tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS  

Blk 1002, Toa Payoh Lor 8, 01-1477, Singapore 319074Tel: 6254-3326, 9668-6468.

Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, pet rats and mice, birds and turtles      
January 23, 2019

Ventriculocordectomy (devocalisation, debarking) of a Beagle
using the laryngotomy (ventral) approach

Written: June 30, 2013
Updated: Jan 22, 2019
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow)

 In my 50 years in practice to 2019, I have had performed around 5 operations in the dog only in cases of desperation by the dog owner. It is not a surgery I will do as it is deemed cruel to dogs. I recorded the following to share my experience with vets researching the internet for case studies of such surgeries in the dog.

Case study.  T
he neutered Beagle had a habit of barking the whole day long, disturbing the neighbours. It was either death by lethal injection as required by the authorities or this surgery. I tried to dissuade owners from doing it by training such as the use of electric collars or spray collars activated by barking. It was easier said than done. After some weeks, the owner brought this dog in for the surgery.

There are 2 approaches to debarking. The oral approach which I don't do as there are complaints of ineffectiveness. It is less expensive. The ventral approach produces a very low "barking" sound.   

Domitor + Ketamine at 80% of the calculated weight via an IV drip*. 
Domitor = 0.45 ml + Ketamine = 0.56 ml IV.  5 years old,  14 kg bodyweight.
Atropine 1 ml IM** after that.

Isoflurane gas + O2 via a smaller endotracheal tube (size 6) was used. It could pushed to one side for me to access one of the vocal cords for excision.  Maintenance dose was as high as 3.5%.

* IV anaesthesia is one option. Topping up when necessary e.g. with 0.1 ml increments of Zoletil 100. This method eliminates the need for isoflurane gas + O2 anaesthesia and intubation.

**The dog went rigid and his head was extended after Domitor + Ketamine were given via the IV drip. The duration of rigidity was a few seconds. Atropine 1 ml IM was given. There were no recurrences of this rigidity stage after atropine injection. .

Electrosurgery use to incise the skin, separate the sternohyoid muscles, incision of the midline of the thyroid cartilage and excision of the vocal folds. The dog's nape of the head was placed over a bottle to extend his neck. Electro-excised the skin. The midline of the sternohyoid muscles were retracted. The midline of the thyroid cartilage was electro-incised. The endotracheal tube could be seen taking up 50% of larynxMy assistant retracted thyroid cartilage so that the vocal folds could be seen.

As the laryngeal space is so small, it is extremely difficult to see the depression in which the vocal folds reside. Insert the forceps into this depression slit and pull the vocal fold (around 1 cm x 8 mm across in this Beagle) out with the forceps. View cranially and laterally into the laryngx for a depression slit. Use forceps to pinch out one tip of the vocal fold. Another forceps clamp below the fold. Pull out as much as possible. I used the electro-excision to cut off the fold above the forceps and below the forceps whenever possible.

No stitching of the mucosa of the cut off vocal folds as there is not much space to manipulate. This was not done by me in all my cases. Lots of bleeding from the surgical areas, into the endotracheal tube and lungs may be present in some cases. In some cases, I was unable to stem the bleeding as it was not possible to locate the bleeders. The left vocal fold area has lesser bleeding. This profuse bleeding has been present in all the past cases including the horse. Electro-cautery may be tried to stop bleeding.  I stitched up thryoid cartilage, sternohyoid muscles and skin. I injected Antisedan to wake up dog after surgery. Bleeding continued to flow out from the nostrils for over 30 minutes after surgery in some cases.       


The dog went back on Day 3 after surgery and at Day 7 after surgery, no complaints were received from the owner.

Most barking dogs in Singapore apartments are generally euthanased if the owners have been summoned by the authorities to get rid of them, owing to complaints by neighbours who may be working night-shifts or have babies needing silence. Training to change the anti-social behaviour and neutering are advised by me and only when the owners have no success will this surgery be done.  I do not perform this surgery unless the dog has to be euthanased, not being renewed in its licence or evicted under the terms and conditions of the regulatory or housing authorities.

A beagle barks and barks


Toa Payoh Vets