Helpful Tips to Keep Your Dog Happy and Healthy in the Cold Winter Months

In my house, preparations for the colder temperatures are well underway; warm clothes are down from the attic, firewood has been stacked and the outdoor shower, much to my dismay, has been turned off for the season. As we all take care to prepare for seemingly long winter months ahead we should also take steps to ensure that our pets are ready. Those winter coats that are filling in now must be groomed, exercise needs to continue on a daily basis and regular bathing should still be frequent.  Here are some of my tips for how to stay on track with your furry friends as the weather continues to change.

Winter Grooming: Some of the challenges pets face in winter, particularly dogs, are those caused by the elements. Colder temperatures, snow and ice, dampness, wind and even the dry forced-air heat can cause problems. If you follow these steps to keep your pet groomed they should have little problems dealing with changing conditions.

  • Brush your dog’s long winter coats regularly to prevent tangles and mats. These snarls in their fur prevent the distribution of naturally occurring oils in their skin which keep both skin and fur healthy, they hold in excess moisture and make for poor insulation. Daily brushing helps keep coats looking beautiful, fluffy and warm.
  • Keep feet moisturized and crack free and those nails properly trimmed. Cold dry air, salty sanded streets and even ice and snow can be problematic for paws. It’s recommended to keep nails properly trimmed for traction on slippery surfaces and trim excess fur around pads so ice and snow won’t accumulate. Booties work to keep some dogs’ feet protected but I like to use a bowl of warm water at the door to rinse off the frozen dirt and salty grime after outdoor activities.

Indoor Bathing Tips: The combination of cold damp air and hot dry indoor air can wreak havoc on skin in the winter, I know it’s certainly tough on mine! That said, bathing should become regular and thorough to keep dogs healthy and happy.

  • To keep fur clean and skin healthy use moisturizing shampoos and conditioners. If you need help finding some, the Provincetown Pet Resort has plenty of gentle products and lots of great advice.
  • Bathe early in the day and on the warmest days of the week if possible.  This will allow your dog plenty of time to thoroughly dry off before they go outside again.
  • Keep everything warm! Use warm water to wash them and warm towels and dry them off from head to toe as best you can!
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