When most pet owners hear someone mention plastic surgery for dogs, they immediately think of common cosmetic procedures such as ear cropping to cause a purebred to conform to a breeding standard. According to the ASPCA, the second common canine cosmetic procedure is tail docking.
However, a much wider world of plastic surgery for dogs exists in the United States. MSNBC reports that facelifts, tummy tucks and nose jobs are becoming common. So are testicular implants and cosmetic dentistry.
In affluent areas, more than a handful of board-certified veterinarians perform plastic surgery on dogs and other pets. Their clientele usually consists of dog owners who have formed very close bonds with their pets and who are affluent enough to buy them reconstructive surgery. While some of the procedures are medically necessary, some requests from owners are aimed at purely cosmetic results.
Among the problems that represent genuine medical needs are skin-fold issues that plague certain canine breeds. For the dog to be healthy, these problems typically require reconstructive procedures such as rhinoplasty, an eyelift, a full facelift or abdominoplasty. MSNBC reports the cost in 2005 was around $1,000.
The most common areas where skin-fold problems occur in a dog are around the eyes, tail, lips and vaginal area. Reducing or removing the folds can free the pet from chronic discomfort and infection. For breeds such as bulldogs, the wrinkle over the nose and below the eyes is so deep, it’s impossible for the owner to keep it clean and free of bacterial infections. Surgery can make a difference in the quality of the dog’s life.
Breathing problems are particularly common to pugs, bulldogs and Boston terriers. A nose job can alleviate these issues. Dogs such as the sharpie and the chow are often born with a defect that forces their eyelashes to scratch their corneas and their eyelids to turn inward. This problem can be solved by an eyelift.
Many huge breeds such as mastiffs and Newfoundlands seem to spend most of their lives drooling. A chin lift can eradicate the problem. This also eliminates chronic mouth infections that can subsequently lead to issues with the kidneys and liver as well as infections of a heart valve.
Among the plastic surgery options that aren’t medically necessary are neuticles. This option has been around since the mid-1990s. Neuticles are testicular implants available in various sizes to give a dog a more masculine look, one that suggests he hasn’t been neutered. The cost can run around $400 for a procedure that takes only a few minutes to perform.
Some owners have purchased silicone eye implants for dogs that have lost an eye and as a result have a sagging or sunken face. A tiny ear implant is available to improve the appearance of pets with ears that sag or droop.
Before making an appointment with a surgeon who performs plastic surgery on dogs, it’s a good idea for owners to discuss the potential procedure with the local veterinarian. He or she should be familiar with the dog’s health and can help determine whether the surgery would actually be in the dog’s best interest.