NStarz

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Hey everyone. I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

What are everyone's opinions on debarking (dogs), declawing (cats), tail docking, and ear cropping? I don't think I will be going into general practice, so it may not be as much of an issue, but I am curious as to people's opinions. My thoughts are that I would not do them for convenience or for a 'look' unless the dog was to be used for showing purposes, or, in the case of cats, if it was between declawing and bringing the cat to the shelter for euthanasia (too many cats die in shelters). I spoke to the vet I shadow about this and he said that he doesn't like doing them, and is doing these procedures less and less every year, but that he would rather do it safely than have someone on the street botch it up.

Thoughts???
 

breenie

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I'm pro-declawing if it ensures that cat will have a home and won't be euthed/abandoned/whatever for tearing up the $1,000 sofa. The other things I'm not quite as thrilled with. Tail docking I am okay with to an extent, but that's from a LA perspective. I don't support it in dogs.
 

smilin1590

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I'm pro-declawing if it ensures that cat will have a home and won't be euthed/abandoned/whatever for tearing up the $1,000 sofa.
I'd have to agree with Breenie, I'd much rather have a cat declawed and live a happy life with a loving family than be euthanized etc. for destroying home furnishings and such. Not saying I love the idea but sometimes it's hard to keep them from doing what feels good like stretching their claws on your couch :rolleyes:.

Although I'm glad I convinced my brother not to declaw his cat and try to train him, and it worked and he lives in his house with all his expensive furniture and does pretty good and usually uses his own cat scratching toys
 

SocialStigma

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I wouldn't do the others but I would do declawing as the very, very last resort and only with laser surgery.
 

168135

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I think the last time this thread came up, I got screamed at so I'm going to staaay far far away.

I've worked at a clinic that declaws and one that does not. They bare both at opposite ends of the spectrum. One will declaw without blinking an eye and the other will never do it under any circumstance. I'd be uncomfortable doing it even as a last resort (seriously... in how many cases does trimming, training and softpaws all fail???).

Some people brought up the issue of it being okay for people with Haemophilia to declaw cats, but seriously, how many cases of that are out there?
 

thedogisgreen

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I worked at a clinic for a while where they would only do declawing for health reasons of the owner, particular HIV/AIDS. I agree with that, and doing it for behavioral reasons only when all other options have been thoroughly tried and exhausted. Debarking and tail/ear docking are complete no's in my world, though there always can be exceptions in extreme circumstances.
 

Bearby

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Ear cropping and debarking make me cringe. I don't think I could do it to an animal in practice.

The past two places I worked declawing was pretty common practice. My current place of employment doesn't put a restriction on what cats they will do it on but we only do it with the laser and it is VERY expensive. So expensive that people who were just doing it because it's what they thought they wanted will elect to not have it done. I think in the 2 years I've been there I've seen maybe 6 declaws. 2 of those were a coworker's cats. We had one cat about 6 months ago that had all 4 feet declawed because the owner does have haemophilia. Otherwise we will not do all four feet. I'm ok with declawing when it's a matter of owner safety or last resort as others have said. I'm not ok with the people who come in and want to have the cat declawed just because all cats they've ever had were declawed.

As far as tail docking, it makes me uncomfortable but no so uncomfortable that I wouldn't do it. I would have very strict age restrictions though.
 

katryn

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Declawing is one of the few procedures that I have trouble bringing myself to say I wouldn't do. It's common place, the procedure can be advanced enough to avoid complications, and I honestly don't know of any cat that has had long term issues from being declawed (not to say it doesn't happen, but I've never seen it). That being said, I really like the idea of making owners come to a counseling session before electing to do it, to talk about nail trims/soft paws/etc, and to make sure they understand what it is they're electing to do to their animal.

Tail docks on puppies under 4-6 days old....*shrug* do I like it, not really; but would I refuse to do it, no.

Debarking, I refuse to do on principle. It's not an appropriate surgery, and it's also not something I see being easily undertaken by someone without a DVM.

Ear crops, I'm totally torn on. I have no intention of ever doing them, and find them rather disgusting. But, that being said, if a client came to me and said they wanted a litter of puppies to have ear crops, but the only person they could find to do them was some back yard breeder from across town, I'd rather do the procedure and know it got done by a licensed veterinarian than let a layman undertake that kind of thing.
 
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I'm against (and so is the clinic I have been working at) doing any of these procedures. I guess I could see declawing being done to prevent a euthanasia, but often training isn't performed correctly or at all. It might be possible to spend the money on a professional trainer, rather than on surgery, and save the cat from a lot of stress.

I think it should also be mentioned that I have seen cats go from being confident and friendly to being aggressive and fearful after a declawing procedure (actually making their behavior worse..). I have never seen the same for the other procedures.
 

sumstorm

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(seriously... in how many cases does trimming, training and softpaws all fail???).

Some people brought up the issue of it being okay for people with Haemophilia to declaw cats, but seriously, how many cases of that are out there?
I have a case where these have all failed. And I would suggest far more people have some level of immunocompromised systems than presumed (diabetics, HIV, liver disease, kidney disease, pregnancy, asthma...all these things involve stresses to the immune system that increases susceptibility.) My own cat is an example, and she isn't yet declawed, but I am considering it. I would only consider a highly experienced surgeon using a laser. From my observations, the results are far better.

So, why do I say it has failed in my case? I am a trainer, I have enriched, trained, and ensured far more than adequate oppurtunities for appropriate claw use. However, with the exception of one piece of furniture, the damage is NOT from 'clawing' as much as from her inability to retract her claws adequatly or appropriatly. This is a cat that struggles to walk on carpet becaues her feet are 'velcroed' to the carpet. consequently she is damaging many surfaces she is on; carpets, rugs, furniture, etc. She will occasionally, walking across a piece of furniture or carpet, catch herself so extensively that she will cry piteously and chew at her nails till someone frees her or she bloodies her own nail. We have tried trimming, but can't trim them far enough back to prevent these issues. We have tried nail caps, but she chews them (and nails) off.

Now that she lives with my husband while I am at vet school, he has diabetes and consequently the risk of scratches are more severe than the average individual. Trimming nails is impossible for him to do alone, and she needs her nails trimmed 2-3x a month (she also has very hard nails.) Since he can't do this himself, it would mean a visit to the vet 2-3x/month at $12 a pop plus time off work to do so. I know I personally couldn't take half a day off work (what he would have to do to come home, get the cat, go to the vet) several times a month. And the costs add up quickly, to amounting to more than surgery, plus the car trip and vet visit is exceedingly stressful for her (she is a generaly anxious cat.) I do not have a good solution.

