Some dog owners incorrectly assume that it’s okay to avoid all pet grooming during the winter months due to cooler temperatures.  However, regular grooming is essential to your dog’s health and comfort and should continue even when temperatures drop.  Following are five tips to proper winter grooming for your dog:

  1. Protect your dog’s paws. The snow, salt, mud, rain and low temperatures during the winter can cause numerous problems for your dog’s delicate paws, including irritated, cracked and infected pads.  One simple solution is to clean your dog’s paws whenever they come indoors, using a clean, dry towel to wipe their feet thoroughly.  Watch for snow, ice or mud stuck in between toes.  Another solution is to get cloth or rubber booties for your dog to wear outside.  Be aware that while some dogs will tolerate booties, others will refuse to walk in them and may chew them off.
  2. Give your dog a bath in the early part of the day. Longer, fluffier winter coats require more, not less, frequent bathing and pet grooming to prevent mats and messes.  A clean coat also smells better than a dirty one.  It’s just vitally important to ensure your dog does not go out into cold weather while still wet, as this can lead to possible illness, including hypothermia.  You may consider using a hair dryer to help accelerate the drying process.
  3. Brush your dog’s coat regularly. Your dog’s extra-thick winter coat needs regular brushing in order to remove tangles, dirt, and dead hair, as well as to increase your dog’s skin circulation and distribute healthy skin oils.  Running a brush through your dog’s hair can also help you to spot potential trouble, such as bumps or sores.  If you feel that your dog’s coat is just too long and thick to manage, consider getting it trimmed.
  4. Keep your dog’s nails trimmed. A dog’s nails should be regularly trimmed, as long nails can actually become a painful problem.  During the winter months, when your dog likely spends more time indoors, their nails need even more regular trimming–about once a week.
  5. Maintain good flea control. We all wait for winter with bated breath–eager to celebrate the end of flea season.  However, the truth is that fleas can actually continue to live on for quite some time if they have a warm pet bed to live in.  For this reason, your dog’s flea-control regimen should be continued all year round–even into the winter months.