Wintertime offers a new set of challenges for keeping your four-legged friend healthy and clean.
Few seasons of the year can be more fun than wintertime for a pet owner. Any dog owner knows how much their pet loves to play in freshly packed snow. But keeping your dog clean during this time of year can be a real challenge. Here are a few tips for keeping your best friend healthy and looking his best.
Protect his paws.
During the winter, de-icing products such as sand and salt can be found all over. These can irritate his feet and cause his paws to dry out and crack. Be sure to wash his paws off with warm water to remove this residue after going outside. If he will not wear booties, try rubbing petroleum jelly on the pads of his paws. This will help protect his paws from frostbite and irritants. Also, trim the hair from around and between his toes. If this grows too long, it can become matted and collect snow and ice, causing irritation.
Winter is often the worst season when it comes to your dog’s skin. Just like with people, the cold air will cause his skin to dry out and make him itch. Help prevent this by bathing your dog regularly. Try using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and be sure to only use products made specifically for dogs. Never use your own products as they can actually dry out your pet’s skin even more. Also, frequent brushing stimulates his skin to produce oils that may keep him more comfortable.
Clip his nails more frequently.
It often seems that your pet’s nails grow faster during winter than the rest of the year. This is because when your pet gets less exercise, he won't wear down his nails as quickly. You will have to clip them more frequently as a result. If you are uncertain on how to trim your dog's nails, ask your veternarian or check out our article.
Keep to a regular trimming schedule, even in the winter.
If your dog is a breed that requires regular trimming during the year, keep to that schedule. Owners may be tempted to let their pet’s fur “grow out” for the winter, but long hair can cause matting in his coat, often leading to skin problems. If you are going to allow your pet’s coat to grow out, it must be brushed more frequently, daily even. If you’re afraid that your dog will be cold, a sweater or fleece is a better option than a matted coat.
A sweater or fleece need not be just a fashion accessory. Wrapping your dog up can really keep him warm during the cold winter months. This is especially true for smaller dogs or dogs bred for warmer climates. A sweater or coat will protect him from the ice and snow the same way it will you. Boots are a great way to protect his paws from frostbite as well as deicing salt, if your pet will wear them.