It depends on the breed of your dog, his lifestyle, your at-home grooming routines, and on how you want him to look and smell. While it’s true that a clean animal is a healthier one, excessive bathing can dry out the skin and strip it of its natural oils. Generally speaking, short-coated dogs with no skin conditions can go six to eight weeks between baths unless they have gotten into something dirty or smelly. Longer-coated dogs should be groomed every four to six weeks to ensure their hair doesn’t get matted and isn’t harboring insects or hiding skin conditions. Of course, certain haircut dogs should be groomed more often than others to maintain their appearance.
Actually, because of the effects of salt and snow on the animal’s body, in general, more frequent grooming is called for in the winter.
As part of the grooming process, we clean the ears and pluck hair from the ear opening (unless the owner asks us not to do so) to allow air to flow more freely into the ear to keep it dry. After cleaning and removal of the ear hair, the dog sometimes has a tickling sensation and shaking his head is the dog’s way of responding to the tickle.
Water in a dog’s ear canal can predispose it to infection. This is why we place cotton balls in the ear openings before bathing to block water from entering the ear, and then remove the cotton and clean the ears following the bath. However, most ear infections in dogs are caused by issues having nothing to do with water exposure during grooming. Floppy-eared dogs tend to have more ear problems than upright-eared dogs because air exchange is restricted by their ear flaps and an unhealthy amount of humidity will result which can create an environment for infection.
We treat dandruff on pets with shampoo developed for that purpose so we can reduce the symptoms. However, there’s an underlying cause for dandruff such as diet or a skin disorder for which you should see your veterinarian for a course of treatment.
We remove individual ticks with tweezers. If fleas are suspected, we examine the body for “flea dirt” (dry blood that looks like sand grains) with a flea comb. If either is found, we then apply an organic flea/tick shampoo derived from chrysanthemum flower heads that paralyzes the insects, then shampoo thoroughly to remove any remaining, stunned/deceased fleas or ticks.
Mats and tangles occur naturally, more so in some breeds with longer, finer hair. Regular (sometimes daily) brushing is required to prevent their build-up. Unfortunately, bathing without removing tangles first results in a snowballing effect whereby the tangles turn to mats and get increasingly larger and tighter over time. Sometimes we can “de-mat” your pet to save the coat, but often the mats are so established they have to be shaved or cut out. De-matting is uncomfortable for your pet and is inherently dangerous because the de-matting process requires the use of razor-sharp tools. A daily brush routine at home can prevent most matts and is recommended.
We do not accept a puppy for grooming before the completion of initial vaccinations (usually about 15-16 weeks old). Initially, we’d suggest the grooming be brief, trimming the hair around the eyes, paws, and sanitary area. The objective is to have the experience be a positive one at the outset so your pet looks forward to each future grooming experience for a lifetime. Be unemotional when you drop him off and give him a lot of praise when you pick him so you don’t telegraph anxiety at the outset and show pleasure at the end of the experience.
We wish we could give such a guarantee but we cannot. Pets are living creatures that may have unknown or undetectable, underlying conditions that can manifest themselves during the course of, or following grooming. Also, pets may move unexpectedly, and of course, grooming tools are of necessity, sharp instruments that can inadvertently cause an injury. We take all necessary measures to prevent injuries however animals are unpredictable and accidents can happen.