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

Archive for the 'Health' Category

Cancer Awareness

Thursday, November 27th, 2008 by Jenna

From cervical cancer vaccines to potential treatments, cancer research has been progressing at a hopeful rate lately. Our dogs are also susceptible to this condition of abnormal cell growth. It’s a more frequent occurrence in older dogs–nearly half of all dogs over 10 years old will develop cancer. Some breeds are more susceptible to certain forms of cancer than others. Boxers may develop skin tumors, German shepherds may develop spleen tumors and bone cancer is common in giant breeds. Some pesticides, herbicides and radiation can also increase the risk for cancer.

When dogs come in for grooming, we examine their skin and fur throughout the process. If we find anything unusual, we will let the owner know. When it comes to cancer, this means abnormal swelling, sores that don’t heal, lumps, etc. Some symptoms you may see at home include bleeding or discharge from any body orifice, difficulty eating, swallowing or breathing, and difficulty urinating or defecating among other more generic symptoms like weight loss.

If your dog develops cancer, a veterinary recommendation is to maintain your dog’s usual routine whenever possible. Frequent exercise (as able) keeps your dog healthy physically and in a positive state of mind. Like humans, dogs can undergo chemotherapy and if so they usually have increased protein and energy demands.

Click here for a thorough article on mast cell tumors, one of the most common cancers in dogs.

Oral Health

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007 by Jenna

We don’t usually think about our pets needing a visit to the dentist, but maybe we should. By age 3 about 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of dental disease. It is more common in older pets and small dogs who have overcrowded or misaligned teeth which are more difficult to keep clean. The symptoms of dental disease include bad breath, sore mouth, dribbling, yellow or brown tartar, bleeding gums, pawing the mouth, loose teeth, tooth loss, and difficulty eating.

Usually the cause of these symptoms is a buildup of hardened plaque which can lead to gingivitis (inflamed gums) and further progress to periodontal disease. Oral health is not just about teeth—poor oral health actually can affect organs in the body. The toxins are transferred through the blood stream to cause infections in the liver, kidneys and brain.

Talk to your veterinarian about preventive care for your pet’s teeth. Care may include specially designed toys, large kibble (wet foods build plaque more rapidly), and even tooth brushing!  Some grooming shops are now offering some sort of dental care as part of the grooming visit, but cleaning every 6 to 8 weeks really isn’t the answer. ….can you imagine brushing your teeth at that frequency? Doubt most dogs would put up with it. Oral hygiene should be done several times a week by the owner starting as a puppy so they can learn to accept this just as they would a grooming session. We carry tooth brushes and paste, in addition to dental wipes, here at the salon.

Click here for more details about oral health for dogs as well as a chart including pictures of dog teeth with varying degrees of dental disease.

Also keep an eye out for the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of acceptance for products that have met their standards.

Backyard Breeders

Friday, October 26th, 2007 by Mike Cronk

Archived from “The Paw Report:”  Issue #16.

We’ve used this term before–backyard breeders.  It is estimated that 2/3s of the 50 million dogs in the US have come from backyard breeders.  It is a term that is typically derogatory because it denotes careless breeding.  A professional breeder will put quite a bit of money into the prevention and detection of genetic diseases.   Dogs with physical or emotional health issues will not be bred.  A backyard breeder will breed their dog with any other dog of the same breed (or even of different breeds) without researching the health and temperament issues that the breed is susceptible to.

Typically it is recommended that a puppy buyer look for a show dog breeder and buy one of the puppies that isn’t quite show quality.  AKC registration alone does not mean that a breeder is reputable because AKC staff do not visit breeders–the registration is done through mail and all puppies in an AKC litter—regardless of faults—are eligible for AKC registration.  There are certainly some disreputable show and working breeders.  In this case, their breeding focuses on augmenting one aspect of the breed (usually physical) without regard to maintaining temperament.  Careless breeding also involves inbreeding that produces genetically weak animals that may have debilitating physical deformities.

A breeder who breeds massive amounts of dogs, usually in poor health and social conditions, is the owner of a puppy mill (called a puppy farm in the UK).  These commercial operations are typically where pet shops get their puppies.  Aside from poor breeding practices, puppies from puppy mills do not get the individualized social attention that they need.  They also typically live in unhealthy conditions and when they are shipped from the puppy mill to a pet shop, the stress of heavy travel at a young age makes them susceptible to disease, infections, and parasites from other puppies at the pet shop.  Pet shop puppies are particularly prone to distemper and parvovirus.  Parvovirus symptoms may be dormant for several weeks–enough time for a puppy to look healthy and be taken to a new home.  Pet shops do not typically offer the fresh air, exercise, play, and socialization for a puppy to become well-adjusted.