If we didn't have dogs and I didn't think her claws were useful for keeping our GSD from bugging her, I would have her declawed immediatly. I honestly believe it would be better for her (she would be less likely to mutilate her feet and freak out catching herself) and more cost effective (at this point she has done at least $10k worth of damage without intending to, and another $1k clawing.) $11k is a lot of money; that is tuition for a single year of vet school. If that makes me terrible, so be it. As noted, though, I have a strong preference for laser surgery because I have seen so many cats seem to come out at full steam.

As for docking; I am 100% fine for tail docking for working dogs. I have seen so many working shepherds need tails docked as adults for trauma. I have seen just as many working cattled dogs get stomped on a tail then kicked when they were distracted by their painful tail. I do believe that tail docking should be done with local anesthetic, pain management, and by disarticulation.

Ear cropping: I have heard debates that cropping might have stopped some ear infections in some drop eared breeds (dobermans) but I am not convinced on this. But I do feel that neuters are an optional surgery as well...so how can I say one optional surgery should be done, but another shouldn't? So I have mixed feelings.

I also have mixed feelings about debarking. It bothers me a lot, but having lived in NYC, where debarking can be the difference between life and death, I might consider it in some situations. I think Iwould want proof that someone tried training first (kind of like bariatric surgery in humans requires some effort at weight loss first.)
 
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My general view is that these convenience surgeries that modify animals for the convenience of their human owners is inappropriate and wrong to do if they produce suffering in the animal. That includes declawing to save the furniture or cosmetic adjustments to make an animal more "showable." Call me a radical, I can take it, I live on the left coast.

If I could be convinced that the alternative is the death of the animal, then of course I would have to proceed, but I would sure try to exhaust the powers of persuasion to help the owner find another solution.

And that's about where I come down on that one. ;) Happy Thanksgiving everyone and I hope you get great news on your applications.
 

Coquette22

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(seriously... in how many cases does trimming, training and softpaws all fail???).
Three words: Little old ladies. Or little old men. Could easily not have the ability to train a cat (a cat stuck in it's ways isn't the most cooperative to train), or the ability to hold the cat to trim it's nails or put on softpaws. And I've heard very few good reviews on softpaws, anyway.

Do I like it? No. I don't think it's necessary in most cases it's done. But I can definitely see where it's beneficial to the situation.

Tail docking, ear cropping, debarking.... No, no and no. Under no circumstances (barring medically necessary amputations following injuries). I've yet to hear any good arguments for any of these.
 

cowgirla

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I'd rather do the procedure and know it got done by a licensed veterinarian than let a layman undertake that kind of thing.

:thumbup:
At least I know that -I- care about proper technique and pain management. Can't always say the same about the "vet down the street," let alone a layman.

I have seen many, many declaws, tail docks, and ear crops while working as a tech. I have never seen a debarking, so I will not comment on that procedure, and I think of all the procedures listed, that is the one I would fight the hardest against.
For the ear crops, most of the dogs never seem to know that anything happened. It's a bloody procedure that must hurt like heck without pain meds, but these dogs all get stoned out of their little minds. They tend to whiny on the pre-meds, but wake up and start playing within hours. Most of them don't show any signs of being in pain by the time they go home (later that day), and they certainly don't seem painful when it takes three techs to restrain and distract their wiggly happiness for the rechecks! Most of the owners I've talked with say that dogs go right back to normal as home, and they question whether the pain meds are necessary (we insisted that they are!) While it is not something that I would do on my own animals, I respect those who choose to have the procedure done, whether it is for show purposes or not. And I admit-- as much as I like a pittie with cute floppy ears, a well-done crop is a beautiful thing (and a rare thing.) I wish more veterinarians were willing to learn to do a proper crop for the dog's head and earset-- experience makes a big difference in how the end result turns out. Of the vets I've seen do ear crops, one of them takes ~20 minutes with the owner looking at pictures, discussing the end result they want, and what option is best based on the shape of the dog's head, where the cut should be, etc and the final result is usually excellent, compared to the other vet who looks at the picture the owners bring, and just slices in the best approximation they can.

Declaws-- I used to hate doing routine declaws, until I started working with a vet that used a laser. And then I was just amazed, and think that it is a 1000x improvement over the old techniques. The pain is lessened, the recovery time is shortened, and I think the benefits in most cases far outweigh the risks. Sure, there still people that do it "because all their cats are declawed" but its their choice to make, and if they make the right choice of veterinarians and follow all treatment protocols, it can be a relatively simple process. While I wish Softpaws were an option for all animals, in reality, it isn't. Some people can't handle their animal. Others can't afford the constant expense of softpaws over the cat's 20 year life span (or the expense of paying someone else to apply them) Some cats chew them off.

Tail docks-- on young pups, I've seen it done without any pain meds or sedation. It seems to be a common practice, however, as a vet, I think I would feel better using a little bit of a local anesthetic. I've seen one vet do it that way, and it makes me feel all happy inside. Remember, tail docking is not a purely cosmetic procedure. In many breeds, it has historically been done to prevent damage to the tail in the field for hunting dogs, or in herding dogs to prevent it from being stepped on by a cow. Same for dewclaw removal. Granted, I don't know how many Yorkies are out herding cows and hunting game, but in many breeds, I can definitely see the point of both procedures. And if its done properly, I don't see any issue with a veterinarian doing it for cosmetic purposes. My own dog has double dew-claws on her back legs, and I am terrified of the day when she gets one caught on something. If that happens, all four are coming off at the same time, breed standard bedamned, lol.

If veterinarians refuse, the owners and breeders especially will find their own ways. Maybe once the breed standards are all changed these things will become obsolete, but until then, I think somebody will always find a way. There are breed registries that will not register a breeding animal unless it has these procedures done-- they dont care about bloodlines or show records, as long as the dog "looks" the type. I question the thought process behind that, but again, it's not my call to make.

Anyway, I'm sure quite a few people here will disagree, and I am okay with that. I think as long as you are comfortable with your choice, it's the right one (so long as no animals are being tortured, of course). I certainly would never look down on a vet who refused to do any of the procedures, and I would hope that my colleagues would not look down on me for choosing to perform a proper procedure with adequate pain management and follow-up care. Would I do it to my animals? Probably not. But if I did, I'd want it done right.




