No matter what time of year it is, all dogs need grooming. Even though it’s cold outside, you shouldn’t forget to take care of yourself.
Here are six grooming tips to help keep your dog healthy, warm, and comfortable this winter.
1. Paw Care is a Must
If you and your dog go outside at all during the winter, your dog’s paws will need extra care when the temperature drops below freezing.
First, you need to keep the salt, sand, and ice melt from getting into her paws. A set of dog booties is the easiest way to protect your dog, but not all dogs like to wear them.
If your dog is going outside with bare paws, wash them every time you come in with warm water. Salt and sand can get in between the toes and make the skin red and itchy. Also, keep the hair on your dog’s paws trimmed so that snow, ice, salt, and sand don’t stick to it and cause knots or irritate her paw pads.
2. Trim Nails More Often
Have you ever noticed that your nails are weaker and more likely to break in the winter? Your dog is the same way. When it’s cold and snowy, and there’s not much moisture in the air, nails get brittle. And nails break when they are weak. Broken nails can make your dog bleed, but even if there isn’t any blood, they can still hurt.
The best way to keep your dog’s nails from breaking in the winter is to keep them short. You might find that you have to cut them more often. In the winter, dogs tend to be less active, so their nails don’t wear down as much on their own. So, it seems like they grow faster.
Paxton says it’s important to keep up with this growth. “If their nails get too long, it can change the shape of their feet, make it hard for them to walk, and even lead to arthritis. Nails can also curl into the pads of the paws and cut them, which can lead to an infection.
3. Make sure your dog’s fur is long
In the winter, it’s important to find the right balance for your dog’s coat. Trimming your dog’s fur is important for keeping it healthy, but you don’t want to cut it too short.
All that fur keeps long-haired dogs warm. Your Poodle might look good with a summer cut, but if she’s not wearing a sweater, it won’t keep her warm in the middle of winter.
Paxton says that you should never shave a dog with two or more coats, like a Husky, a Malamute, or a Pomeranian. Their outer coats help them control how warm or cool they are. Their inner coats keep them warm.
4. Don’t skimp on brushing, though
Just because your dog has a long coat doesn’t mean you don’t have to brush it. It’s just as important to brush your teeth every day in the winter as it is in the summer. Paxton says that you should groom your dog more often in the winter if anything. You can be sure that your dog’s hair will get tangled and matted if you leave behind shed fur.
“I would recommend getting long-haired dogs groomed more often to keep their coats in good shape,” says Paxton. “Mats stop air from moving, so moisture can get stuck there and grow bacteria.”
If your dog likes to roll around in the snow and ice, you should also brush it. After playing in the snow, a good brushing helps get any dirt out. And it stops mats from growing.
5. Use a Conditioner
In the winter, dry air is a killer because it takes moisture from everywhere it can, including your dog’s skin and fur. And that can cause dandruff, irritated, itchy skin, and fur that doesn’t keep your dog as warm as it should.
“Because it’s so dry in the winter, a lot of dogs have skin problems,” says Paxton. “Taking a bath every day will help get rid of anything that bothers you. Great if you’ve always used conditioner when you take a bath. If not, winter is a great time to start bathing your dog with an extra-moisturizing conditioner.
There are also conditioners that you leave in your hair, which moisturize even more deeply. Paxton says that dogs with short fur, like Pitbulls and English Bulldogs, are more likely to have dry skin. Static shocks in the winter aren’t as bad when your fur is in good shape.
6. Pay attention to your dog’s nose
Even though a dog’s nose isn’t usually part of most grooming routines, it needs extra care in the winter. All that dry air is ruining your dog’s skin and nails, right? It’s making her nose look the same. Your dog will be uncomfortable with a dry, cracked nose, and it could even affect her ability to smell.
Read More: Grooming Tips for Your Pet During the Winter