Date on Honors Thesis

Spring 5-2020

Major

Pre-Veterinary Medicine

Minor

Chemistry

Examining Committee Member

Laura Ken Hoffman, DVM, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

William DeWees, DVM, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Barbie Papajeski, LVT, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Warren Edminster, PhD, Committee Member

Abstract/Description

Tail docking is an ongoing procedure several canine breeders choose to practice in order to preserve the expected appearance of certain breeds, as defined by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The spinal nerves are severed between the two caudal vertebrae of the neonate without the use of any anesthetics, local or general. The inability for the neonates to properly metabolize anesthetics contraindicates its administration. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), only two states in the United States have any sort of provision regarding canine caudectomies, and they are Maryland and Pennsylvania Generally in other states, experienced breeders and veterinarians can perform the procedure on 14 day or younger neonates (101). If, however, the neonate is over 5 days old, the regulations for these two states mentioned for only licensed veterinarians to perform the procedure. The AVMA also includes three other states that simply mention to maintain a sanitary environment. Not only does this procedure disregard the possible pain it can inflict on the animal short and long term, but inexperienced and/or uneducated individuals could carry out this procedure, placing the neonate in a position of experiencing a variety of pain. Though the neonates whimper while being separated from the litter, they begin howling and whining extensively during and after the procedure, which may indicate pain. Because of this, more than twenty-five countries have already banned tail docking, especially for cosmetic purposes. Nevertheless, there is a lack of research to support the extent to which this practice is unethical. Through similar practices in livestock and human procedures, research has presented the possibility of developing neuromas thus phantom limb pain, self-mutilation, incontinence, and lack of communication. During two events, surveys were ii handed out to dog owners, asking about their dog’s behavior. The answers to these surveys were statistically analyzed to determine whether or not those who were tail docked presented with any of the clinical signs mentioned earlier. The research being done is an investigation of the long-term complications of tail docking and its implications on canine health.

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