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Cosmetic Surgery for Dogs: Medical Necessity or Prideful Indulgence?

In this age of ultimate pet pampering, owners have found new ways to spend money on their fur babies; cosmetic surgery. Canine face lifts, Botox injections, breast reductions; are they in the name of vanity or are there significant medical benefits to these otherwise elective procedures?

The American pet industry brings in close to $60 billion dollars a year. An estimated $4 million spent in cosmetic procedures alone. While it isn’t illegal, none of the procedures fall under the Animal Mutilation Act passed in 1943, a majority of veterinarians feel the vanity driven surgeries are unethical. However, if there is a genuine medical concern certain procedures will be considered.

Tummy Tucks

shutterstock_179295734Most often this procedure is done on previously obese patients that have shed some pounds, but still carry around excess skin. There was a case where a formerly obese dachshund that shed half his body weight and had trouble walking due to the surplus of flesh he pulled along with him. After removing two pounds of extra skin, the dog can walk and move normally again. On the other hand, there are some owners who ask for the procedure to make their older dogs look young again. Tightening up some of the saggy areas, these geriatric hounds can recapture their youthful glow.

Braces

Within the last decade veterinary science made great strides toward advancing the life of our canine companions. This includes exemplary dental care. All veterinarians check the alignment of their patient’s teeth to ensure there is no discomfort from overgrowth or misalignment. After all, dogs carry forty-two teeth in their mouths; an average human only has thirty-two; twenty-eight without wisdom teeth. Dogs who suffer from poorly aligned teeth (malocclusion) may benefit from some tricked out tooth jewelry.

Implants

Male dogs that’ve been emasculated literally and figuratively by meddling humans may once again hold their heads high and their tails higher. With the product Neuticals, silicone dog testicle implants, dogs may be the envy of the neighborhood. Sure they may smell a bit different to other dogs during the morning handshake; it’s possible that Rover’s backside may clink every time he sits on a hard surface. The sagginess of old age will affect the rest of his body, but his Neuticals will remain high and dry.

For decades dog lovers and animal rights activists have decried tail docking, the practice of having tails cut off as puppies, to adhere to certain breeds standards. Humans have also protested ear cropping; the process of cutting dogs ears down so certain breeds may have their ears standing tall. Not to mention denouncing the surgical procedure of devocalizing a dog, which makes talkative dogs stop doing what comes naturally. These practices have fallen out of favor, yet canine cosmetic surgery is on the rise. Why is that?

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Written by Renee Moen
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