Plastic Surgeries for Pets on the Rise

PetMD Editorial
Published: August 29, 2011
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Plastic surgery isn't just for humans anymore. Take Neuticles, for instance. Since 1995 over 250,000 pets worldwide have been "Neuticled," a procedure where bean-shaped silicone implants are placed in the scrotum of neutered dogs. Dog owners choose this procedure for a variety of reasons: some prefer the appearance, while others argue that it provides pride and self-esteem for their pets.

Then there are the procedures we are more familiar with. In 2010 an estimated $2.5 million was spent on providing pets with nose jobs, and another $1.6 million towards eye-lifts, according to Petplan U.K., the world’s oldest and largest pet health insurer.
These surgeries aren’t just for cosmetic reasons, however. Petplan says that many of the procedures are done to improve the quality of life for the dog.

"So-called plastic surgery is something we have to do regularly to improve the quality of lives in the pets we see as well, and repair injuries and deformities," Petplan veterinarian Brian Faulkner told The Telegraph. "For example, facelifts are commonly required in breeds with excessively drooping eyelids, skin grafts for wounds, [and] soft palate trimming in short faced breeds."

In several cases, these face-lifts have saved the sense of sight for dogs with facial wrinkles that became overbearing for their eyelids. And one nose procedure has been proven to improve air flow through the nasal passages for older dogs that were born with short noses, but have begun to suffer from the trait. 

Of course going under the knife will always have risks, so veterinarians recommend exploring all of the alternatives before choosing plastic surgery for your pet, and only choosing it when the procedure will improve your pet's quality of life.

Some elective surgeries that have garnered much controversy in the past include tail docking and ear folding to conform to breeding standards. Animal rights organizations have stood firmly against such procedures for many years. The American Society for the Prevention of Crulety to Animals (ASPCA) even has a position statement on the matter: "The ASPCA is opposed to elective surgeries that are undertaken solely to conform to breed standards, including cropping ears and docking tails."

The ASPCA, along with other animal rights groups, also fervently oppose declawing, debarking, and olfactory tractonomy as means of curbing undesired behaviors.

Time will only tell whether the plastic surgery industry for pets will continue to boom. Until then, pet owners, animal rights groups and veterinarians will continue to proclaim their benefits and drawbacks.

Image: marya / via Flickr

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