Viewpoint 11/23: Doggy facelifts

Nipping and tucking and cutting, oh my! Plastic surgery is becoming more and more commonplace in America. According to data collected by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the most common cosmetic surgery in 2010 was the breast augmentation. The second-most frequent was the removal of breast implants.

But, aside from augmenting ourselves, a rising trend is pet plastic surgery. That’s right — if Fido is looking a little droopy, a little wrinkly, a little flabby, some owners are opting for a surgical solution. Some of the more common procedures are facelifts, tummy tucks and testicle implants. Keep in mind that these are for animals. Testicle implants . . . for animals.

The American focus on the physical isn’t new or secret, but when is it just too much? How young is too young? How radical is too radical?

Aside from the crazy physical toll this would take on an animal, think about the money being spent. MSNBC quotes the procedural cost at around $1,000. For that money, we could make a house payment, pay for half a semester of school, pay off a credit card or buy nearly 1,000 sodas. All this to make your dog look thinner, younger or more masculine.

Maybe some of the shock of animal plastic surgery comes from the nature of owning a pet. They are less like property and more like children, or family. Then they look at us with those big eyes and beg for a belly rub and a treat, and some people want to cut them open.

These plastic surgery procedures are often unnecessary on humans and nearly always unnecessary on animals. While some breeds are prone to certain health complications which might eventually lead to corrective surgery, there is no reason to give your dog breast implants or a tummy tuck. Animals and children are the epitome of innocence and helplessness. When has a puppy looked “too fat” or “too wrinkly”?

At some point, we need to look inward. What would motivate people to do this to their pets? It is a dissatisfaction with the self, not the animal, that leads to a costly and unnecessary procedure that could have serious complications for the pet. The owner isn’t the one going through the painful recovery, and the animal has no way of refusing surgery it doesn’t need. Are we projecting our insecurities onto our pets?

The sagging ears, lopsided face, chubby belly, droopy skin — those are what make our animals cute and lovable. We like them for the childlike features. You wouldn’t want to give a baby liposuction; don’t do it to a pet. You wouldn’t make a toddler get a facelift; don’t do it to a pet. You wouldn’t make them get breast implants, butt implants, tummy tucks, Botox; don’t do it to a pet. If the patient can’t agree to the procedure, with full clarity of mind, they should not be forced to go through the consequences of surgery, whether they are a person or not.