Plastic Surgery for Pets?
Cosmetic surgery for pets is becoming big business, but is it really a good thing? Often, the cosmetic surgeons claim they’re just fulfilling “consumer demand.” Others suggest that pet owners who consider their cats and dogs as family members, point out that such emotional bonds include the spending of “human-level” money on keeping them looking good. (And, some of the surgeries--the overwhelming majority of which are for dogs--might actually have some health benefits for certain breeds.)
For example, flat faced dogs such as bulldogs and Pekingese are prone to have more restricted breathing passages and therefore become susceptible to difficulties such as heat stroke. Rhinoplasty surgery to alleviate these problems is a method for treatment.
Breeds with excessive skin folds such as shar-pei and bloodhounds are prone to bacterial infections that can occur within the folds. Face lift treatments or skin reduction surgeries may be used to reduce these problems. (Even Botox treatments have been used to tighten loose canine skin.) Chin lifts for heavy-jowled dogs like mastiffs and Newfoundlands have reduced excessive drooling which can lead to mouth infections that could ultimately affect kidneys and livers. These are all legitimate health reasons for performing certain cosmetic surgeries on pets.
Mere Convenience Surgeries
However, many pet owners subordinate the well-being of their animals to "correcting" inappropriate standards of pet conduct. This has resulted in what has been labeled “convenience surgeries.” According to the US Humane Society, convenience surgeries are completely elective and performed “without benefit to the animal.” The most severe of these procedures are those done to compensate for lack of proper training of the pet such as the “devocalization” of dogs who bark excessively, and the declawing of cats that aren’t properly trained to prevent the scratching of furniture.
Pet writer, Gail Eisenberg says “Get a cat or get a couch, not both.” Unfortunately, too many cat owners do get both and then mistakenly “consider declawing a routine prevention for unwanted scratching.” However, the Humane Society again weighs in by describing declawing as "the amputation of the last bone of each toe." It would be equivalent of cutting off human fingers at the first knuckle above the cuticle.