Performing regulated surgical procedures on animals

Some surgical procedures can be performed only by a veterinarian and only in the interest of an animal's welfare. Preventing an animal's pain and suffering is the determining factor for carrying out regulated surgical procedures.

Regulated surgical procedures include:

  • declawing a cat
  • cropping the ear of a dog
  • docking the tail of a dog
  • docking the tails of cattle or horses.

An owner's threat to have the animal destroyed if you don't perform the procedure is not a valid reason to perform it.


Debarking or devocalising a dog is another regulated surgical procedure.

Before debarking a dog, you must:

  • be sure that it is in the interests of the animal's welfare
  • receive a relevant nuisance abatement notice or an appropriate notice from the owner. You must reasonably consider that the operation is the only way to comply with the notice without destroying the dog.

Supplying animals that have had these procedures

No-one is permitted to supply an animal that has undergone a regulated surgical procedure unless they have a veterinarian's certification stating that the procedure was done in accordance with the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001. This does not apply to tail-docked cattle or dogs.

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