Debark Pets Only After Careful Consideration
Q: We are wondering if having our noisy little Pomeranian debarked will be harmful for her. We live in an apartment complex that has noise policies and we are worried about getting kicked out if we do not do something soon about our dog’s barking. We love our dog and do not want to do anything to her that will be harmful.
A: Although debarking of dogs by surgically removing their vocal cords has been done for many years in large kennels and research facilities, this procedure should not be done without much consideration of alternative means to control barking in pets.
Many pet owners do not realize that debarking does not entirely remove the ability for a dog to make vocal sounds. The abnormal noises made by debarked dogs is extremely irritating to many people. It must also be remembered that over time the vocal cords of some debarked dogs regenerate and the dog regains the ability to bark. Therefore, the procedure is only temporary in some dogs.
Consulting an animal behaviorist or your veterinarian about behavioral debarking is advisable. This will involve rewarding your dog for not barking and punishing her for barking at inappropriate times. Devices, such as sound emitters or shock collars, designed to distract dogs whenever they bark, are often effective. These devices are fitted so that they are activated whenever the dog’s throat starts to vibrate at the beginning of a bark. Placing your dog in a crate in the innermost area of your apartment while you are gone might minimize the irritation that barking causes for your neighbors.
Before having your dog surgically debarked you should observe some dogs that have had this procedure. You might find that the vocal sounds that these dogs make are unacceptable. Likewise, you should talk to some owners of debarked dogs about any personality changes that occurred following the procedure. Your veterinarian can help you decide how to best handle your dog’s barking problem.
Q: We have noticed that after playing outside for several hours during the day that our light-colored dog’s skin appears to be reddened and she is a little sore when we cuddle with her. Is it possible that she gets sunburned?
A: It is quite possible that your light-colored dog is getting sunburned while playing outside for several hours in the sun. Sunburning in dogs can lead to serious problems such as intense pain, skin peeling, sores that can become infected and skin cancer. Unprotected areas such as the nose and lips are particularly vulnerable to sunburning.
To prevent sunburning in your dog you should practice the same precautionary procedures for them as you do for yourself. This includes limiting the amount of exposure to the sun and applying sunblock products to her exposed areas. Just as in humans, overexposure to the sun can be very harmful for our pets.
Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Pets, Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190. Only questions of general interest will be answered in this column.