ETA: Just a thought. What if you graduate and get hired at a practice that does these procedures? Would you turn down a job if it meant working in a clinic that was associated with these things? What if you get hired, sign a contract, and then realize, you forgot to ask these things, and it turns out, they are required as part of your job?
What if you were required to learn to do this? Would you learn if it meant doing it on a regular basis? On an "emergency" basis, whatever that might be? If it meant you never had to do it, but just had to make your boss happy?
 
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EllieGirl89

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I, like many people, have mixed opinions on these things.

1.) Declawing: I used to be dead-set against it, not just because of the surgery itself, but because even if a cat is an "indoor cat" things DO happen. What if you were bringing in groceries one day and the cat darted out and ran away? Even though you didn't mean to let it out, it's still out there with animals that could harm it (especially out in rural areas like where I live) with no way to protect itself. I also used to be concerned about the surgery itself until I actually saw one this summer. It wasn't even a laser declaw and it was extremely fast and completely-and I mean COMPLETELY-bloodless. The vet did such a fantastic job, and the cat received plenty of pain meds. That made me slightly less against the surgery aspect of it, though not totally so when it comes to the principle of the procedure.

2.) Tail docking: another I'm on the fence with. I have a boxer, so his tail is docked. I bought him at 8 weeks old and obviously it was already done. Had I told the breeder prior to the litter being born that I wanted a pup, would I have asked that they let me choose it and then leave its tail undocked? It's very possible. But I am of the mind that I'd much rather have a veterinarian do it than a layperson, and I certainly wouldn't have a problem with it in the case of an actual working dog who would be safer without his tail.

3.) Ear cropping: I'm pretty much against this one. My boxer's ears aren't done. Unless it's for a health purpose and unless there was a real danger of someone trying to do it themselves, I'm going to have to say no.

4.) Debarking: Absolutely not.

5.) Dewclaws: Again, I'd rather have a vet do it than a layperson. I have seen dewclaws get done before and it broke my heart the way the puppies cried, but within 10 minutes they stopped crying and were totally fine, like nothing ever happened. I can see where these would be more commonly a problem and run the risk of getting ripped out, so I wouldn't be totally against doing them.

A funny thing happened while I was shadowing the large animal vet this summer. We were out on calls and I asked him where we were going next and he said we were going to a farm that bred Belgian horses to dock a colt's tail. My stomach sank. I wasn't sure if I could do it. But I went with him, I held the colt's head, he did the procedure (again, very fast), and it was done and the colt trotted back off to his dam, good as new.

On the way home I talked to the vet about it. I told him I'd always felt opposed to docking tails in general, and especially tails that belonged to animals who really NEED them like horses. I asked him how he felt about it and how he dealt with that. He told me that it was a SURE thing that if he didn't do it for those people, they would call the Amish out to do it and that there was so much potential for an extremely painful, botched job and an even higher chance for infection without the tetanus shot that the vet gave him after the procedure. He said that the owners would find a way to do it no matter what, and he'd MUCH rather do it himself and know the procedure would be fast and correct and clean than have a layperson do it and harm the colt. That made a lot of sense to me.

Another vet once told me that as a veterinarian, there's a lot of gray area. You, as a professional, often have to decide where YOUR personal ethics and morals lie, and act accordingly. Other people might have different viewpoints and protocols, and that doesn't necessarily make either of you wrong. It's just a personal decision of where you draw the line on certain issues.
 

cowgirla

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5.) Dewclaws: Again, I'd rather have a vet do it than a layperson. I have seen dewclaws get done before and it broke my heart the way the puppies cried, but within 10 minutes they stopped crying and were totally fine, like nothing ever happened.
Would it make a difference in your opinion, if the vet used a local anesthetic? Many times the pups still cry from being restrained, and I believe there must still be some degree of pain in those animals with well-formed, bony dews, but obviously, the pain is going to be greatly reduced.

Then, of course, the next question is, can you talk a breeder into paying the additional anesthetic fee when "they've been doing it X way for Y years without a problem." I think that would be the hardest part of everything. I
 

milkmaid

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I've seen a debark, multiple dewclaws, tails, ear croppings, declawing - I'm not fond of debarking and probably wouldn't do it; if I were in a city where dogs might have to be debarked to prevent rehoming, there are surely other veterinarians in the area who would be willing to perform the surgery. End of story.

Declawing cats - I've seen it done the old way and with a laser. I would never do it the old way. It's a painful bloody mess. Lasers though - that's a different matter. There's less blood with laser declawing than with most canine neuters, and the cats I saw were comfortable and bandageless several hours later. I wouldn't have a problem with it.

Ear cropping - hate it. I saw dozens of them done when I worked in a clinic near L.A., really dislike the procedure. There have to be other vets out there who are willing to do it; I don't have to and have no intention of doing it.

Dewclaws on pups - I don't have a problem removing dewclaws. I did it myself on my own day-old pups in high school; it's a really simple procedure and they stop whimpering in minutes. (On that note, the dewclaws I removed didn't grow back. The ones the local vet did on a previous litter did grow back - trust me, it doesn't make clients very happy when they have to take the pups back in later.)

Tail docking - I've seen it done with dog nail clippers or with a hemostat and scalpel, both seemed equivalent in pain and effectiveness. I don't have a problem with it. I have a working cowdog with long hair and wouldn't want him with a tail - there's definitely good reason for tail docking; it's not just eye appeal.

Local anesthetic is great in theory, but you've got issues with toxicity in pups that small. Also, a lot of times the anesthetic causes just as much pain as the procedure would without anesthetic.
 

sumstorm

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Tail docking - I've seen it done with dog nail clippers or with a hemostat and scalpel, both seemed equivalent in pain and effectiveness. I don't have a problem with it. I have a working cowdog with long hair and wouldn't want him with a tail - there's definitely good reason for tail docking; it's not just eye appeal.

Local anesthetic is great in theory, but you've got issues with toxicity in pups that small. Also, a lot of times the anesthetic causes just as much pain as the procedure would without anesthetic.
there are viable local anesthetics that are usable (with low toxicity), and (assuming you have taken anesthesia) I'm sure you understand the concepts of central sensitization and why multiple methods of blocking pain would be appropriate for a procedure that is likely painful beyond the initial injury (since neonates tend to express pain by curling up and resting, not crying like juvenile or adult dogs.) I also say this as a human who went through multiple surgical procedures as a child (for deafness, abdominal hernia, and kidney issues) and can recall (from age 2) the memories of pain.

