Plastic Surgery for Pets!
Veterinarian Reviewed on March 10, 2009 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
If not, then perhaps you should take a look at pet plastic surgery!
It’s all the rage in Brazil! In keeping up with Brazil’s affinity for plastic surgery, Edgado Brito, a Doberman breeder and Veterinarian with over 20 years of experience, adapts human plastic surgery techniques for use on pets.
Brito has performed a few thousand plastic surgeries and keeps abreast of trends in human plastic surgery to develop his own plastic surgery treatments for his animal patients. Although the animal’s health is Brito main concern, he also acknowledges that an animal’s beauty is just as important to their well-being. He believes that if a dog owner thinks that his dog is attractive, then their relationship will be a better one.
Brito’s surgeries cost anywhere from $100 to $200 each. He uses such techniques as Metacril to straighten bent ears and Botox to fix inverted eyelashes. Brito has even tightened the mammillae of female dogs, whose owners wanted to show them after they had given birth.
“Good symmetry is very important,” Brito said. “All that is not symmetric we don’t like.”
Even though there has been considerable objection from animal rights activists and pet breeders, pet plastic surgery is increasingly in demand in Brazil, the United States and Europe.
Take the American Kennel Club for example. (The AKC defines the rules for recognized dog breeds on the U.S. dog-show circuit.) The AKC forbids any type of surgery that alters a dog’s appearance, other than the cropping of ears and tails to meet breed standards, of course.
In Hollywood, celebrity pets are just as likely to be headlined as the celebrity who owns them.
“Pets are no longer considered property, but family members,” says ‘Veterinarian to the Stars’, Dr. Alan Schulman, a board-certified orthopedic veterinary surgeon who performs plastic surgery and also sees general practice cases at the Animal Medical Center of Southern California in Los Angeles. “With the evolution of this emotional bond, people with a discretionary income are taking advantage of technology and veterinary expertise to give their animals medically indicated reconstructive surgery resulting in a better quality of life.”
Unlike Brito, Schulman will not perform cosmetic surgery just to appease the pet’s owner.
“I gently explain that unless there is a real medical reason for me to do some touch-up work, I won’t recommend it or proceed,” says Schulman. Liposuction for pets is not an option, he adds.
However, there are a few instances amongst certain dog breeds that do require reconstructive procedures costing about $1,000 each. The results of such procedures are doggie facelifts, eye lifts, rhinoplasty and even abdominoplasty.
One of the most common concerns is skin-fold issues, mainly around the eyes, lips, and tail.
“It’s not uncommon to have skin folds surgically reduced in size or eliminated in order to help the animal from chronic discomfort and infection,” says Schulman.
Sadly, there are a few cases where a dog’s skin folds can become prone to bacterial infections and can lead to other life threatening concerns.
In 2006, a stray Shar-Pei named Shankly was brought into Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in the UK. Shankly’s wrinkles had become so saggy that these folds of skin were hanging over his eyes and subsequently blinding him. Veterinarian, Shaun Opperman, was able to remove a large fold of Shankly’s skin across his forehead and between his eyes, during an hour-long surgery. Pictured here is a before and after shot of Shankley. Breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers usually need nose jobs to alleviate their breathing problems. Chin lifts are common amongst Mastiffs, Bloodhounds and Newfoundlands, to help curb their excessive drooling problems, which can cause chronic mouth infections. Such infections can spread to the kidneys and liver and even cause heart-valve infections.
Another aspect of plastic surgery for pets that is often overlooked is cosmetic dentistry. Veterinary Dental Specialists use an array of techniques to solve overbites and fractured teeth, such as orthodontic braces, retainers, root canal treatments and even crowns.
Cosmetic procedures are not new to cat owners and breeders either! During the early 1900’s there were suggestions that cat breeders were attempting to create Manx cats through tail-docking and by using dye on cats not just to mask an imperfection, but to entirely change a cat’s color!
In order to create a Maltese Cat, breeders would have to use a blue dye on the cat’s coat which then had to be supplemented with dye combed into the cat’s fur. The cat’s muzzle would be dyed using a sponge technique and, if done rather well, the judges in the show ring would not be able to tell the difference!
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan