How to Groom Your Dog in the Winter
By: Dr. Amanda Landis-Hanna
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As many of you are aware, northern Virginia (where Voyce Pro has headquarters) was hit hard by the winter storm last week. Our offices were closed for many days as we all tried to shovel out! Sophie loved it mostly, but she hated getting ice stuck in her paws. That brings up a question: How do you groom in the winter?
Dogs have a variety of coat types, often variable by breeds. Some have short, fine hair, while others are double coated. So how do you make them comfortable for the winter and/or snow?
First do a bit of research. You can review your dog’s breed in the Voyce Library, to find information and helpful hints. There you can find notes about her coat.
In general, dogs do not need to be shaved down or clipped short in the winter, though they should still be groomed and bathed regularly. If your dog has furry feet, you may want to trim the fur, but not remove it entirely. A small covering of fur will protect the feet, but long hair on the feet may collect ice balls.
Also pay special attention to the feet when leaving and entering the house. Dogs are at risk for frostbite; if the conditions are very cold or windy, consider dog booties. These can help provide insulation against frostbite, as well as provide additional traction.
When you bring your pet in from a walk, ALWAYS wipe down her feet. Ice melt, sand, and salt may get stuck in her toes and irritate them. This irritation may cause her to lick her feet, which may lead to an abrasion or infection. Also wipe down any wet areas, such as her belly and face, to help her remain warm and dry.
If your dog will be spending a significant amount of time outside, consider a dog blanket. Similar to a horse blanket, these are often made of water resistant material, and are lined with fleece (or similar fabric). These ‘jackets’ will help keep her warm and dry, and will provide additional protection if she will be outside for a while. Sophie wears her blanket on hikes longer than 20 minutes, and when she is ‘assisting’ my efforts to shovel. As a side note, always remember fresh water for your dog while outside. Eating some snow may help, but providing fresh water is the best way to prevent dehydration.
I hope these hints help make your dog more comfortable this winter. And enjoy those fluffy, beautiful coats now…spring is right around the corner, when she will be shedding out for her summer coat!