Pantops Pet Salon
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Pantops Pet Salon & Spa
Charlottesville's Professional Dog Grooming

It's what we do -- it's all we do.

(434) 293-2424
Fax: (434) 293-8231
504 Pantops Center
Charlottesville, VA 22911

The Pain Threshold

Friday, August 10th, 2007 by Mike Cronk

In general, dogs are fairly stoic animals when it comes to pain—much like the rest of the animal kingdom.  Human beings are the exception.  For dogs, it is all about survival of the fittest and concealing any signs of weakness.  Nursing mothers will not feed a pup if it can’t make its way to a teat and other pups will push it out of the way.  From the very beginning, dogs must not show signs of weakness or the pack will turn on them—there is no room for stragglers in the hunt. 

This is evident to us in grooming—we see some health situations in our dogs that would drive a human crazy, but the dogs show very few signs of pain.  That survival instinct is still prevalent in many of our breeds and showing pain is just not fashionable!  Think about flea and tick infestation—could you imagine living with 30+ fleas biting all over you?  Some of the chronic ear infections we see surely cause excruciating pain and headaches.  When our older pets become arthritic and lose muscle tone in their back legs that’s got to hurt.  I know at 61, my joints aren’t what they used to be and an occasional Tylenol is helpful.  Keep in mind that when dogs are healing from surgery or a broken bone the use of painkillers may not be wise.  The associated pain will keep your dog inactive while the healing takes place—otherwise he may re-injure himself. 

On the other hand, breeding has certainly minimized this instinct in many of our companion dogs—especially the Toys.  If you heard and saw some of our pups getting their first haircut you would think we were really being mean—their fear of pain certainly isn’t held back.  Once we show them through patience and firmness that we are not trying to hurt them, they generally settle down.  As dogs are bred for companionship more than work, many traits, instincts and sense abilities are being altered like this.

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