Cosmetic procedures are being booked for the canine set - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Plastic surgery for your pet?

(FOX19) -

You've heard countless stories about plastic surgery, including the cost and dangers associated with it.

But what about plastic surgery for your pet? Turns out, people are actually spending big bucks on procedures for their cat or dog.

From pet braces, cosmetic eye replacements and tummy tucks to a Doberman named Kaiser who's recovering from ear implant surgery for perfectly upright ears, some owners are putting their pets under the knife to give them "the right look."

"The cartilage has not stiffened all the way, so his ears did not stand up completely," said Veterinarian Dr. Chris Bern.

These mesh implants for ear "lifts" are one of the many new advancements in pet plastic surgery. In addition, the cosmetic changes are happening in and out of the operating room. 

There are pictures of dogs with pierced ears and artsy tattoos online, and even an ad for implants to help neutered pooches.  It's something Dr. Bern has already been asked about in his practice.

"I think it is becoming more common for clients to pay for cosmetic surgeries," he said.

Make no bones about it, purely cosmetic procedures can be expensive, sometimes costing hundreds to thousands of dollars. Pet insurance doesn't typically cover it, and many vets, like Dr. 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," Dr. Bern explained.

Both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States are 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.

However, there are many cosmetic procedures that are done for health reasons such as the extremely obese dog, Obie. After he was adopted, he was put on a special diet and lost massive amounts of weight but was left with excess skin dragging on the ground. A recent tummy tuck surgery definitely changed things.

If your pet has a bad bite, there's even orthodontists to help straighten teeth that become painful. Dr. 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."  

Dr. Heather Hughes made sure Kaiser was healthy enough to undergo the procedure and chalks it all up to owner preference.

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

Copyright 2013 WXIX. All rights reserved.

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