Our winters are usually very mild here in the south and that causes some southern dog owners to become less diligent about caring for their dog’s coat. Ticks, fleas and other parasites that pester our dogs in the spring and summer long gone and the dogs are either inside or at least less active and therefore less dirty during the winter, so a more laid back approach to doggie hygiene is usually observed. However, a dirty, compact coat offers little protection from cold weather and snowballs hang out in the overgrown hair on dog’s feet, so due diligence for dog grooming during the winter is essential regardless of what part of the country we may live in. Keep your dog’s coat in top shape during cold weather with these winter grooming tips.
Best Paw Forward
I rarely have to trim paw pad hair on my smooth coated Jack Russell Terriers , but for long haired dogs like Golden Retrievers , this should be part of the grooming process year around. The long paw pad hair attracts whatever the dog is walking on, and in certain parts of the country during winter that attraction will be for ice and snowballs.
Invest in a pair of small hand clippers from your local pet supply store and keep paw pad hair trimmed year around. To trim paw pad hair, bend the paw back with one hand to expose and spread the paw. Then use a scooping motion with the trimmer to trim away excess hair.
Might as well trim the nails while you’re at it so your dog will have better traction on slick, icy surfaces. A Dremel makes safe and quick work of doggie pedicures.
Products used to melt snow and ice in northern climates get imbedded in your dog’s coat every time he goes outdoors. Regular bath time is essential to keep these harsh chemicals from irritating your dog’s skin and causing an allergic reaction. Regular bathing will also keep these chemicals out of your home, since whatever is in your dog’s coat is being brought inside your home too. The only bath time variations for winter is too dry the dog’s coat all the way down to the skin after bathing.
Wipe and Dry
Keep a stack of old towels (kitchen hand towels work best for me) to thoroughly dry your dog’s coat after a walk in the rain or snow. Your dog will appreciate the mini massage to help him get warm and dry. Wipe the dog down, starting at his ears and saving those muddy or dirty paws for last, then toss the dirty towel in the washer. For small dogs like mine, I keep a container of baby wipes near the door to clean ears, face and wipe off dirty paws.
The air between a dog’s hair is called ‘loft’ and the loft is your dog’s insulation from extreme weather elements. The best way to maintain that loft and give your dog needed protection from the elements is to keep his hair clean and well brushed. Brush often and remove mats or tangles in dog’s fur before they become a problem.