Winter Grooming Tips
By Shelley Williams
Cold rains and frigid winds, along with winter’s snow and ice can wreak havoc on your dog’s skin and coat when you take him for his daily walks. It’s the most difficult time of year for maintaining your best friend’s grooming routine. What’s the best way to protect your dog’s coat and paws from cold weather damage and avoid those springtime shave downs? Consider these grooming recommendations.
Brush your dog’s coat often
Brushing your dog daily or even weekly can significantly reduce the amount of shedding and matting in his coat. Excess hair can cause mats and eventually, the mats become so close to the skin that it can become painful or even dangerous to remove them. Keeping the coat in a breathable condition allows it to insulate your dog as it’s supposed to. Regular brushing also helps distribute the natural oils in your dog’s coat, which helps relieve the dryness that results from winter weather. The last thing you want to do is let a winter coat get so matted that the dog must be shaved down in the middle of winter.
Use a pet sweater only when necessary
Another contributing factor to mats is the use of pet sweaters in the winter months. I cannot stress enough the importance of brushing your pet each and every time the sweater is taken off. Remember that coats and sweaters continually rub against your dog’s coat, causing friction that will lead to large mats. This is the main reason for springtime shave downs. Oftentimes, when the mats are shaved off, they are in the shape of a pet sweater. Doggy coats should only be used when the pet goes outside. If a sweater is needed for indoors, the pet should be brushed daily.
Maintain your dog’s paws and nails
You should pay special attention to your dog’s paws and nails. Ice and salted sidewalks can be extremely irritating to paw pads and can lead to cracking or sores. Be sure to clip any long hair on the bottom of the paws. This is to prevent any snow or ice from sticking to the hairs and forming painful snow balls. After walks, it is a good idea to rinse your dog’s feet with warm water to remove any ice, salt, or gravel. It is also especially important to keep toenails short. Cold toenails break more easily when running through snow and ice. Dog booties are also an option – if you can get your dog to leave them on.
Remember, even though he may not get outside as much in the winter, grooming your dog in the cold months is just as important as in the warmer ones.
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