Calories in, Calories out

Friday, October 26th, 2007 by Mike Cronk

I had a customer pick up his Cocker after we gave him a short hair cut all over. The customer remarked to his dog, “Boy, you really are getting fat, just like the vet said.” He then asked me what I suggested. I asked him what he fed his dog. He said “Iams.” I asked how much – he said he didn’t know, that he just keeps the bowl full and the dog free feeds. No comment.

I don’t imagine when dogs were wild that they were different from any other animal – it’s all about survival and that means food and water 24-7. They gorged themselves not knowing when the next meal would come. My Great Dane, Molly, never stopped eating. I remember that when she was a 9 month old pup I thought I could feed her all she would eat – after all, she was a growing giant breed. Wrong! She ate so much she started to get fat, and there is nothing more pathetic than a fat giant breed dog. I cut back on her groceries quick.

Just because a food is fat free doesn’t mean that it is okay to gorge on it. And it’s not all about carbs either. We need to eat balanced meals and our portions should allow us a trade for the calories which we burn that day. If you have to eat 1800 calories a day based on your activity load and metabolism, then consuming 1900 is 100 too much. It’s that simple and we know it. If you exercise, you burn more calories — you can eat a little more. If you have a big piece of chocolate cake, then you just took a big hunk out of your calories for that day. The same is true for your dog. Calories in, calories out. You need to find out what the recommended portion of food is for your dog’s age and breed and stick to it on top of an exercise schedule. Lizzie is at two cups of Purina One in the morning and 2 cups at night. Period. If you insist on giving your dog treats for training or pleasure, make sure they are healthy and make sure to count the calories and then subtract that from dinner to prevent overfeeding. One vet I know recommends baby carrots for a dog treat — dogs usually love them. 

If your dog is losing or gaining weight over time, adjust your portions accordingly. Obviously age and activity level are a factor. But make no mistake; barring a medical reason, obesity in dogs is a reflection of the owner’s care.

Allergies and Dog Hair

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007 by Jenna

Unfortunately, the non-shedding, hypoallergenic dog is a myth.  Even hairless breeds shed dander and many allergies stem not from hair but from skin oil.  However, there are some dogs which shed less than others and thus have less chance of spreading allergens.  These dogs include single-coated dogs, those who do not have a thick undercoat to shed.  The Bichon, Yorkshire Terrier, Cairn, and Maltese are all single-coated dogs who are low-shedders.  Poodles are also included because, instead of frequent shedding, their coat continues to grow like human hair. 

When looking for a low-allergen dog, do not base your decision on puppies or kittens.  As animals age, their sebaceous glands produce more of the oil which can cause problems for allergy sufferers.  Spend lengths of time with an adult of the breed to determine whether an allergy will grow to bother you.  Within any litter of any breed you may find an animal that you have no reaction to or that you are very sensitive to.  In general, female animals produce less allergens than males and smaller dogs produce less allergens than larger dogs.  Frequent grooming will reduce allergens.


Tuesday, April 17th, 2007 by Mike Cronk

Whew—that’s a mouthful!  The title is the name of a yeast overgrowth which has been responsible for many problems in both man and dog.  According to “The Whole Dog Journal,” it is an “underlying cause of many skin and coat problems, food sensitivities and other symptoms in our canine companions.”  Based on this list, a lot of the coat and skin problems we see as groomers could be diagnosed as yeast infections, including: “recurring hot spots or infections of the ears, eyes, bladder or urinary tract.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Diet Pills for Dogs

Thursday, January 18th, 2007 by Jenna

The FDA recently approved Slentrol, a drug designed specifically for dogs which would decrease appetite and fat absorption to promote weight loss. This drug targets the 5% of dogs who are obese and the 20-30% who are considered medically overweight (as compared with the 2/3 rate for American weight covering both ranges).


Like humans, overweight dogs are at a higher risk for developing problems such as diabetes, heart trouble, joint issues, etc.

The use of a diet pill reduces the need to restrict treats and make time for exercise.

Can be used for 3 months.

Side effects include vomiting, loose stools, diarrhea and lethargy.

