It is a common misconception that dogs need less grooming in the winter months than in the heat of summer. Another incorrect idea is that the winter coat should be allowed to grow long as it will keep the dog warm. The truth about your dog and his winter coat is that you should take care of it much the same as you would the summer coat, if not more. Long hair, which is wet and matted means that you have a pet who is susceptible to infections and infestations.
As the weather becomes wetter and muddier, you will find that your dog’s fur collects dirt and debris, and then becomes knotted. Long hair will knot up in no time, and winter grooming is essential to keep your dog healthy.
A general rule of thumb is that the thicker the coat, the more likely it will become matted, knotted and harbour fleas. It is important that you use a comb as well as a brush to get right down to the skin.
While double-coated breeds and long haired dogs have a certain amount of protection in winter, fur that is matted does not insulate or provide warmth. It does, however, aggravate the skin, cause pain and discomfort for your pet.
Brush regularly You should set aside time to groom your dog at least once a day in the winter months. The more you brush the better job you will do, and your pet will become used to a daily session with you and the brushes. It will also give you the opportunity to check for any skin irritations and ticks which may have attached themselves. Ideally, you should set time aside after your walk for a good brush.
Use the correct brush Shorter coats will need a rubber brush as well as a bristle brush, while longer coats will benefit from a slicker brush at first. After you have used this, you should then move on to a bristle brush.
Remember tail and paws Be gentle between the toes as many dogs are sensitive there. Remember that pulling on your dog’s tail is just as unpleasant as having a ponytail yanked!
Shampoo less frequently This is not to say that your dog does not need a bath, because he does. He just does not need it as often as in the summer months. Watch out for dandruff which may cause skin to become irritated, and use a shampoo which is designed for sensitive skin. Because the air is dryer, there is a greater chance of itchy, flaky skin which, if left unbrushed, can become a mess of tangles.
Rub down regularly Any time your dog gets wet, be sure to rub him down and dry him off completely. Your dog is just as susceptible to colds as you are, and staying wet or damp for extended periods of time may harm him.
Watch for matting This is the arch enemy of your dog’s coat! Matting prevents the natural oils from conditioning and stimulating the skin and the coat. This in turn, leads to dry skin which may develop into infected areas. Matting also has a tendency to hold moisture against the skin, and this is a breeding ground for bacteria and infections.
If matting is getting out of control and you just cannot remove it, the answer may be to have your dog’s coat trimmed. In this case, you will need to invest in a cute little winter coat when you take the pooch for a walk!