CVMA Policy on Devocalization of Dogs

The decision to devocalize a dog should be made by the owner in consultation with their veterinarian. The veterinarian has an obligation to educate clients on alternatives to the devocalization procedure as well as potential surgical complications.

The devocalization of dogs may become necessary for legal or behavioral reasons. It shall be performed by a licensed veterinarian in a manner that minimizes the risk of complications. Pain management is necessary for this procedure. Devocalization is a final alternative before euthanasia, abandonment, or other forms of relinquishment.

When dogs are housed in groups (e.g. laboratories, breeding facilities, kennels,) devocalization should not be used as an alternative to appropriate animal management and facility design.


  • Veterinarians are trained to distinguish medical and behavioral problems and to educate and counsel clients.
  • Veterinarians do not take the issue of devocalization lightly and strive to educate pet owners about available alternatives.
  • Studies have proven that behavioral problems are the leading cause of relinquishment of companion animals.
  • Not all pet owners are able to successfully modify a dog’s behavior to refrain from excessive barking, and some dogs are resistant to training.

(July 2010; Rev April 2015)


© 2018 California Veterinary Medical Association

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