6 Tips for Winter Dog Grooming

20 Jan


Just as winter can be harsh on our own skin, hair, and nails, the same can be true for our pets! In many ways, grooming during the winter months can be more important to the overall health of your dog than at any other time of the year. An improperly groomed dog can make for an infection-susceptible dog. Winter hazards to your dog’s coat and skin include:

  • Cold weather, snow, and ice
  • Dry, forced-air heat indoors
  • Salt and sand on sidewalks
  • Dampness and wind

Grooming isn’t just for keeping your dog pretty and smelling nice, it can also be crucial for your dog’s good health. here are six winter dog grooming tips to help you and your pup combat winter blues while ensuring your dog stays comfortable, dry, and healthy!

Bath Time in Moderation

Between snowy or wet walks, salt and sandy sidewalks, and more time spent indoors, that dirty dog smell can really intensify during the winter months. It’s perfectly fine to bathe your dog in the wintertime, but keep it in moderation, and make sure your dog is completely dry before they go outside. A wet dog is at higher risk for a chill and illness, especially if they’re a smaller breed or have shorter hair.

Try “Dry Cleaning”

If bath time is problematic and you’re looking to reduce trips to the groomer in winter, try a dry bath for your dog! Dry shampoos are available at most pet stores, or you can sprinkle a bit of cornstarch into your dog’s fur and give them a thorough brushing. Make sure all excess powder gets brushed out, and then your dog will be feeling fresh and clean!

Continue Regular Grooming Schedules

While dogs need to keep warm, most of our pets live indoors and spend shorter amounts of time outside; they’re usually snuggled up us in a centrally heated house. House dogs don’t need to rely on long fur and a thick undercoat for warmth as wild animals or sled dogs do, meaning you can keep up their regular grooming schedules in the winter.

If you’re concerned about your dog’s being cold on outings, consider a longer trim. Always make sure your groomer knows the proper way to trim your dog’s coat, especially in cases where you have a breed with a double coat that’s meant to be trimmed a certain way, and never shaved.

Pay Extra Attention to Paws and Noses

As we’ve mentioned before, winter can wreak havoc on your dog’s paws and nose. The change between dry cold outdoor air and forced indoor heat can dry out and crack their skin, not to mention the damage that can be done by salt and sand and snow outside. Regularly check your dog’s paws for cracks or sensitivity, and try using a paw cream to keep the pads from drying out.

During warmer months, your dog’s nails also naturally wear down from regular time outside. In winter, we tend to reduce outdoor activities. Even if you’re diligent about taking your dog for walks in winter, they’re likely shorter, and your dog’s nails won’t wear down as much.

It’s important to keep your dog’s nails trimmed, because if the nails grow long enough for you to hear “click click click” on the floor, your dog’s nails are long enough to make it difficult for them to keep their balance on ice and snow. Dogs can fall on the ice too!

Keep Up with Flea and Heartworm Preventatives

While cold weather brings the end of flea season outdoors, any fleas already in your home can survive and lead to a full blown infestation indoors, even in the coldest months. Winter is no reason to let your flea defenses down, especially so if you live in a milder climate like Topher and I. Keep your dog up to date on their flea and heartworm preventatives to stay parasite free all year round.

Use Sweaters and Coats Only When Necessary

While your dog may be spending more time in their favorite sweater or coat, they shouldn’t be living in it. The continuous rubbing from a coat or sweater can create matting in long-haired dogs, or hair loss in short-haired dogs. Try to keep sweater and coat usage to only when your dog is going outside. If it’s cold enough indoors that your dog needs a sweater, make sure you’re brushing your dog daily to keep any matting from occurring, and watch for any signs of further discomfort.

Regardless of where you live, we hope you keep these winter dog grooming tips handy for a healthy and cozy season with your dog.

Paw Cream Roundup

11 Jan

Paw Cream

Despite an unusually mild start to winter, we’re officially in the thick of it in my corner of the world. With the cold comes snow, and with the snow comes sand and salt. While that sand and salt is great for vehicle traction on the roads, it’s absolutely awful on our dogs’ paws—not to mention my poor floors when it all gets tracked in, daily.

So what are we to do? For the most part, nothing. It’s good to let dogs paws get warn because it naturally helps protect them. But when salt becomes an issue, it can begin really damaging a dog’s paws, and that means we have to gear up to counter the effects of salt.