However, I absolutly detest the use of nail clippers for any surgical procedure that should involve the disarticulation of the joint. Nail clippers are not designed to provide a precise edge; half their use is in the ability to apply pressure through a keratinized surface. This is the different between using a suture needle and a knitting needle to stitch up a cut; I have bamboo needles for sock knitting that can penetrate flesh, but that doesn't mean I should use them for that purpose. I agree there are solid reasons for tail docking. However, until I see a study that suggests crushing bones, muscles, and nerves is equivalent to surgical disarticulation (via appropriate pain scale and clinical evaluations of pain in neonates, including long term results) I will not condone using nail clippers in this fashion. I have seen at least a dozen botched tail jobs months and years afterwards, often where the dog seems to have phantom pain or is damaging the tail (often remedied by surgical disarticulation.)
 

EllieGirl89

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Would it make a difference in your opinion, if the vet used a local anesthetic? Many times the pups still cry from being restrained, and I believe there must still be some degree of pain in those animals with well-formed, bony dews, but obviously, the pain is going to be greatly reduced.

Then, of course, the next question is, can you talk a breeder into paying the additional anesthetic fee when "they've been doing it X way for Y years without a problem." I think that would be the hardest part of everything. I
You raise some interesting questions, and yes, it would probably make *me* feel better if some sort of local anesthetic were used, but I agree it might be difficult to convince breeders to do that when they've been doing it without for so long.

Actually, the question of the local is interesting, because the last little blurb in my first reply actually had something to do with that. I was out shadowing a large animal vet for the first time (a different vet from the one that docked the colt) and we were castrating some piglets. It was my first encounter with anything of the sort, and I was slightly mortified. I couldnt believe that they could just hold those pigs upside down, do their thing, and send them off. My job was to spray the iodine on the incision before they set the pigs back down and it was all I could do to stomach it.

The speech the vet gave me came after I questioned him about it. I asked him how he could possibly do what he was doing with those piglets screaming at the top of their lungs like that. His answer? "When did those pigs start screaming? When we grabbed their legs and held them upside down, right? And when did they stop? As soon as we set them back down. That points to the fact that they could very well be screaming because they're being restrained." That made sense to me, as the pigs did seem totally fine once they were set back down. HOWEVER, he then went on with the speech about personal ethics, and said that the pigs that day are where he drew the line, that they were just on the borderline of being too old to be castrated like that, and if they'd been more than a couple days older he wouldn't have done it without some kind of anesthetic.

This is an interesting discussion!
 

sumstorm

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My general view is that these convenience surgeries that modify animals for the convenience of their human owners is inappropriate and wrong to do if they produce suffering in the animal.
So, technically most neuters are convenience surgeries where there are risks (there are benefits as well, but in terms of overall health, it's pretty neutral.) So would you refuse to do a neuter for convenience? Wait till there is a medical reason? Or would you do it to help the owners avoid things like urine marking, wandering, etc? I mean, aren't those convenience things for us humans? Would you not tack a great dane or shepherds stomach unless the dog bloated? It could be argued that prophalactic tacking is for convenience's sake, not out of medical necessity.

I am concerned that when vets refuse to do procedures, they may also participate in activities to disallow procedures. Or, if they serve in areas where there aren't 20 other vets to visit, they may facilitate butcher shops by laypersons, and that those laypersons may argue that it isn't a medical procedure because if it was a medical procedure the vet would have done it. I am not opposed to folks saying they wouldn't do specific procedures, but I am troubled when they start haphazardly classifying procedures they find objectionable as 'convenience' and state they won't do procedures for convenience if they are willing to do other one's for convenience.
 

No Imagination

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Ok - I have a (Silly?) question concerning tail docking. To start with, I am fine with it. I've heard arguments against it, but ergh. Everything else, I pretty much agree with the consensus of the thread.

However, Tail docking. I've seen 7 tail amputations, 2 from acute trauma (dog bites, ect), and 5 from self inflicted damage (basically wagging their tail so hard they damaged it). We would bandaged it, and they would damage it, over and over again. 2 got infected, 1 actually broke a bone, not sure of the others, and we eventually amputated (and I think they are pretty extreme/nasty procedures for a GP).

Now the interesting part, 4 were boxers, and one was a rottie mix. Now I have a theory, that these breeds have evolved (since the practice of tail docking) to wag their little buts/stubs harder and faster, to get the same point across, and when they have a tail, it is subsequent damaged by the excessive wagging. Might sound dumb, but thats my current thoughts on it.

Has anyone seen a larger % of self inflicted damage from wagging in specific breeds? Would probably make for a great (Cohort or Case-Control) study if anyone is into behavior.
 

sumstorm

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That points to the fact that they could very well be screaming because they're being restrained." That made sense to me, as the pigs did seem totally fine once they were set back down. HOWEVER, he then went on with the speech about personal ethics, and said that the pigs that day are where he drew the line, that they were just on the borderline of being too old to be castrated like that, and if they'd been more than a couple days older he wouldn't have done it without some kind of anesthetic.
There is research going on at our school right now that suggests that while the screaming is due to restraint, that doesn't negate the ability of neonates to feel pain, and that neonates express pain in different ways (by sleeping, acting subdued, etc.) There is also ongoing research on the use of analgesia for procedures like castration and dehorning. So far the data suggests that lack of analgesia causes gains in mass to lessen or stall for ~2wks, but that use of analgesia (generally just at the time of procedure, in the form of a nerve block or local) caused minimal disruption in mass gains (less than 48 hours.) To me, that suggests pain. I think one of the projects on debudding of calves has been published.
 

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Would you not tack a great dane or shepherds stomach unless the dog bloated?
:hijacked:

I finally got my GSD - Doing WONDERFUL. I'd like to hook up with you, get your opinion on some training thoughts - I'll PM ya soon if thats OK (don't want to post it after that Mod and I got into it on my last thread a few months back).

Anyway, Canine gastropexy of GSD... definitely have it done? Can I wait till he's full grown, or is the risk of GDV a big deal in the growing puppy (probably pushing the forum rules with these Q's, but ergh)? Probably going to neuter after he's 2-3 years old, but still on the couch.

