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.