Alternatively, you could also turn to putting booties on your dog’s paws to avoid the salt altogether, but most dogs aren’t fond of having boots on their feet. If your dog can tolerate them, that’s great! If not, paw creams may be in your future, so let’s have a look at what’s out there.

  1. Musher’s Secret ($20)
  2. Burt’s Bees Paw & Nose Lotion ($22)
  3. Pet Head Oatmeal Natural Paw Butter
  4. Natural Dog Company Paw Soother ($20)
  5. Natural Dog Company Pawtector ($6)

Of course, when choosing a paw cream for dogs, it’s important to note that your dog may inevitably lick the cream off their paws. For this reason, you have to be sure the cream is natural and safe (and you could always make your own!), but also be vigilant that your dog doesn’t become obsessive with cleaning their paws from the cream. If that becomes an issue, you may need to stop using the cream if you cannot prevent licking, or consult your veterinarian.

Roundup: Dental Care Products for Dogs

18 May

A few months ago we asked you: Do Your Brush Your Dog’s Teeth? I’ll be honest, at the time of that posting, neither Lucy or myself gave much thought to brushing Archer or Topher’s teeth. A good chew can go a long way toward maintaining good canine dental care—but, apparently, not quite enough.

Last month, with Archer’s yearly checkup, the vet commented that she saw a little tartar buildup. If the vet thinks it’s worth mentioning, it’s usually something I should keep an eye on. So, off we went to pick up some supplies for brushing dogs teeth. What we ended up finding was a huge variety of products I had never even considered trying! We went for the standard toothpaste + toothbrush, but I’ll be honest… I want to try out all the products listed below, and see which on Archer prefers.

Good dog dental hygiene will be achieved in this house if it means both myself and Archer won’t become frustrated by the process. Sound familiar? Check out these products we’ve rounded up, and do your pup a favour with a commitment to good oral hygiene so that adorable doggy smile will last a lifetime. Oh, and ensure you won’t have to spend an egregious amount of money on teeth cleaning with your vet, or worse: dental surgery.

Hands-On Dental Care Products

If your dog trusts you, and has a generally calm personality, they may take to teeth brushing fairly well. The toothpaste is meant to be ingested, so it’s just a matter of getting it on your dog’s teeth with a gentle scrub of a toothbrush. No rinsing required! It’s also designed to have an appealing taste to dogs, which is a bonus. Teeth brushing shouldn’t be chaotic—if you suddenly realize you look like a crazy person trying to hogtie an animal desperate to escape, then manual teeth brushing probably isn’t for you and your pup.

Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dental Kit, Nylabone (10.99)

This is the kit we purchased when we first started cleaning Archer’s teeth. We liked it because it came with two brushes, and we didn’t know which she would feel more comfortable with so it was nice to have a choice. It also has some great reviews from testers on Amazon, which was a bonus in our selection process.

Petrodex Dog Dental Kit, Petrodex ($12)

Similar to Nylabone’s kit, this one from Petrodex has two types of toothbrushes and a toothpaste included. If you’re committed to getting down and dirty with your dog’s teeth, this is equally as good an option.

CET Poultry Toothpaste, Virbac ($9.99)

Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t a toothpaste for chickens. It’s chicken flavoured. It’s also one of the highest rated toothpastes for dogs available. The only caveat? It doesn’t come with a brush. But that’s an easy fix—most customers seemed to like to pair this toothpaste with the Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dog Finger Brush ($5).

8 in 1 D.D.S. Dental Wipes, Excel ($9.99)

These are probably as minimally invasive as it comes with dog dental hygiene. Hold the wipe (it’s like a thick wetnap) in your hand, however you feel comfortably to get it around your dog’s teeth (typically, wrapped around your index finger) and that’s it! The only worry with this product is that it can become a choking hazard. Be careful not to let your dog take it away (some dogs really, really like the taste!) to chew or swallow, and always keep a firm grip on the wipe when you work on your dog’s teeth.

Burt’s Bees for Dogs Multicare Dental Gel, Burt’s Bees ($22)

Wait, maybe this is the least invasive. If you’re a fan of Burt’s Bees products (we are—Lucy loves their dog shampoo for Topher!), you should absolutely give this one a shot. It’s a gel that you simply apply to your dog’s teeth and gums, and that’s it! I mean, I guess you could rub it in if you wanted, but it’s not necessary. Let the product do the work!

