Coughing in Debarked Dog

by Susan
(Templeton CA)

I have a 10 yr old female blue merle sheltie that came to me from a person who had someone de-bark her .However she yaks. And lately does it more often. What causes this? Could it be from the procedure when they de-barked her?

According to her previous owner they have no vet records so I am starting at ground zero with her. She is a loveable Sheltie. I have had Shelties all my adult life and never thought of de-barking any of them. Dogs are supposed to bark. Whether being protective, or barking at other dogs or cats, etc, I just don't understand while my female yaks, almost like her breathing is labored to some degree.

My vet said she has a breathing problem and was probably abused in some form from her previous owners. They never took her to the vet, or spayed her, so I can only guess that she was used as a breeding animal instead of a show, or family pet.

I also noticed when I received her, her front upper and lower teeth had been removed. Do they remove their teeth to de-bark a dog? Her gum-line is smooth with teeth that have fallen out.

Any suggestions from anyone?

I also had all her shots updated as I have no past vet records. I think the owners of her were cruel as she was very afraid and timid when I got her. Now she is happy to be inside and not left outside in the
elements. We are only guessing her age, but I do know that Shelties of age 10 will not heat. However she has had one heat since being with me. My vet advises not to spay her due to the breathing and yaking problems.

Any advice as to why she yaks, not vomits were begreatful.

Susan and MistyBlue

Vet Suggestion to Help Dog Cough after Debarking

Hi Susan,

By “yakking” I assume you mean that MistyBlue sounds as if she’s trying to cough or hack something up. A couple of potential problems come to mind if that is the case. First of all, scarring around the sites of her debarking surgery can adversely affect other structures in the area, which could cause respiratory difficulties. A laryngeal exam performed under sedation would be needed to diagnose this as well as other potential laryngeal problems (e.g., laryngeal paralysis).

Another possibility is something called a reverse sneeze. Here is a link to a good video so you can see/hear what this conditionis like. Reverse sneezes are a sign of irritation at the back of the nasal passages. If it occurs only occasionally, it is nothing to worry about (think of it as you would a regular sneeze). If, however, the episodes occur with increasing frequency or severity, your vet should look for an underlying cause.

Good luck. MistyBlue is lucky to have found such a devoted owner! And since you ask… no, tooth removal is not normally a part of the debarking surgery.


Jennifer Coates, DVM

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