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Seen At 11: Are Cosmetic Procedures For Pets A Good Idea?

Veterinarians Say Yes -- If There's Actually A Health Reason

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — From facelifts to nose jobs and even Botox, animal lovers are now spending millions each year enhancing their pets’ droopy eyes and cats’ crooked teeth.

But would you put your pet under the knife?

As CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported Wednesday night, pets are now heading for the types of cosmetic procedures people have been getting for years – from braces and eye replacements to various lifts and tucks.

“I think it is becoming more common for clients to pay for cosmetic surgeries,” said veterinarian Dr. Chris Bern.

“Kaiser,” a Doberman, was recovering recently from an ear lift – a cosmetic procedure that uses a mesh implant to help form perfectly upright ears.

“It’s really an owner preference and a breed standard kind of thing,” said pet owner and veterinarian Dr. Heather Hughes.

Photos supplied to CBS 2 also showed a dog with pierced ears, and another one with a tattoo inked on.

But most veterinarians do not support cosmetic enhancement for pets, unless they are for the health benefit of the animals.

“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,” Bern said.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, along with the Humane Society of the United States, are also both against performing surgery for cosmetic reasons alone.

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

But there are many cosmetic procedures that are indeed undertaken for health reasons. If your pet has a bad bite, for example, it can cause a lot of pain.

Orthodontics such as braces can help straighten teeth.

CBS 2’s Johnson recently met “Obie,” once an extremely obese dachshund. After he was adopted, he was put on a special diet and lost massive amounts of weight, but was left with his skin dragging on the ground.

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

Obie underwent a tummy tuck, which his owner said changed his life.

“Are we improving the health and the life of that pet? And if we are, then we have justification to do it,” Bern said.

Pet cosmetic surgery can be costly, and typically is not covered by insurance.

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