Tropiclean Fresh Breath Plaque Remover Pet Clean Teeth Gel, Tropiclean ($17)

Like Burt’s Bees’ Dental Gel, this product from Tropiclean is all-natural and reduces plaque and tartar buildup without the hassle of brushing. Simply apply the gel to your dog’s teeth and gums, and you’re done! You can use your finger, or a brush to get a more thorough application (and hey, they have a kit for that!), but it’s not necessary.

Hands-Free Dental Care Products

Not keen on wrestling with your dog to try and brush his teeth effectively? Well, don’t worry! You have options.

Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Liquid Tartar Remover, Nylabone ($13.99)

Combine 1 tbsp of the solution to your dog’s water (32 oz.) and mix! This had some great reviews, but a word of caution to change their water regularly. If the water sits for more than a day, it will develop a film on top as the liquid separates from the water. See if your dog likes it, but also offer an alternative water source. This makes their water a little minty (most dogs love it!), and after about a month or so, should show great results. If your dog has a lot of tartar or stinky breath, it’s worth a try.

Proden PlaqueOff Dental Care For Dogs and Cats, Proden ($22)

This one is… interesting. It’s 100% dried seaweed meal, and it gets added to your dog’s food, rather than hidden in the water. The bonuses? It’s 100% natural, made in the USA (er… the seaweed is harvested north of Scandinavia, but packaged in the USA), and it has amazing reviews. The company suggests waiting 3–8 weeks to really see results.

Something I’ve noticed on most of these products—they’ve been very careful with their packaging to boast a “Made in USA” mark. Which, honestly, does provide a great deal of relief to see a product made in the USA rather than China.

Dog Grooming with Horse Grooming Supplies

5 May

Grooming for shorthaired dogs can sometimes be a bit of a guessing game. How much attention does their coat need? What brushes work best with a shorthaired dog? Prior to Archer, my family had always had dogs with longer fur that required what you’d expect with dog grooming. Having a shorthaired dog, things changed.

Brushes designed to battle with a tricky double-coat weren’t suitable for the thin layer of fur of a Great Dane. I tried some other products that were supposed to be great for shorthaired dogs, then began to wonder if grooming was even necessary on a dog with such short fur (it is!). And then, by chance my mother ended up in a Greenhawk store and decided that, if Archer was always going to be playfully compared to a horse, maybe horse grooming brushes would be suitable.

She was right, naturally. And oh, how Archer loves getting a brush-down with these brushes!

The Curry Comb

A mainstay in horse grooming, curry combs are made of rubber with short “teeth” and are meant to be used as the first tool in a grooming session. On horses, curry combs are often used in a circular motion to work loose, embedded material while also stimulating the skin to produce natural oils.

Similarly, the curry comb can be used on dogs in the same fashion, but with smaller circular motions or a comfortable front-to-back stroke, depending on your dog’s comfort level. Curry combs are gentle on your dog’s fur, act as a gentle massage, and are designed to catch loose fur while not pulling.

Conair PROdogs Pet-It Curry Comb for Dogs ($7)

FURminator Curry Comb ($8)

Kong ZoomGroom ($10)

Now, I’ve seen these curry comb style of brushes available for dogs (above), but I haven’t seen it in the variety of styles they offer for horses. Am I telling you to go check out your nearest horse supply store? No, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a look!

What I really like about the two brushes I purchased (which were designed for use on horses), is their ergonomic design. They look like chubby little hands because they’re designed to fit snugly in your hand, and nestle in the crooks of your fingers. I also like that we have two types—one with large, sparse teeth, and another with more numerous, smaller teeth. It gives us a great one-two punch for a good grooming session with Archer.

The Dandy Brush

The dandy brush is used to remove dirt, hair, and other materials stirred up by the curry comb. Brushes are used in the direction of the horse’s (er.. or dog’s!) fur growth in short strokes, front-to-back. It’s a nice finishing brush to pull away any unwanted fur and dander, while also leaving them with a smooth, sleeky coat.

Tough 1 Great Grip Finishing Brush ($8)

Bentley Slip-Not Pro Dandy Brush ($12)

Borstiq Banana Finishing Brush ($20)

It was more difficult finding suitable dandy brushes for dogs for the simple fact that your dog won’t require the same stiffness in bristles as a horse would. For a good dandy brush to use on your pup, look for one with softer bristles and be sure to use a light touch to simply smooth away any excess fur or dander on the surface of the coat. The curry comb is meant to loosen, while the dandy brush is a finishing brush.

There are so many things to think about when it comes to grooming dogs. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface! What do you use for grooming your pup? Let us know in the comments below!