 

sumstorm

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Has anyone seen a larger % of self inflicted damage from wagging in specific breeds? Would probably make for a great (Cohort or Case-Control) study if anyone is into behavior.
I listened to a presentation by an Army vet that suggested dogs with higher levels of activity placed in confined spaces created more damage to their tails, resulting in trauma docking. They used some scale to judge energy (which wasn't the term that was used) in training/exercises/etc for another purpose, and then completed a retrospective study that examined tail dock rates due to kennel injury and found a strong correlation. The breeds most susceptible in their study were shepherds, labs, and dobermans, but they didn't find breed to matter statistically (though obviously they aren't using a wide variety of breeds) but the energy level did. Not quite sure what that suggests for docking in pets. I have a high energy shepherd, who has injured her tail during wilderness searches, and whose tail I tape to her during helicopter and mountain abseils because of injury potential. If she was in a kennel situation, she would probably lose her tail.
 

EllieGirl89

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There is research going on at our school right now that suggests that while the screaming is due to restraint, that doesn't negate the ability of neonates to feel pain, and that neonates express pain in different ways (by sleeping, acting subdued, etc.) There is also ongoing research on the use of analgesia for procedures like castration and dehorning. So far the data suggests that lack of analgesia causes gains in mass to lessen or stall for ~2wks, but that use of analgesia (generally just at the time of procedure, in the form of a nerve block or local) caused minimal disruption in mass gains (less than 48 hours.) To me, that suggests pain. I think one of the projects on debudding of calves has been published.
I don't disagree with you, and I don't disagree with the notion that neonates can experience pain. I was just giving an example of one vet's perspective, because the different perspectives are interesting to me.
 

sumstorm

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:hijacked:

I finally got my GSD - Doing WONDERFUL. I'd like to hook up with you, get your opinion on some training thoughts - I'll PM ya soon if thats OK (don't want to post it after that Mod and I got into it on my last thread a few months back).
Oh, gorgeous! We'll have to exchange more pics. At this point, I have not had it done on mine (4yo in march), but no one in the last 20 years in her direct lines (incluidng cousins etc) has bloated (thank goodness I have a breeder that tracks that stuff) and her behaviors aren't predisposing. There are some great studies out there, including allometric thoracic depth versus width studies. Talk to your surgery gurus...they should be able to point them out (including the recent one that advises not elevating food bowls.) I have the next month kind of off (doing research) so it's a good time to talk. I can email you a summary of risk factors if you send me your email. I think it is one of those things that you have to find a great vet and talk out the pros/cons (just like any procedure or treatment.)
 

168135

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I'm still quite bitter at the fact that the 10 year old stray I rescued was declawed one month after adoption, after almost dying from an unknown illness and during a spay/mammory gland tumor removal. The new owner snuck her to a different vet clinic that had no record of the adoption and adoption contract that stated the cat was not to be declawed. The rescue owner was p***** and let everyone know it. I can't find it, but she created a group with links and information about declawing and a lot of people who joined had experienced minor to severe complications and at least a couple have had or seen a pet die due to these complications. She also updated her screening process to include declawing: do you currently own cats that are declawed? If so, why did you chose to have the procedure done? If the answer isn't satisfactory, no adoption. She seems to be doing quite well despite the fact that she doesn't turn an animal in need down and she doesn't euth.

Don't know if this is a suitable or not, but declaws at my one clinic are done with dog nail clippers. I've seen two cats bleed through their bandages and all over the kennel afterwards.

For the most part (I mean, they don't have a special circumstance), are people just ignorant of the complications or just lazy? I don't know because I've never delt with clients.

I've caught the tail end of one phone call. A woman called asking about declaws and all I heard the vet say is that the clinic does it, and if she decided to have it done, adequet pain medication will be provided.
 
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NStarz

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Wow, I wasn't expecting so much feedback! This is a great discussion and it looks like people have a lot of different viewpoints.

I have not had to make the difficult decision to do one of these procedures, but I truly believe in not altering an animal for owner's convenience. If a procedure is being done to benefit the animal (like a tail dock for a working dog) then I wouldn't see myself having a problem doing it correctly. I probably would not do a de-claw unless it was a) laser or b) using anesthetic. I have seen only one declaw in my life, and I almost broke down in tears. The poor cat was curled in a ball shaking after the procedure (and the cat had been knocked out for a neuter at the same time, so it probably was getting at least some meds). I haven't seen a laser declaw, but it sounds like it is much more humane (the vet used nail clippers).

I would also have a tougher decision to make if the cat was either to be declawed or end up euthanized at a shelter. I would probably do the procedure after all other options have been exhausted, depending on the circumstances.

I don't think these are black and white decisions. Every situation is truly unique, and I hope that I would sort through all my options when seeing if a procedure is a good fit for the animal and the family who loves it.

I think that we, as future veterinarians, need to decide what is and what is not acceptable concerning society's pets. Vets are basically the most respected opinion when it comes to animals, and that holds a lot of power. If every vet turned around and said 'no' to ear cropping of family dogs (not for showing), then the public would eventually catch on to the idea that this is not acceptable. I'm not saying that this is feasible or even desirable, but it is something to consider. (Along the same lines, the AVMA does not approve of force-based training methods, but that doesn't stop vets from suggesting these methods to their clients).

I'm really pleased to see the discussion. Everyone seems to have really thought this out, which is awesome.

ETA: I'm not sure how much of this is true or just hearsay from my shelter, but we do not recommend declaws, due to the belief that cats will not be able to dig properly in their litterbox and will be more likely to urinate/defecate outside of the litterbox. I've also heard stories of phantom pain and cats not behaving like themselves after the procedure (also, all circumstantial). We do have cats that are already declawed if the adopter believes it is a necessity. Isn't the 'claw' the last digit of their toe?
 

Jamr0ckin

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I find it funny that as our profession progresses and there are advancements in analgesics, we become more adamant against painful procedures.

An ear crop today is not an ear crop from 10 years ago. There is laser usage and better pain control methods. Same thing with declaws: complications from declaws surgeries are dramatically lower.

I have NO issues with declaws, ear crops, dewclaw removal or tail docks.

I have assisted in over 50 ear crops and love doing them - and plan on doing them when I practice. There are dogs that look so regal and beautiful with the ears cropped. Again, with pain control and the laser, it isn't a complicated procedure.

Declawing cats is a nonissue for me. If we promote inside cats - to reduce the risk of FIV/FelV, then we need to be ok with declawing. Many people on here have made good cases for medical reasons, as well as owners inability to properly train cats, and I agree with them. Every cat I've ever owned has been declawed, and every cat I get in the future will be declawed.

