At Clent Hills Vets we are seeing an increasing number of dogs being brought in with health problems related to excessive skin folds around the face.
Our team is performing facelift procedures on dogs to alleviate their suffering with fantastic results.
Take Ozzy, a chow chow who was suffering so badly from ‘entropion’ that his eyes were infected and weeping, and his whole demeanour seemed lethargic and ‘fed up’. Read on to discover how plastic surgery changed Ozzy’s life.
What is entropion?
Entropion is where the eyelid(s) folds inwards, pushing the eyelashes and surrounding hair into the eye. This causes irritation, chronic pain and can even lead to blindness if left untreated. In Ozzy’s case, the entropion was caused by excessive skin on his forehead and around his face pushing everything forward, including all that thick hair, towards his eyes.
About the chow chow
The chow chow is one of the oldest recognised breeds in the world and is thought to be one of the first primitive dogs to evolve from the wolf. Originating in northern China, the chow chow is referred to there as Songshi Quan, which means ‘puffy lion dog’, and is believed to be one of the native dogs used as the model for the Foo dog, the traditional stone guardians placed in front of Buddhist temples and palaces.
Sometimes known as just chows, they were bred as a general-purpose working dogs for herding, hunting, pulling and guarding. Some historians believe that chows accompanied the Mongolian armies into war in the 13th century. Chows were also bred for human consumption.
Too many wrinkles
Under a thick mane of hair, the chow chow has excessive folds of skin, or wrinkles, on its face, which push the skin and hair forward, giving it that cuddly teddy bear look. It’s said that the original teddy bear was modelled on Queen Victoria’s chow puppy to stop her taking her dog everywhere with her, instead she could take her teddy bear.
The wrinkles are caused by genetics; the HAS2 gene, responsible for making hyaluronic acid (one of the key components in the skin), acts differently in some breeds of dog, causing the skin to wrinkle. However, this dog’s ‘cuddly’ appearance makes it popular in the western world.
Ozzy gets a facelift
Rod Stroud BVSc MRCVS Director & Vet, carried out Ozzy’s facelift; here he tells us what the operation entailed and why he performed it.
“Ozzy’s eyes were weeping heavily and looked extremely sore and painful. Surgery was the only way to correct his condition and improve his quality of life. First, we removed some of the excessive skin folds on Ozzy’s forehead and around the sides of his face, pulling the skin upwards and back to stop it pushing towards his eyes.
Then we performed a wedge resection on his upper and lower lids. When the skin is droopy and stretched, the eyelids become ‘floppy’ and open to infection. By removing sections (wedges) of skin you can tighten the eyelids so they fit correctly against the eyes. Removing skin from the lower lids in particular, forces the eyelid to push outwards, stopping the eyelashes from being able to curl inwards.”
A new look for Ozzy
Immediately following his procedure, like many, Ozzy’s owners were a little taken aback by how different his face looked. “It can be a shock at first when you see the shaved hair and staples around the dog’s face, which are an immediate but temporary necessity with this type of surgery” explains Rod.
With Ozzy recovering at home, his owner quickly forgot about the change in his appearance, once they saw how different their dog’s demeanour now was. Ozzy’s owner explained when she brought him back to have his staples and sutures removed, “We were told that chow chows are not overly playful, but once Ozzy started to recover from surgery he was much more bouncy and playful and seemed a lot happier in himself. We felt sure at that point it was because he was now much more comfortable.”
Ozzy’s owners had this to say about his procedure: “It was awful to see Ozzy in continued discomfort in his eyes, we knew something needed to be done. When we were told about Entropion surgery it was quite a daunting decision to make when he was still young but we knew we had to do what’s best for Ozzy. We were told Ozzy’s case was quite severe so there was no question in going ahead with it.”
“Post op we are so pleased with how Ozzy’s procedure has gone. It was such a shock to see what he looked like straight after surgery but we appreciated how much better his eyes looked, and after a few days of recovery we could clearly see he felt so much more comfortable and happier in himself. This assured us alone that it was the best decision for Ozzy. All staff involved were very supportive, informative and reassuring about Ozzy’s procedure, and after surgery this support has continued. Ozzy is now happier than ever and we would like to thank all involved at Clent Hills Vets”.
Should we perform this type of surgery?
It is true that this type of plastic surgery procedure often results in the dog not having the typical ‘breed standard appearance’ afterwards, however, when the animal’s health is suffering, there should really be no question about performing this type of surgery.
If you’re interested in this topic or have a dog that suffers from this type of condition or from infections in the skin folds themselves, come and talk to us and find out how we could help them.
Rod Stroud, Plastic Surgeon for Dogs
Ozzy’s surgery was carried out by our Vet, Rod Stroud, who has performed many specialist surgery procedures on animals to improve their quality of life. You can read about some of Rod and his team’s work below.