During winter, pet owners will sometimes neglect the regular grooming schedule used during warmer months. Regular grooming isn’t always top-of-mind when it’s cold outside, it gets dark earlier and when pets tend to spend more time indoors. But it’s just as important to groom your pets during the winter months as it is the rest of the year.
Skin & Coat Care
Winter weather can be harsh on your pets, especially on their skin and coat. Dry air which is common during winter can dry out your pet’s skin. Dry, itchy skin leads to scratching which in turn can lead to hot spots or infections. It’s important to continue to bathe your pet on a regular basis, and the quality and type of the shampoo you choose is critical. Some shampoos can remove too many of the essential oils in your pet’s skin which contributes to dry skin problems. Consider using a shampoo that contains oatmeal or other moisturizers. Make sure your dog is completely dry before going outside, because a wet dog is more likely to become chilled. This is especially true of small breeds or those with short hair. Prolonged exposure to cold results in hypothermia, and it is most likely to occur when a dog is wet.
Some owners believe giving a dog a haircut during cold weather compromises the dog because it needs its coat to keep warm. While dogs need to keep warm, it’s also true most pets don’t live outdoors all the time. House dogs don’t need to rely on long fur and a thick undercoat for warmth as wild animals or sled dogs do. It’s absolutely okay to give your dog a haircut in winter. If you’re concerned about your dog’s being cold outside, consider a longer trim or a doggie sweater.
It’s important to maintain regular brushing during the winter months. Keeping your pet’s coat free of tangles and loose hair will keep it healthy and able to properly insulate your pet.
Often neglected in colder months, nail trimming is an important part of your pet’s health and well being. In some areas dogs, tend to spend less time on abrasive surfaces like sidewalks. Therefore they do not experience the wear and tear on their nails like they do in warmer weather which leads to longer nail growth. Be sure to trim your pet’s nails on a regular basis throughout winter.
Your dog’s paws are designed to protect their feet, especially in the elements of winter. But, ice and snow can damage the pads on your dog’s paws. So can sand, ice melt and other de-icing chemicals. Under these conditions paw pads can become hard, cracked and even infected. You can protect your pet’s paws and pads by using a protectant like Musher’s Secret or pad wax. For dry or cracked pads use a moisturizing lubricant such as Bag Balm and for maximum protection consider using dog boots.
Regular grooming is essential care for the long term health of your pet. It’s just as important to groom your dog during the cold winter months as it is in the heat of summer.