fraction of the real problem as many clients do not seek professional help for this behavioral issue.
  • Although debarking is considered a “treatable” behavioral problem, some dogs can be difficult to train.
  • Veterinarians are not trained in veterinary school to perform this surgery and many refuse to learn.
  • Debarking is most often performed at the request of an owner due to complaints from neighbors. The debarking procedure may also be the final alternative to relinquishment of pet ownership or euthanasia.
  • Debarking surgery does not address the underlying cause for the barking.
  • Excessive barking behavior can lead to poor adoption rates at shelters.
  • Surgery has variable success. It won’t stop the urge to bark, but modify the sound produced. The results can vary from no bark to a hoarse, muffled, softer, or altered sound. Some estimate that the debarking surgery decreases the loudness of the bark by 50% in about half of dogs. Some dogs will regain the ability to bark as tissues heal.
  • There are both supporters and opponents of this procedure:

    Of course, when I say these things to my yapper, I don’t really mean it. However, I’m sure there’s a part of my mind that would prefer to never hear him speak again. The barking really does have a way of getting in your head in the nastiest of ways, and who among us living with heavy barkers hasn’t felt the weight of such vile thoughts?

    Last week, a potential customer called our hospital to ask if we would be willing to “debark” her dog.

    Now, I’m sure this didn’t go over so well. But it’s better than my initial thought, which was to call the jerk and tell him to go to hell. Who, after all, is still unaware that debarking, which is currently prohibited in some states, is a terrible solution to what is admittedly not a trivial issue?

    Which finds me of the same mind. After all, excessive barking is a treatable behavior problem.

    I bring up this contrast not because I think one procedure is more justified than the other, but rather because I’m always struck by the animosity surrounding debarking versus declawing. Given the disparity in potential suffering involved, it is absurd.

    How Do You Debark a Dog?

    There are two surgical approaches: oral and laryngotomy.

    With this technique, the surgical tools are inserted into the vocal cord region of the dog through its mouth. The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) states that although this is less invasive and typically less expensive, “it is often less successful in terms of achieving its vocal goals.”

    Additionally, it increases the likelihood of webbing, or the regrowth of scarred vocal cord tissue. This increases the risk of respiratory issues (we’ll talk about the health risks later).

    This method allows for better access to the vocal cords because the larynx is directly cut during surgery. However, the HSVMA warned that there are additional risks and potential complications because it requires a separate procedure—the laryngotomy.

    Compared to the oral method, the laryngotomy method is more invasive and typically more expensive. When an oral procedure has failed to produce the desired results or resulted in unintended consequences, it is frequently done as corrective surgery.


    How much does it cost to remove a dog’s voice box?

    Ventriculocordectomy in Dogs Cost The cheapest type of debark surgery starts at $100. The cost of the more involved neck surgery approach starts at about $300.

    What happens when you remove a dogs vocal cords?

    After vocal cord surgery, there are risks of bleeding, acute airway swelling, infection, coughing, gagging, and aspiration pneumonia. After laryngeal surgery, there is a sizable risk of developing scar tissue and glottis stenosis (narrowing of the throat).