The frigid winds, freezing rains, snow and ice of winter can wreak havoc on your dog’s coat and skin when you bring him or her outside for daily walks. It’s the most difficult time of year for maintaining your best friend’s good grooming. Fortunately, we’ve got the information you need to care for your pooch’s beautiful coat this winter.
PUT ON A SWEATER
Depending on the length of its coat, it may be appropriate or even necessary for your dog to wear a sweater or windbreaker when you go for walks in winter weather. This helps keep your dog warm and protects its coat and skin from the harsh cold, wind, and rain or snow. If your dog is a Husky or similarly large breed with a thick coat meant for snowy weather, it can probably go without, but many other popular domestic breeds could use the extra protection, especially if they are particularly small or slender with very short hair, like Greyhounds or Chihuahuas. (Source)
DON’T FORGET TO BRING A TOWEL
When you come in from a walk, dry your dog as soon as possible, especially if it's wet outside and your dog is noticeably damp. Dramatically shifting temperatures from the warm indoors to the cold outdoors and then back again can contribute to dry skin or even dermatitis, and a wet coat can exacerbate the problem. You can use a towel or even a hair dryer. On particularly nasty days, you may want to bring a towel with you to help keep your dog dry and clean during the walk itself. (Source)
GIVE FEWER BATHS
If you’re concerned about the unwanted buildup from the weather and the roads during winter walks, you may be inclined to bathe your dog more often than usual during the winter months. But doing so may cause more harm than good. Bathing strips your dog's coat and skin of the natural oils that normally protect it and keep it healthy and moisturized, leading to excessive dryness. Since cold weather dries your dog’s skin out on its own, you’re looking at a double whammy. If anything, you should bathe your dog less often in winter than you do during the rest of the year. (Source)
BRUSH THE COAT
Brushing your dog’s coat keeps it healthy by helping distribute natural skin oils, which make fur shiny and strong. Grooming your dog this way is important to do year-round, but it’s particularly useful during winter, when the harsh weather conditions can have an extra drying effect on skin and fur. It’s also a good idea to brush your dog’s coat before putting on, and after taking off, its sweater. This will help prevent tangles, knots and mats that wearing a sweater can cause.
TRIM THE COAT
It’s important to trim long-haired dogs’ fur during the winter. It may seem counterintuitive at first to make your dog’s coat shorter in colder weather, but the key word here is “trim,” not “cut,” and certainly not “shave.” You don’t want to make the fur significantly shorter; your goal is simply to trim it in strategic areas to prevent buildup of snow, ice, salt and de-icing chemicals that dogs pick up during walks. Pay particular attention to dangling fur around the tummy and legs. (Source)
MAINTAIN FOOT FUR
When grooming your dog’s coat for winter, it’s especially important to trim and maintain the hair around the feet and toes. During walks in snow and ice, hairy feet can contribute to forming ice balls in fur and between the paw pads. Excess fur will also absorb more water from snow, and also more of the salt used to treat snow on city streets and sidewalks. (Source)
RINSE THE FEET
When walking in and on snow, ice or freezing rain, your dog’s paws are going to suffer the worst of the elemental assault. Even if you’ve done a good job trimming and maintaining his or her foot fur, the paws could still collect a certain amount of dirt, snow, ice and even salt or chemicals. Not only can these elements dry, damage or otherwise irritate your dog’s paws, but they are also dangerous if your dog licks its own feet after a walk. Keep a bowl of warm water by the door and, while you're toweling your dog off after a walk, take a moment to rinse off the feet too. (Source)
PROTECT THE PADS
Winter conditions mean a non-stop environmental assault on your dog’s paw pads. They’re strong, but there’s only so much they can take before they start to show the wear and tear of exposure to snow, ice, salt, chemicals and cold. Paw pads can suffer dryness, cracking, frostbite or even chemical burns. To guard against this damage, consider applying a protective balm to your dog’s paws both before and after walks. Some dog owners use plain petroleum jelly, while others opt for products specifically made for canine paw pads. (Source)
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BUY SNOW BOOTIES
If you live in an area with an especially harsh winter climate, or if your dog’s poor paws just tend to suffer in the winter more than most, you can purchase winter dog boots for extra protection. They may look unusual, and your dog may resist donning footwear at first, but there’s no better protection, and you’ll both get used to the boots over time. If you decide to go this route, make sure you buy boots that are the proper size for your dog to enjoy a comfortable fit. Otherwise, you may end up doing more harm to its feet than good. (Source)
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