Cosmetic procedures such as tail docking, ear cropping, and dew claw removal have been done for years but now procedures such as tummy tucks, testicular implants, and cosmetic dentistry are now available. Most cosmetic surgeries performed on animals are done to improve quality of life.
Skin Fold Removal -
Some dog breeds, such as English Bulldogs, are bred to have large skin folds. These skin folds can develop a dermatitis a bacterial or yeast infection that can become a pain to treat for both the animal and human. Owners traditionally have to keep the skin folds clean and when infected treat with topical creams and in severe cases give oral antibiotics. Owners can now opt to have the skin folds decreased in size to help eliminate this problem.
Cosmetic Dentistry -
The most common dental problem for pets is gum disease. Most dogs and cats are in need of a dental cleaning and some need to have teeth extracted. In some cases there are broken teeth, these broken teeth used to be extracted without a second thought but now root canals are commonly being done in order to save the tooth. Root canals are not performed by all veterinarians and if the break is severe or old, the tooth may not be saved and will need to be extracted. There are also many different congenital defects that are mouth related. These defects can be painful for the pet. These problems can be corrected through extracting teeth, or the use of braces, retainers, springs, and elastics. If you choose cosmetic dentistry for your pet see a veterinarian who is familiar with these procedures as not all veterinarians are capable of performing cosmetic dentistry.
Tummy Tucks/Breast Reduction -
This sounds radical, to perform a tummy tuck or a breast reduction on a dog or cat? A dog that has been used for breeding purposes can be left with huge folds of skin around it's mammary glands. This excess skin is not pleasing to the eye and it can be a hindrance to the pet as well. In some breeds this excess skin can practically touch the ground and become a burden when trying to walk, run, or play. In these severe cases breast reduction surgery can benefit the dog greatly and increase quality of life. Cats in particular have a "fat pad" on their abdomen. In severe cases this fat pad can become hindrance and a tummy tuck can be performed to help make moving about easier for the cat.
Testicular Implants -
This is one cosmetic surgery that is solely down for cosmetic purposes and manly ego. Prosthetic testicles called neuticles are placed in the dog or cats scrotum usually during the pets neuter surgery. The neuticles allow the pet to have a natural look and yet still have the health benefits from being neutered. The neuticles also encourage people to neuter who ordinarily wouldn't.
The AKC only allows ear cropping, tail docking, and dew claw removal in order for the pet to reach breed standards, all other procedures done to change the appearance of the pet are not allowed under AKC rules. The AKC does allow dogs with natural ears to show (and some have won) but are currently fighting to keep ear cropping and tail docking legal procedures in New York State and California.
The Humane Society of the United States
The Humane Society opposes any procedure that is done for cosmetic purposes only.
Many of these procedures seem radical but most are done to benefit the animal. Most veterinarians will not perform a surgical procedure unless it is in the animals best interest. If you believe your pets quality of life can be improved through cosmetic surgery you should talk to your veterinarian.
Related Article - Teeth Cleaning For Dogs and Cats
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