Tail docking is necessary for many working animals, and honestly, a Yorkie or a Cocker Spaniel with a long tail would be ridiculous. This is normally done at a few days old, where anesthesia isn't needed and pain is minimal. My rescued Min Pin had his tail and dewclaws done, I'm guessing by the breeder because there is a lot of scar tissue and nail remnants on one of his front legs - if a DVM had done with procedure it would look much better. We automatically do the dewclaws with tail docks unless the owner asks up not too.

Debarking - I have a friend who got her spaniel mix debarked and it didn't really work and there were complications, and this was by a specialist. I have never assisted in one and don't know too much about it to make an informed decision on this procedure, but i think I would limit the candidates to last resort scenarios.
 
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So, technically most neuters are convenience surgeries where there are risks (there are benefits as well, but in terms of overall health, it's pretty neutral.) ... I am not opposed to folks saying they wouldn't do specific procedures, but I am troubled when they start haphazardly classifying procedures they find objectionable as 'convenience' and state they won't do procedures for convenience if they are willing to do other one's for convenience.
Sumstorm, thanks for asking. When it comes to neuters my view is that it's not a matter of convenience or aesthetics but rather serves to prevent additional suffering in the form of unwanted additional animal population. I do appreciate that there are no bright lines here and that many views are very valid.

If someone came in and asked me to remove their cat's testicles because they didn't like the look of them, maybe I'd be further conflicted. :D
 

bunnity

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Re: Boxers getting "happy tail" - pit bulls get that very commonly and they don't usually have their tails docked. I think it's probably more to do with level of energy / exuberance and size - bigger dogs have longer tails that in confined spaces like kennels and houses, are more likely to hit things. It may also have to do with degrees of pain tolerance in those breeds - a dog more sensitive to pain might take it easier on smacking their tail off everything!

Re: the cat shaking in the cage after anesthesia - pretty much every animal shakes after anesthesia. I've seen an animal sedated for something really nonpainful (they had to examine something that he wouldn't have allowed while awake) and he still woke up screaming and shaking. That said - it is entirely possible that the cat's pain was not appropriately managed but shaking alone does not necessarily indicate pain.

As far as my opinion, I've become more amenable to doing these procedures when I graduate. I've seen the backyard crop jobs and it's not pretty... and if something is being done it is better to have a vet than the guy down the street doing it. That said I think it is really important to educate the client on all the options and have them try noninvasive things first in the case of declawing.
 
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NStarz

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Re: the cat shaking in the cage after anesthesia - pretty much every animal shakes after anesthesia. I've seen an animal sedated for something really nonpainful (they had to examine something that he wouldn't have allowed while awake) and he still woke up screaming and shaking. That said - it is entirely possible that the cat's pain was not appropriately managed but shaking alone does not necessarily indicate pain.

Hmmm, that's interesting. I've seen a few dozen spays/neuters/other procedures, and this was the first animal that shook like that after surgery. It's possible my sample size is limited. Thanks for the information!
 

milkmaid

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For the most part (I mean, they don't have a special circumstance), are people just ignorant of the complications or just lazy? I don't know because I've never delt with clients.
Well... most clients have a couple friends with pets and they all have X, Y, and Z procedure done, so unless the client goes looking for problems with X, Y, and Z procedure, there's nothing that challenges their plans. Also, vets always send animals home completely cleaned up and completely awake. Animals are a lot more pain tolerant than humans, and so when puppy or kitty goes home with no blood, a neat row of stitches, and doesn't act like they're in pain... clients accept what they see. The vast majority of animals don't experience complications after the procedure, and if they do, most clients are easily swayed by a reasonable sounding explanation from a doctor.
 

milkmaid

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My rescued Min Pin had his tail and dewclaws done, I'm guessing by the breeder because there is a lot of scar tissue and nail remnants on one of his front legs - if a DVM had done with procedure it would look much better. We automatically do the dewclaws with tail docks unless the owner asks up not too.
Not necessarily. I had a vet do a litter of pups and have several pups with dewclaws that grew back - complete with nail - by 6 weeks of age. I had the clinic fix the problem, but I did the next litter myself. Figured I couldn't do any worse than a DVM did. :p (FWIW, no dewclaws grew back, minimal scarring, looked better than the previous litter.)

there are viable local anesthetics that are usable (with low toxicity), and (assuming you have taken anesthesia) I'm sure you understand the concepts of central sensitization and why multiple methods of blocking pain would be appropriate for a procedure that is likely painful beyond the initial injury (since neonates tend to express pain by curling up and resting, not crying like juvenile or adult dogs.)
Since neonates (ie, 3 day old puppies) tend to sleep the vast majority of the day anyway, unless you have a study that checked cortisol etc levels on pups multiple times after regular procedures (dewclaws, tail docking), I'm not sure either of us can distinguish between pain and the puppy just... sleeping.

In regards to expression of pain, neonates also express pain with a physical or verbal reaction - just watch a puppy that the mother steps on when she climbs back in the whelping box - and neonates aren't the only ones who react by "resting." Take a look at a cow after being dehorned. Most animals will accept pain if it becomes obvious they cannot escape it.

The only local anesthetic I've ever seen used in standard clinical practice is lidocaine. I know it's not the only one out there, but it is the only one I've ever seen used. If you dilute it enough it would be safe for a puppy - but who does that?

In regards to waking up from general anesthesia - I worked at a clinic where they used Telazol and it wasn't uncommon for dogs to wake up howling. Slightly disconcerting, but it's written down as a way dogs may wake up and is not considered abnormal. I interned at a clinic that used ket and xylazine last summer and much preferred the way they woke up.
 
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No Imagination

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I find it funny that as our profession progresses and there are advancements in analgesics, we become more adamant against painful procedures.
I love the fact that you came out on this side of the argument.

One thing that I hate, and someone eluded to it in an earlier post, is the difference in pain care, or what we are allowed to do in Small Animal vs. Large Animal. Forget that the reasons for some LA work is more of a necessity; I get that.

But why is it "Ok" to dehorn a cow w/o analgesia (and the AVMA said it was 'ok'), but we are even talking about docking, or even cropping. Sure, the reasons may be different, but pain is pain.

I find it hypocritical to say that "X, Y, Z can't be done" or "Can't be done without analgesia" yet we are allowed to do similar painful procedures on LA without analgesia. That just blows my mind.
 

