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

Quality of Life – When is it “Time”?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007 by Mike Cronk

When I first went into business in 1975, Dave Orebaugh, DVM was opening up his practice where Charlottesville Animal Hospital is today. I asked him if he would take me under his wing and treat the dogs in my care as a priority. Outside this business relationship, we became good friends. Knowing that in the boarding and grooming business I would be dealing with the geriatric days of a dog’s life, I wanted to know what his answer was for putting a dog “to sleep.” He said, ‘when they no longer have quality of life, it is time.’ That made sense and I use it as a guideline to this day. No dog of mine would suffer chronic pain or be so incontinent that they would suffer urine stains and constantly dribble. If my dog has been the perfect companion I think he deserves to go with the fondest of memories–suffering from senility or severe arthritis is not part of the deal. Of course, all avenues of medical intervention should be exercised first.

This quality of life and comfort guideline comes into play in my decisions as a groomer as well. I will not put a dog through undue pain in order to groom him. Boarding and grooming lead to stress, discomfort, and anxiety with our older pets so we approach grooming the geriatric with a lot of caution. The onset of arthritis—especially in the back legs can make grooming in the normal fashion (or at all) quite painful. Lifting feet to scissor and clip pads can be too much for a dog to bear. Blindness and senility also lead to stress and fear and the accompanying reactions (biting, jerking, etc) make the process dangerous for both dog and groomer.

While we may not feel it is necessarily time to put your dog to sleep, we certainly don’t want the discomfort of grooming to lead to a heart attack or seizure (both of which I have seen). We will let you know when we are no longer comfortable putting your dog through the grooming process. But then comes the question, “if you’re not going to groom her, what should I do?” The only reasonable solution is to groom your dog every day—spend 15-20 minutes combing, brushing and spot washing with dry shampoo. Frequent, personalized grooming in short sessions will keep your dog comfortable. Keep this in mind as your dog gets older, before we need to say anything. Putting off grooming until your dog matts up just makes the process even more uncomfortable for her.

I know this is a touchy subject and each person faces it in their own way. It takes courage to determine when the quality of life isn’t there anymore and my threshold may not be yours. I respect that. However, our decision to no longer groom an elderly dog is non-negotiable.

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