Cosmetic Pet Procedures - what do they entail and are they necessary for your pet? You may have heard vets use the term "Medically Unnecessary Vet Surgery." However, new cosmetic procedures for pets continuously pop up in the news for both wellness or aesthetic reasoning.

So what exactly are they? Are any of them worth it? Why are they becoming more popular in certain breeds? In the interest of maintaining better pet wellness, we will quickly dive into this topic.

What is a Cosmetic Pet Procedure?

A cosmetic pet procedure is one that changes some physical aspect of your pet. Sometimes this has to do with dog wellness or cat wellness. In other cases, it's a matter of convenience or style. Just like cosmetic procedures that humans seek out, there are a variety of potential reasons people seek out cosmetic pet procedures for their pets.

Often a cosmetic pet procedure involves removing or reducing a feature, such as tail docking or ear trimming and pinning. In other cases, it involves an addition, such as adding a prosthetic to a portion of the animal that had to be removed for other reasons.

Are Cosmetic Pet Procedures a Good Idea?

In general, Wagmo and any pet lover will highly discourage cosmetic pet procedures for aesthetic/appearance reasons. While there are certain cases where they can be necessary, they can do more harm than good and for minimal benefit in many cases when it comes to how your pet feels.

“Both the American Veterinary Association (AVMA) and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association oppose surgical alterations that are not for the benefit of the dog and merely for cosmetic purposes. Even in the US, there are fewer veterinarians who are willing to perform this surgery and ear cropping is no longer being taught at colleges of veterinary medicine.”
- The Happy Puppy Site

What you need to always keep in mind when talking about cosmetic surgeries is the actual pet wellness and how this surgery will affect your pets happiness, health and healing. Is this procedure making life better for your pet? If it's only for your own cosmetic preferences, it's nearly always a bad idea and causing unnecessary harm and trauma to your pet and not to mention your wallet.

Some examples of popular cosmetic procedures that have become controversial are tail docking and ear trimming in dogs. It is possible that in ancient times, these procedures may have had the purpose of improving the effectiveness of dogs when hunting. Today they are mainly only done for reasons of appearance to make a dog “appear” more mean/tough.

However, both have absolutely no benefit for your dog's wellbeing and can be painful for the animal, traumatic to go into surgery and an expensive road to recovery for pain medications, anti inflammatory and antifungal. This surgery often times is not successful and also causes more difficulty in understanding how your pet is feeling. Dogs especially express their feelings through putting their ears back when scared, floppy when relaxed or pointed up when alerted. Cropping takes away this important means of expression.

When are Cosmetic Pet Procedures Worth It?

Some cosmetic pet surgeries may have potential benefits, and you must weigh them carefully. Declawing cats is one of the best known cat cosmetic procedures and has some of the most heated debates around it.

While many are opposed to declawing cats, others feel that it is the only option for cats that are chronic scratchers or have small children. In this case, you can still consider the best choices for your pet that involve the least amount of trauma to their body.

It's often the best option to avoid this surgery and rather stay on top of your cat wellness with routine grooming, whether that is a visit to a professional groomer, vet or at home trimming of your cat's nails. Cat scratching is instinctive and their preferred method of communicating and relieving stress. Over 84% of the cat population indicate scratching, from furniture to carpets - it’s completely normal and part of their instincts.  

We encourage our readers not to perceive cat scratching as a negative phenomenon and to always avoid declawing. Setting the unrealistic expectation that cat scratching is preventable only sets you up for disappointment and a very unfulfilled life for your cat.

In some cases, cosmetic procedures are for the purpose of addressing an illness or injury. Sometimes these are for your benefit, helping a pet disguise a disfigurement, such as a prosthetic eye. In other cases, they can help your pet function more normally, such as with a prosthetic leg.

Some cosmetic procedures are minor and mostly harmless. For example, as long as you use a non-toxic coloring substance, there isn't much lasting damage done by dying your cat or dog's coat a new color.

Safe Cosmetic Care

Of course, you can make your pet look the best without resorting to potentially unsafe procedures. Good pet grooming and dental care are both essential parts of pet wellness that can also leave your pet looking its best. With Wagmo's pet wellness program, you can even get part of your grooming care covered!

So you can make sure your pet looks its best in a safe way while keeping their wellness in mind.