Cosmetic surgery for people is one thing. But for pets?

You betcha; and, just like with humans, some of it’s medically necessary and some of it isn’t

BY FRANSI WEINSTEIN

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Has vanity gone too far?

None of it, however, includes face lifts, tummy tucks or breast implants. At least not yet. But that doesn’t mean vanity isn’t involved. Except the difference with our four-legged friends is, they’re not the ones who’ve decided to “have a little work done.” It’s mommy or daddy who want the nips and tucks.

One of the most common areas to “nip,” at least with certain dog breeds, is the tail

It’s said that tail docking (intentional removal of part of an animal’s tail) dates all the way back to the Roman Empire. The justification for it was to prevent injury to all kinds of farm animals, including working dogs.

When I spoke with Dr. Sheldon Jafine, our Get Leashed Veterinarian-in-Residence, he told me that “while there might have been a logical reason for it hundreds of years ago, there’s never been a ‘medical reason’ to do it; and that it continues to this day because it’s ‘a tradition’.” A tradition not followed, incidentally, in his clinics.

He suggested I contact the Canadian Kennel Club for their views:

Richard Paquette, Chair of their Cropping and Docking Committee, was very helpful. He confirmed docking’s origins, adding that it was “also done to hunting dogs to prevent their tails from getting caught or injured when they wagged them in the rough brush.”

He then went on to emphasize that “the Canadian Kennel Club has no breeding standards that require mandatory docking or cropping;” and that, in fact, “they are currently reviewing all their material with the intention of spelling out, very clearly, that breeders have a choice, even when it comes to show dogs.

What I wasn’t so happy to discover — especially after Dr. Jafine told me it’s often botched and Veterinarians then have to do corrective surgery — is that some breeders do this procedure (tail docking) themselves, on newborns, without anesthetic. Proponents insist that when it’s done so early in the puppy’s life it’s not as traumatic as it is on an older puppy. Speaking strictly for myself, I’d like to know how anyone can possibly know that.

Some of the other reasons owners put their dogs under the knife to “enhance their looks”

“Ear cropping,” Mr. Paquette (Canadian Kennel Club expert) explained, “is the removal of the external flap of the ear and it’s another ancient practice that was done for health and practical reasons.” Apparently back then it was believed to decrease ear infections and especially hematomas (blood clots) in animals used for pit-fighting sports.

And yes, it’s also done for cosmetic reasons in nations, like Canada and the United States, where it’s still legal. I’m guessing you’ve seen Doberman, Great Dane, Boxer and even Schnauzer puppies with bandages on their ears. Now you know why.

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