EllieGirl89

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Don't know if this is a suitable or not, but declaws at my one clinic are done with dog nail clippers. I've seen two cats bleed through their bandages and all over the kennel afterwards.
This, IMO, is unacceptable. The clinic I shadowed at this summer doesn't have the funds available to purchase equipment to do laser surgeries (small rural vet) but the one declaw I saw had very little trauma and zero (and yes I mean zero) blood. The vet applied a tourniquet to the leg and very carefully removed each toe with a sharp scalpel. He made an incision in the skin that covered the base of the nail and then cut the connective tissue in the joint right before the nail (sorry for my lack of anatomical vocabulary) and off it came. He did that for each toe and then before removing the tourniquet he used surgical glue to close the incisions. Presto. No blood and a clean declaw. I can't imagine using as coarse that uses a crushing motion like dog nail clippers for something that this vet was so careful and precise about. We actually talked about the different techniques during the surgery, and he told me about some declaw jobs he'd seen that had been done by nail clippers. He said a lot of them ended in problems for the cat, from just the nail growing back to lameness. After the surgery I witnessed, the cat woke up well in his cage and certainly didn't bleed through the bandages...uncontrolled bleeding like that doesn't seem right to me in any circumstance.
 

breenie

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One thing that I hate, and someone eluded to it in an earlier post, is the difference in pain care, or what we are allowed to do in Small Animal vs. Large Animal. Forget that the reasons for some LA work is more of a necessity; I get that.

But why is it "Ok" to dehorn a cow w/o analgesia (and the AVMA said it was 'ok'), but we are even talking about docking, or even cropping. Sure, the reasons may be different, but pain is pain.
I may have elluded to that. :) Also, dehorning without analgesia is dependent on age and assumed horn/bud size, yes? You can't come running at them with a torch at like 6 months...
 

DVMDream

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My theory on all of these "cosmetic" procedures are: I would rather see them be done by licensed DVMs with proper anesthesia and pain medications then to see them butchered by other people because veterinarians are turning people away.

I have two cats who are both declawed: One was declawed at about 5 years old (was not my decision), laser was used, recovered quickly, no complications and was acting like nothing happened about 5 hours later.

The other was declawed at about 5 months old, laser used, recovered quickly, no complications and acting like normal a few hours later.

The hardest part with both cats was trying to keep them confined for the week after surgery so that they did not open up the incisions or cause swelling. I have seen upwards of 30 declaws: the old fashioned way, with electrocautery and with laser. Laser is the best but electrocautery is a good second should an owner not be able to afford laser. I have had clients call asking if we have laser declaws because they will not allow their cat to be declawed any other way. The idea of the laser has gotten around and more people are looking and seeking out to use it on their cats because they have heard from others how much better the recovery is, etc.

My opinion: I would much rather see licensed and trained people do these procedures than to see another pet come in with a botched tail dock, ear crop, dewclaw removal, or declaw.
 

svendenhowser

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It's all very simple here, they are all illegal to perform (by anyone), in a cosmetic sense, not therapeutic. So we can't ear crop, tail dock, declaw or debark anything. And taildocking a working dog just because it is a working dog is not considered therapeutic, thus illegal. I agree with the stance we have, I don't see many reasons to do any of the above. Although I do kind of agree that if re-homing vs euthenasia meant declawing I would probably do it if it wasn't illegal.
 

sunshinevet

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I have NO issues with declaws, ear crops, dewclaw removal or tail docks.

I have assisted in over 50 ear crops and love doing them - and plan on doing them when I practice. There are dogs that look so regal and beautiful with the ears cropped. Again, with pain control and the laser, it isn't a complicated procedure.
I also think ugly people should have to get plastic surgery to look better...

I think any procedure done purely for cosmetic purposes (on animals, obviously) should be illegal. I believe that no-one should have the right to put an animal in undue danger. And I strongly believe that putting them under an anaesthetic, no matter how safely administered, is undue danger when it is to try and make them look "more regal and beautiful".

If you cant see the beauty in your dog the way nature intended it, you don't deserve to have it!!!

Just my HO!!!
 
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that redhead

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Hey everyone. I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

My thoughts are that I would not do them for convenience or for a 'look' unless the dog was to be used for showing purposes...

...he said that he doesn't like doing them, and is doing these procedures less and less every year, but that he would rather do it safely than have someone on the street botch it up.

Thoughts???
By cropping ears or docking tails for show purposes, one is still perpetuating the stereotypical "breed look", which is what causes non-showing people to want to crop and dock. I think these procedures are largely unnecessary and almost always just for aesthetics. I do know of hunting dogs with docked tails for the purpose of safety in the field, but unless that procedure is really serving a function that benefits the animal, I don't think it should really be permitted just because the AKC has said for however long that boxers' ears should be cropped and their tails docked, for example.

I agree with your vet, though, in that I would prefer to perform these procedures myself as a vet, even if I didn't necessarily agree with them, than think the owner is going to go out and get someone else (unqualified) to do the surgery. I have a friend who has a pitbull. Her idiot boyfriend snuck the dog out of the house to have its ears cropped by his homie and I can't even imagine what that poor puppy went through. Aside from risk of infection or damaging important tissue, I'm sure there was no anesthetic or pain killer or anything, and that breaks my heart.

So while I think that there are times when docking and declawing can be beneficial to the animal (the points mentioned about cats, specifically for declawing, obviously), I don't agree with it just because a breed organization has decided to perpetuate an image that requires cropping and docking for no immediate purpose.
 

No Imagination

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It's all very simple here, they are all illegal to perform (by anyone), in a cosmetic sense, not therapeutic. So we can't ear crop, tail dock, declaw or debark anything. And taildocking a working dog just because it is a working dog is not considered therapeutic, thus illegal. I agree with the stance we have, I don't see many reasons to do any of the above. Although I do kind of agree that if re-homing vs euthenasia meant declawing I would probably do it if it wasn't illegal.
Interesting post, I knew that Europe had that stance, didn't know Australia took it up as well.

Would it be illegal to declaw a cat belonging to an AID/HIV patient?
 

rugbychick16

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Every cat I've ever owned has been declawed, and every cat I get in the future will be declawed.
Do you give them a chance at all, or is it just off with their claws before they get to set foot in your house? Because not every cat claws up furniture automatically-mine sure don't.
 

roughleggedhawk

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This discussion has got me thinking! Thanks for bringing it up, NStarz.

