In veterinary medicine there are many elective surgical procedures that are done that do not necessarily have documented health benefits or advantages. Some procedures are done because of breed standards and for cosmetic reasons, rather than directly benefiting the health of the individual animal. Two of the most common procedures still done for these reasons include ear cropping and tail docking of certain dog breeds. While many pets seem unaffected long-term by such procedures, I find that these surgical procedures are indeed very painful, as they involve removing parts of nerve-rich extremities.
While veterinarians try and perform these elective procedures in very young puppies, the long-term emotional traumatic effects are not well understood. Tail docking done in few day old puppies is typically done without anesthesia, and puppies will often cry when the procedure is done. While ear cropping is typically done under anesthesia in older puppies, there is still a potential painful recovery period, as well as the risk of occasional complications during a time of the maturing immune system.
If such procedures are done, analgesic pain medication is always recommended. I will also use natural homeopathic remedies such as arnica, hypericum, and staphysagria, as well as flower essences such as Be Serene to help reduce emotional and physical pain.