Winter Grooming Guidelines

shutterstock_66130195Each season has its own set of hazards for your dog’s coat and skin. Winter’s pitfalls include cold temperatures, wind, dry forced-air heat, and salt and sand used on streets and sidewalks where snow and ice are common. To combat potential cold-weather problems your pup may encounter, follow our simple winter grooming guidelines.

Bath time…
Sure, it’s cooler out, which may mean less stink, but that doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t need a bath. In fact, some dogs need more grooming than in warmer months. Walking through the snow and mud is messy, plus long, fluffier winter coats tend to get mats. Use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that is gentle on Muffy’s skin, and make sure to allow her fur to dry completely before she heads outdoors. Prolonged exposure to cold temps can result in sickness and even hypothermia—both are more likely when your dog is wet.

Haircut…
Assuming your dog spends most of his time indoors, it is okay to keep his hair trimmed in the winter months. House dogs don’t rely on their fur and undercoat for warmth the way wild animals or even sled dogs do, but if you opt to chop, consider a doggie sweater for coldest days.

Brushing…
Your dog’s coat may become thicker in the winter, and while it may look positively plush, it means more work for pet parents. Brush daily to remove tangles, dirt, and dead hair. This will also increase circulation and distribute oil, which will help to keep dry winter skin hydrated. As you brush, always be alert for potential problems hidden under his longer coat, such as lumps or sores.

Protect their paws…
Snow, ice, salt, rain, and low temperatures can lead to cracked pads, irritation, and infection.
A simple solution: Leave a towel by the door and make wiping paws upon returning home part of your walking routine. Be sure to keep hair between pads trimmed, as this helps cut down on the buildup of snow and ice.
Remember that more time spent indoors, plus snow- and ice-covered sidewalks, means your dog’s nails won’t get worn down the way they normally so. It’s time to cut when you hear click, click, click on the floor as Fido passes by. Long nails make it more difficult for dogs to keep their balance—with ice-slick streets all around, you will want to keep his nails trimmed.

(via Cesar’s Way magazine)

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