Stephanie Slain, humane society spokeswoman comments, “If you’re going to spend 15 minutes, spend it walking your dog instead of cleaning up diarrhea.”

See Mike’s article on nutrition for further information regarding weight management for your dog through nourishing meals.


Thursday, January 18th, 2007 by Mike Cronk

A dog’s diet is guided by several shifting nutritional factors which necessitate different diets due to age, breed, genetics, body weight, and activity level.  In some cases, even climate becomes a consideration. 

First, we need to look scientifically at the development of the canine’s ability to process food back to their wolf ancestry.  Dogs were primarily carnivores meaning that they’re built to eat, digest and absorb nutrients that are, for the most part, extracted from a meat diet.  An analysis of the teeth and digestive system of the carnivore vs. the herbivore indicates subtle differences that are essential to a proper diet.  Carnivores tear their food and gulp it down with limited, if any, chewing.  Herbivores have broad molars with the ability to break down plant material in preparation for digestion.  The length of the intestine of the dog is far short than that of a plant eating animal of equal size.  The dog needs the direct protein and vitamin source found in meat whereas herbivores have developed with a much longer digestive tract as well as bacteria within it which are able to process indirect proteins found in vegetable matter such as soy.  A vegetarian diet for dogs would not provide for optimal health due to their digestive limitations.

Aspects to pay attention to when shopping for your dog’s healthy meal:

1. The dog’s keenest sense is smell—make it smell good and you’re in business!
2. Taste matters, but not as much as smell.
3. Meat costs more than corn.  Dog food with quality meat byproducts is going to be more expensive than grain based products.  Sorry, but good nutrition will cost you more.
One thing we can say for dogs that we can also say for humans is that, yes, calories in should equal calories out.  Assuming you are feeding your dog a balanced diet, make sure the amount is regulated.  Consider age, exercise, breed, etc and then feed an according amount.  This consideration is why I don’t feed Lizzie treats or table scraps—I’m not interested in carrying around a notebook to total up the nutrition and calories of everything that goes into her mouth!  Meals are enough, and remember if your dog eats too much “lite” dog food he can still get too many calories and get fat!  Along with “calories in, calories out” we can add “you are what you eat!”
4. Dehydrated meat and byproducts weigh less than canned meat which can be 80% water so labels by weight can be confusing.

Minimum requirements for nutrition have been established by the FDA for two phases of a dog’s life – growth/reproduction and adult maintenance.  Go to and search dog nutrition.  Once there, click on “Selecting nutritious pet foods” for an easy to understand chart.

You’ll note that companies like Purina offer foods that carry minimum requirements but also a more expensive variety (Purina One) which costs more but boasts higher quality content.  This is their effort to compete with more nutritious dog foods which are manufactured by smaller, personalized companies and are available exclusively in pet stores.

Health Care in the Heat

Monday, August 14th, 2006 by Mike Cronk

 On top of the heat advisory, watch that humidity too.  High humidity and moderate temperatures can stress a dog as much as a midday sun.  Obese dogs, flat-faced dogs and the combination of both run an even higher risk of heat stress and/or heat stroke.  Pay attention to the weather and what your dog can handle.  Right now, it’s best to exercise your dog in the cooler air of dawn and dusk only. 

Archived from “The Paw Report:”  Issue #13, July

Dogs need water but keeping your dog hydrated is not a complete solution—neither is a short haircut.  Left to their own accord, dogs will seek out shade and dig holes in the earth to avoid midday heat.  Most wild animals do.  Hunting usually takes place at night and very little activity goes on during the day.  Even the birds in my backyard disappear and are most active at dusk and dawn.

My Golden, Lizzie, pants to stay cool even when she’s in the shade.  To beat the heat, we only exercise in the morning—5:45am!  It is dangerous to do otherwise.

For more information about haircut styles and keeping cool read our Brushout, Short cut or Something in Between article.

To read our past story about health care in the heat, continue reading below.

Archived from “The Paw Report:”  Issue #1, July

My Great Dane Molly was almost 8 years old last summer (for a member of a giant breed, she was getting up there in years). At least five days a week, the first thing we did in the morning was go on a three mile walk. Finished walking, she would accompany me to work (or to Lowe’s or on any other trip I needed to make). She was my “bud” and I think my wife Loretta was jealous! At any rate, when I would head for the door she was following right behind, happy to go anywhere with me.

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