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Plastic surgery for pets? Some owners say yes

A Doberman named Kaiser recently got mesh ear implants to get more of an upright lifted look.
June 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some people are paying big bucks for plastic surgery procedures that make their dog or cat have the "right look." Sometimes it's purely cosmetic, but other times, it can actually help their health and even be covered by pet insurance.

One Doberman named Kaiser recently got mesh ear implants to get more of an upright lifted look.

"The cartilage has not stiffened all the way, so his ears did not stand up completely," said pet owner and veterinarian Heather Hughes.

Cosmetic changes are happening in and out of the operating room. From tattoos to implants for neutered animals. Purely cosmetic procedures can be expensive. Pet insurance doesn't typically cover it, and many vets, like Dr. Chris Bern, won't even do it.

"I don't think it's worth putting them through the pain and the recovery and the risk for our perception of how they're supposed to look," said Bern.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States are also against performing surgery for only cosmetic reasons.

"Sometimes people don't think very hard about the inherent risks that are involved in anesthesia for one of our pets," said Kristen Thiesen with the Humane Society.

But there are many cosmetic procedures that are done for health reasons. For example, Obie, a once extremely obese dog, was left with his skin dragging on the ground after being put on a special diet.

"Even when the fat is gone, the skin still stays extended out," said Bern.

Obie's recent tummy tuck surgery definitely changed things. Bern says before an owner considers a cosmetic procedure, they should ask one question: Are we improving the health and the life of that pet?

"And if we are, then we have justification to do it," said Bern.

Some pet insurance plans do cover cosmetic procedures that have a health benefit for the pet or correct a problem.


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