Happy New Year all! I am re running these posts from last year regarding Winter readiness for our pets. For those of us in the Midwest, the scene replays itself every winter, although this year it took it’s time getting here! Read on to get tips for Winter Readiness Midwest
Should I clip/bathe my dog?
Should I put a coat on my dog?
Should I put boots on my dog?
How long should my dog stay out?
All common questions we hear as pet owners prepare for Winter in the Midwest.
The next several blog posts will attempt to answer those questions.
Clipping dogs when it’s cold depends on several things; breed, age, comfort,time spent outdoors and most importantly the owners commitment to home maintenance. We are talking about pet dogs with fur that grows continually and normally get clipped during milder weather; setters,spaniels, shih tzu, lhasa apso, poodle etc. and any mixes containing those breeds. We are not including working, hunting or show dogs in this discussion.
A long or,heavy coated dog, not maintained is worse off than a clipped one in my opinion. Think of a spaniel with long wavy thick fur. Well maintained, this coat could be a great asset during the winter months since the spaniels typically love the snow. Keep in mind that all of that fur will be a magnet for ice & snow and may need to be dried and brushed each time the dog comes in. Can this get tedious & time consuming? Yes! Especially if this winter is anything like last year and it looks to be on that track! Inside the house, that same long thick fur can be so insulating that the dog becomes too warm and will seek cool places to lay. (My own dog, a serious “lap dog”, will not seek out a lap if he’s to warm, instead will lay by the back door) If the coat is allowed to grow and is not maintained, it could become matted and snarled,poor protection against the elements and uncomfortable for the dog. Matting is something to avoid at all costs as the only remedy is to shave everything down. Not a great option for winter time no matter what the breed! For those that insist on a full coated dog in the winter, “no clipping” does not mean “no grooming”. The longer and thicker the fur the more often brushing is required, in some cases, daily. Several of our clients do this and are committed to the daily grooming and the time it requires. A shorter, easy to maintain coat is a better option if your dog is not great with brushing, if you can’t commit the time, or the dog is uncomfortable. If timed correctly , the dog can have it’s longest fur in the coldest months, December, January & February, just long enough to get to Spring when the day lengthens and seasonal changes in the coat (Shedding!) begin. “Shorter” in this case means somewhere between a full coat and a summer cut on the body and short easy to maintain feet, legs, ears and tail. Bathing is often avoided during the cold but it too has a place in a dogs regular grooming and hygiene schedule. A good deep cleaning and brushing prior to the coldest of days is important for all breeds, especially the double coated ones! Undercoat has to be maintained to do it’s job as an insulator. Fur is not just window dressing, but along with the skin is a super important organ system. Dry warm air inside and a lack of physical activity can create not so cuddly fur in a short time! Plus,bathing provides a great opportunity to inspect the dog, head to toe.
A practical suggestion for a dog with a ” winter cut” is to purchase a coat, not for looks but for comfort. A good fitting, breathable, waterproof , wool, or quilted coat or a sweater will be welcomed and most dogs get used to one quickly.
As mentioned recently in our featured products, Omega 3 fatty acids are the rock star for skin and coat health especially during harsh winter months. Every dog can benefit from this “healthy fat”.
Next stop “should I put a coat/boots on my dog”?