Don't know if this is a suitable or not, but declaws at my one clinic are done with dog nail clippers. I've seen two cats bleed through their bandages and all over the kennel afterwards.
*shudder* That sounds really awful. The only declaw I've ever seen was done with a scalpel just as EllieGirl described. There was very little blood and the cat seemed to recover well. But dog nail clippers - wouldn't those crush the toe before it cut, and wouldn't that cause additional pain and inflammation? I can't understand why a vet would do it that way.

There are dogs that look so regal and beautiful with the ears cropped.
I agree. Great Danes come to mind.

That said, I wouldn't have the ears cropped or tail docked cosmetically on any dog of mine, even if it was a Dane. I can't see myself putting an animal through a surgical procedure just for appearance's sake.

Has anyone ever produced Danes or similar breeds with ears that stand up on their own? They obviously wouldn't have the same shape as a cropped ear, but I've always wondered if it was possible to bring that quality in.

I think that although I don't like any of them, I would be willing to perform these surgeries, after first trying to convince the owners not to have them done. I'd love to see the day when none of these procedures are performed for cosmetics or convenience, but I don't think that me refusing to do them will make that happen, and it could make things much worse for individual animals.
 

168135

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*shudder* That sounds really awful. The only declaw I've ever seen was done with a scalpel just as EllieGirl described. There was very little blood and the cat seemed to recover well. But dog nail clippers - wouldn't those crush the toe before it cut, and wouldn't that cause additional pain and inflammation? I can't understand why a vet would do it that way.
The vets don't do the procedure. The techs do. :scared: The reason why they probably do it is because it takes < 1 minute to hack them off with nail clippers.

It's a horrible clinic. But I wouldn't have 250 of my 380 hours if it weren't for them.
 

No Imagination

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The vets don't do the procedure. The techs do. :scared:
Now that is a problem... Not even going to comment on that one, but ::shudder::

Now, I've seen it both ways, and while the nail clipper approach is 'faster' to lob them off, the suturing and gluing, and certainly the after care (not to mention the pain) is MUCH longer in my experience then a good scalpel technique.

I have not seen laser yet, but I've heard great things about it.

An interesting side note: Not even veterinary surgeons are in agreement with these... I've heard one who spoke to us who said "No way, not going to do any of them, and neither should you, here is why (Dogma incoming). While another has no problem with any of them (including debarking, but said it has very questionable results). So, even among the pro's, its still a personal opinion (and I for one would like it to stay that way).
 

dyachei

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An interesting side note: Not even veterinary surgeons are in agreement with these... I've heard one who spoke to us who said "No way, not going to do any of them, and neither should you, here is why (Dogma incoming). While another has no problem with any of them (including debarking, but said it has very questionable results). So, even among the pro's, its still a personal opinion (and I for one would like it to stay that way).
Agree completely.

I have even heard one surgeon in our class talk about the clipper version of this procedure positively. If the clippers are sanitized and sharpened, and P3 is removed completely, she doesn't really have a problem with it. Added to the copious pain management and preparation, of course (shave the paws as best as possible, scrub the area ahead of time, use gloves, etc).

Personally, I am more comfortable with the scalpel method and the laser method. But even these can go wrong if you don't know what you're doing.
 

squeegee

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i don't think anyone has mentioned deep digital flexor tenectomy for a declaw yet...any opinions on that vs surgical removal of P3?
 

MSUspartan

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Do you give them a chance at all, or is it just off with their claws before they get to set foot in your house? Because not every cat claws up furniture automatically-mine sure don't.
:thumbup: this.

last year i was getting a kitten (never had a cat before) and didn't want to declaw it. my roommate and i ended up getting into a HUGE fight about it because she had cats previously and "you HAVE to declaw them because they'll destroy everything". end of story, no matter how much i tried to convince her there were alternatives, she was not letting a non-declawed kitten into our house because she didn't think i could train it to use a scratching post before it destroyed everything rapidly.

long story short, i ended up getting the kitten over the summer before we moved in together, and with no training at all he started using the cardboard scratch pad. he has never once touched the couch, and occasionally will scratch the carpet, but i keep his nails trimmed so that they are short & dull and there are absolutely no problems.

i guess my problem with declawing is that most people aren't educated about the procedure, and aren't willing to give alternatives a chance. when i got my kitten, my dad was 100% on the declaw train because he thought it was just taking out the nail, and was a simple procedure. when i explained it was actually an amputation of the digit, he became dead-set against it. the fact that places like banfield include declawing as a 'package deal' with spays/neuters only encourages the belief amongst the lay public that you have to declaw cats no matter what. fortunately, the clinic i work at uses GREAT pain management techniques (fentanyl patch for 3 days included), and they're REQUIRED. clients aren't allowed to cheap out on pain meds because they're too expensive...they're included in the price of the declaw and that's that. i still don't like seeing them done, though...especially 4-paw declaws

while i think it's great that we do our best to prevent complications, they do still happen. i think it's really important that as future veterinarians, we take the time to educate clients about what the procedure really is, and what the risks are. i feel like a lot more people would take the initiative to try and get their cats to use a scratching post/use soft paws/keep the nails trimmed short if they were more informed and well educated about the actual procedure of declawing. obviously, i would rather declaw a cat than have it euthanized/dumped at a shelter...and oftentimes the owners are at their wits end when they bring the cat in for the surgery, and aren't willing to try anything else. that's why it's so important that we bring up nail trimming, soft paws, and the importance of providing proper surfaces for scratching during routine kitten/vaccination/wellness visits...so that we can prevent problems before they become so bad that declawing is the only option the owner is willing to consider.

in terms of tail docking and ear cropping, i see no need unless the dog is going to legitimately be used as a working dog. personally i love my puppers with floppy ears and a long tail that they can use to show me how they're feeling. i know people use the excuse 'if i don't do it, the owner will do it themselves...' but i really don't know how many owners actually would. sure, there are some really ****ty people out there who will treat their animals like crap no matter what (ie, michael vick and others who fight pit bulls). but for the most part, owners aren't going to take fluffy to some back alley to get her claws taken off. if the vet refuses and explains, rationally, why he doesn't perform the procedure, there's a decent chance the owner will listen. if more veterinarians were willing to stand up and decide not to continue performing these procedures just because they've always done them, eventually the commonality of having a declawed cat/dog with cropped ears/docked tail etc would fade, and these situations would become rare.