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6 Grooming Tips To Keep Your Dog Healthy During The Cold, Wet Months

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In the winter and spring months, it can be easy to figure there is no point in grooming your dog.

You may think: they are inside all the time and therefore “stay clean,” or they just go right back outside and immediately become a mud puppy again.

Image source @TeresaAlexander-Arab via Flickr
Image source @TeresaAlexander-Arab via Flickr

“There’s a common misconception that dogs don’t need to be groomed, or only groomed minimally, over the winter months,” Alyssa Hill, DogTown Groomer, Best Friends Animal Society told iHeartDogs. “The incorrect belief is that a dog’s winter coat comes in and should be allowed to grow long to protect and warm the dog. In addition, because dogs, like humans, often follow a more sedentary and inside routine in the winter, many people feel that their dogs aren’t getting dirty enough to warrant bathing.”

But Hill says none of this is true. In fact, grooming during these months might even be more important than other times of the year.

“In fact, in many ways, grooming over the winter months becomes even more important to the health of your dog than at any other time of the year. Long, wet, matted hair easily makes a cold, wet, and infection-susceptible dog.”

Long coats – a blessing and a curse

Many think that dogs with long coats “winterize” themselves and can be left alone through the cold, wet season. But Hill says that while these coats are a “blessing” in terms of warmth versus a short-haired dog’s coat, they can also be a curse:

“The ‘blessing’ of these thick coats in winter can turn quickly into an issue if the fur isn’t maintained in a healthy condition. Fur that’s matted doesn’t insulate or provide warmth; instead, it provides discomfort, pain, and hot spots. Matting can even lead to infections below the skin, so when considering the effects of letting the grooming go, consider how your dog’s health may in fact suffer as a result. Grooming isn’t just for a beautiful dog it’s also crucial for your dog’s good health.”

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So what kind of grooming should you be doing right now to keep your dog healthy? Hill provided us with the following excellent tips:

“Following these winter grooming tips and techniques will help keep your dog in tip -top condition health and coat wise,” she advises. “Regular grooming, regardless of the season, is important to the overall health and well-being of all dogs.”

#1 – Protecting Dog Paws From Winter Weather

You can minimize problems such as cracked pads, irritation, infections from snow, salt, mud, rain, low temperatures, and gravel simply by wiping the feet dry after every outing. Keep a towel handy by the door, and make feet wiping routine.

Be especially watchful for snow or mud balls between the pads.

Image source: @TracyDonald via Flickr
Image source: @TracyDonald via Flickr

#2 – Winter Bath Time

Dogs sometimes need more grooming in the winter. Longer, fluffier coats tend to mat, and walks through mud and snow are messy. If your dog is indoors to keep warm, you may be especially eager to bathe him to keep “doggie” odor to a minimum, but that is a personal preference.

The dog must be 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 a drop in body temperature, or hypothermia, and it is most likely to occur when a dog is wet. If you normally allow your dog to air dry, consider blow drying to speed the process, if your dog allows you to do it.

Image source: @Evanp.cordes via Flickr
Image source: @Evanp.cordes via Flickr

#3 – Winter Haircut

Some owners believe that giving a dog a haircut during cold weather compromises the dog because it needs its coat to keep warm. While this is true, it’s also true that most pets don’t live outdoors all the time (nor should they!); they’re usually snuggled up with an owner in a centrally heated house. House dogs don’t need to rely on long fur and a thick undercoat for warmth, as wild animals do.

It is all right to give your dog a haircut in winter. If you’re concerned about your dog’s being cold on outings, consider a longer trim or a doggie sweater.

Image source: @Patti via Flickr
Image source: @Patti via Flickr

#4 – Moisturizing Baths!

Bathing your dog regularly is one of the most important things you can do for your dog in the winter, as a clean dog is a happy, healthy dog.

During the cold winter months, many of us suffer with dry, chafed, and scaly skin due to the combination of cold air, wind, and interior dry air from our forced-air heaters. Even though they’re covered with a layer of fur, our dogs also feel the drying effects of winter, so it’s even more important to use a non-drying, highly moisturizing, gentle shampoo and conditioner. The dry heat found in many homes throughout the winter season can be tough on our skin and hair, so apply dog-friendly lotions and conditioners to ease the scratchiness and irritation.

Image source: @TonyAlter via Flickr
Image source: @TonyAlter via Flickr

#5 -Brushing

For untrimmed dogs, an extra-thick winter coat needs regular brushing. Keep your dog’s coat in top condition by brushing daily to remove tangles, dirt and dead hair, and to increase skin circulation and distribute oil.

A dog’s winter coat can hide trouble, such as lumps, bumps or sores, which is another good reason to keep brushing regularly. As you brush, feel and look carefully for signs of illness. Call your veterinarian if you see anything suspect.

Image source: @AnnilinaRutanen via Fickr
Image source: @AnnilinaRutanen via Fickr

#6 – Nail Trimming

Since no one really enjoys being outside in the cold for walks or play time, your dog’s nails will most likely need to be trimmed more regularly since they aren’t outside running and romping to wear them down. Check weekly, and once you hear that “click-click” on the bare floor, you’ll know it’s time to trim

Image source: @IntangibleArts via Flickr
Image source: @IntangibleArts via Flickr

These tips will help keep your dog beautiful and healthy, no matter what the season!

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Written by Kristina Lotz

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