We’ve entered the long stretch of winter. For some, this is the time of year to mimic the bears and chipmunks and hibernate until spring. Other folk love adventuring in these icy months! For the most part, though, it feels as if we’re all waiting for the spring thaw. But don’t let your dog’s grooming fall to the wayside during these next couple of months! Whether you’re outside hiking or inside relaxing, the pup at your side needs you to help maintain his coat now more than ever. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your best friend winter-ready from nose to tail!
Short-haired dogs aren’t very fond of the cold, and you can’t really blame them: what they’re born with is a lot like wearing a denim jacket in a snowstorm. There is lots of outerwear available on the market for dogs of all sizes to keep them warm on their excursions. And what about that flaky skin? Short-haired dogs seem to have more dandruff during the winter months, and that’s because the dry heat of your home or apartment really dries out their skin. Try adding some fish oil (20 mg per pound) or coconut oil (one teaspoon per ten pounds) to their food to help keep their skin healthy and hydrated.
Meanwhile, longhaired dogs seem to relish this weather. Breeds with thick, dense coats always seem to feel great in the chilled air! However, consider their fur as more like a thick leather trench coat: though it’s extremely insulating, it still needs to be properly cared for. Thick coats like these can mat easily – especially in breeds that get winter and summer coats likes huskies and malamutes – and matted fur is more of a hindrance than a help, making your pup’s skin itchy and sore. Make certain to keep dogs with thick coats looking and feeling their best with regular brushing (you may even find you need to brush more during the winter than other seasons).
Don’t forget those paws! If you see your pooch limping during his walk down the street, the culprit may be road salt, which can burn your dog’s sensitive paw pads. Try to stick to a dog-safe ice melt on your walkways, like Safe Paw or Paw Thaw. If you venture out into the street, wipe those paws off on a towel the moment you come home, or maybe even have a bowl of warm water ready for a quick foot bath. You can also protect them with a special paw wax (which you can purchase – look for a product called “Musher’s Secret” – or make yourself).
And what if you do bathe and/or groom your dog during the winter months? Be certain to use or request a soap that is gentle and soothing, such as a nice oatmeal and/or tea tree shampoo. If Fido is accustomed to being groomed every eight weeks, don’t stop on account of Old Man Winter! Your groomer will decide what length is best for your pup during these winter months. Naturally, just as you would for yourself, make certain your canine companion is nice and dry before they go outside: they can get hypothermia just as easily as we can.
Skin and coat are one of the most visible reflections of your dog’s health. A well cared for pooch just looks good. But that doesn’t mean that these things take care of themselves! This winter, you may choose to stay inside with good books and cups of hot cocoa. Or perhaps you will button up and go enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors while nature sleeps. Either way, your faithful pup will happily stay by your side, romping in the snow or snuggling up for warmth. All they ask is good food, water, and a little grooming from you. Good deal, don’t you think?