told her dog Ace would need cosmetic surgery,
Jennifer Scaturro of Arnold, Maryland, was
surprised. But the surgery for an inturned eyelid
stopped Ace from having cotinually watery eyes and
rubbing his eyes with the back of his paws.
— Ace, a youthful Labrador, bounds across his lawn,
fielding tennis balls and hurrying them back to his
tail wags. His coat is thick and shiny. He barks with
enthusiasm. To the naked eye, Ace is a strapping example
of dogdom. Who would guess that he’s had work done?
eye job, in fact.
is one of thousands of dogs that have had plastic
surgery. A little nip. A little tuck. Eye lifts. Nose
jobs. Exactly the sorts of procedures people get. But
unlike cosmetic surgery for humans, dogs and cats aren’t
doing it to look better at their high school reunion.
call it cosmetic surgery just because it’s altering an
animal’s facial features," said Dr. Jules Benson,
vice president of veterinary services at Petplan, a pet
insurance provider. "It changes the look of an
animal, but you are doing it to prevent further disease
and to better the health of the animal."
and Jennifer Scaturro of Arnold, Md., brought Ace to
their veterinarian two years ago because his eyes wouldn’t
stop watering. They’d tear and tear. And they’d see
him rubbing at his face with his front paws.
the vet said Ace might have in-turned eyelids, a common
condition called entropion, and directed the family to a
plastic surgeon, they had never heard of such a thing
surgery? What next — teeth whitening and Perrier in
his water bowl?
almost thought I was getting scammed a bit," said
Jennifer Scaturro. "I had no idea. But then I
thought, ‘People who have skin cancer go to a cosmetic
surgeon.’ It seemed reasonable."
eye specialist confirmed Ace had entropion, causing his
lashes to constantly brush the surface of his eyes. It’s
painful and, if untreated, could lead to permanent eye
damage. Plastic surgery was the best option, they were
the Scaturros spent $674 on a puppy eyelift, a procedure
so subtle it’s hard to detect, even squinting at
before-and-after pictures. But one that nevertheless
changed their Ace’s life.
can’t even imagine having eyelashes in my eyes every
single day," Jennifer Scaturro says. "I think
it made his quality of life so much better. His eyes
have been great."
circulate in the pet world about dogs and cats getting
slimmed by liposuction and de-wrinkled with Botox. There’s
a vet in Brazil who has built a reputation for helping a
pet’s droopy ears stand at attention with silicone
injections. And for decades, owners aghast after
stripping their dog’s manhood have substituted
Neuticles for the real thing.
the United States, purely aesthetic surgeries are rare
and generally frowned upon, Benson says. The American
Kennel Club forbids cosmetically enhancing a show dog
except in cases of breed standards — like tail
docking. The Humane Society Veterinary Medical
Association campaigns against tail docking, ear
cropping, debarking, declawing and any operation an
animal doesn’t medically need.
using plastic surgery for just that has become common.
far, most pets getting cosmetic surgery are getting
eyelifts to correct entropion and nose jobs to fix
breathing problems seen regularly in the smooshed-nose,
brachycephalic breeds such as pugs and French bulldogs.
2011, Petplan’s top year for plastic surgery, the
company paid 79 claims for 53 pets to have cosmetic work
done. Most of them had either entropion or
brachycephalic surgery. The company only covers
medically necessary procedures — customers who want
synthetic dog testicles are on their own.
plastic surgery claims dropped more than 27 percent in
2012. But the company expects owners to continue
choosing it for their pets.
an industry, we’re getting much better at addressing
life issues sooner than we ever have been before,"
Benson says. "More and more people are taking the
step, saying is this something we can do."
Jennifer Hyman, a veterinarian for Eye Care for Animals
in Annapolis, Md., performed Ace’s eye job — and has
done dozens of others just like it.
becoming an eye specialist, she performed several brow
lifts as a general practitioner, including one on a
Shar-Pei whose trademark wrinkles were irritating his
corneas and another on a bloodhound with facial skin so
droopy it shrouded his eyes like curtains. She helped a
breathing-impaired pug with a nose job, shortening his
soft palate and widening his nostrils.
yes, if an owner insisted, and she was operating anyway,
Hyman would grudgingly agree to Neuticles, knowing a dog
could take or leave those particular private parts.
all laugh at the idea of Neuticles, but we also feel
like they’re pretty harmless, too," she says.
"It makes the people feel better. I don’t think
the dogs really care."