Giving your dog regular baths and close-cropped hair is a no-brainer in summer — especially those of the longhaired persuasion who look miserable and overheated with long, untamed locks on a 40-degree day. Regular dips in the ocean, frequent walks (nature’s nail clippers) and all that extra holiday time spent with your four-legged friend means grooming comes more naturally.
Fast forward to winter — less of the long walks as you battle the winds and rain to give your pooch his bare minimum exercise requirement, the belief all that extra hair will help keep him warm, and not wanting to get him wet in the winter cold by bathing him.
Dog groomer and owner of Spoilt Rotten Dogs, Mario, says while it’s a common misconception pets need less care in the winter, the opposite is actually true. “Dogs actually need more attention in winter; without grooming, their coats will matt, causing discomfort and skin problems.” And if your pet is a shedder, or a fan of rolling around in the great outdoors, you’re also looking at the prospect of a pretty grotty home (if your dog is a welcome visitor to your bed and couches, things can get even more grubby). So what are Mario’s top five winter grooming tips?
#1: Thou shalt brush and demat their hair often
Make sure to brush your pet’s coat at least once a day to prevent matting or knots. This means getting in there with a slick and good-quality brush that can get right into your dog’s coat. This will help remove sheds and detangle any knots. But don’t brush too hard or in one area only. This can be very uncomfortable for the pet. If need be, make yourself a detangling spray like you would for yourself — grab a pet conditioner and dilute to a 50/50 mix with water in a spray bottle.
Comb the coat after you’ve finished brushing it — this will help ensure you haven’t missed any knots that are in the process of forming. Do this thoroughly and ensure that every area has been combed. For dogs with longer coats, part their hair and comb right down into it till you can see the skin, taking care to be gentle. You can work across in sections to make it easier.
#2: Bathing is still a big must
During winter, it is best to stick to your dog’s regular bath time schedule. It can be once a week, once a month, once every three months or whenever you deem necessary — essentially, don’t skimp on a wash you’d normally do because you fear they’ll be too cold. An indoor tub is obviously ideal; if you don’t have a suitable bath or sink, you can place your usual dog bath in the shower area. Make sure the water is a comfortable temperature — not too hot, too cold.
It’s important to use a high-quality dog shampoo. Never ever use human shampoo because dogs have a different pH level to us. Dogs with sensitive skin should use soap-free or moisturising dog shampoos. Dry the coat well straight after bath time using a hair dryer, with the heat off to avoid injury. Make sure your dog is dry before letting it go off and play. Also make sure to dry your dog when it gets wet from playing outside because body heat is not enough dry its coat.
If you’re drying in front of your heater, keep your dog at a safe distance to prevent burning its skin. If you have a long- or thick-coated pooch, the drying schedule can be time-consuming but it’s extra important to dry them thoroughly. As with the brushing, check in sections, from the root to the tip, to ensure they are dry all the way through.
Want the remaining three tips? Get your paws on a copy of DOGSLife #138 here.