The north wind is howling, and the forecast calls for cold and snow. Does this mean it is time to quit grooming your dog for the season?
Many pet parents think their dogs need to keep every bit of their fur during the cold months to stay warm, so they might consider putting down the brush. This is not necessarily true.
In fact, if you neglect grooming your long-hair dog in the winter, his hair can become extremely tangled and matted, which can end up exposing your dog to more moisture. This added moisture can cause skin irritation, and your groomer may have to clip your dog’s coat to a very short length because it got so matted.
If your dog’s fur is naturally thin and requires only minimal grooming, some winter dog apparel might be the best solution.
Let’s take a look at how winter affects our dog-grooming regimen.
It is perfectly fine for your dog to have baths during the chilly winter months. If his coat is clean and conditioned, he might be less prone to matting than if his coat is dirty.
When bathing your dog, use comfortably warm water and choose a mild dog shampoo. Make sure you get the shampoo worked in down to his skin.
In most cases, it is best to wash your pet, rinse him lightly and then wash him a second time. One helpful hint is to use a damp, cellulose kitchen sponge to apply the product to your pet’s coat. You can distribute the shampoo and conditioner more evenly this way.
After rinsing well, apply a dog conditioner to replace the oils you just removed, reduce static and to help make brushing easier. Conditioner also will help combat winter dryness. Store your sponge on the dog shampoo bottle with a rubber band, and you easily will know which one is for the dog and not the dishes!
Dry your pup by patting and squeezing his fur with a towel; rubbing creates tangles. You also can use a hair dryer on the cool or warm setting. Keep your dog indoors where it is cozy until every evidence of moisture is gone.
After the bath, massage a few drops of ear cleaner, like Burt’s Bees dog ear cleaner solution, into each ear canal. This can help clean any wax and debris from your dog’s ear and will help dry up any water that entered the ears during the bathing process.
Another thing to do after your dog’s bath is to brush every bit of his coat, working from skin to the tip of the hair to remove any tangles. A coat spray, such as Skouts Honor probiotic pet deodorizer, contains dog skin moisturizer and is formulated to aid in brushing.
A quality slicker brush, like Safari Soft slicker brush for dogs, is the choice of most professionals for dog grooming. After using a slicker brush, follow-up with a metal comb to find any spots you missed. Then, revisit those areas with your slicker brush to remove any matted hair.
Most dogs should be brushed several times a week to prevent tangles. And don’t be surprised to find your dog shedding in winter, as that is very common. Brushing out that loose coat will help keep mats at bay.
You can ask your breeder or groomer for suggestions on specific dog grooming tools and frequency for brushing your specific dog to keep him in tip-top shape.
Quick Clean Ups
A pet wipe can be terrific for cleaning up surface dirt on paws, private areas or messy beards. If your dog is not ready for a full-on bath, but could use a little freshening up, try Nooties Japanese Cherry Blossom dog shampoo wipes. They contain dog skin moisturizer, so they won’t dry out his skin and coat.
Pay Attention to the Paws
If your dog is walking on streets or sidewalks where de-icing products are used, keep in mind that these products can irritate your pet’s paws and skin. You can minimize the risk by rinsing affected areas with warm water and drying them after each walk.
You also can protect your dog’s paws with dog boots, like Frisco Dog all weather boots. For added protection, use a product like Dr. Tim’s Paw Protector dog wax before heading out into the elements.
Check your dog’s claws often. You might find they seem to grow longer in the winter if your pet is less active.
Use a nail trimmer to shorten his claws. Many groomers and pet parents using a trimming tool, like the Wahl Ultimate pet nail grinder. This type of tool can leave a very smooth edge on the nails.
Grooming your dog in winter may be more important for your pet’s health and well-being than grooming during any other season. Besides, if you and your pet are cooped up together, wouldn’t it be nice to have him looking great and smelling fresh?
Daryl Conner is an award winning photojournalist and Master Pet Stylist who has loved making dogs and cats more beautiful for 30 years.
Featured Image: Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock.com