With cold, snowy weather fast approaching, it is essential for dog owners, new and old, to do everything they can to ensure their dogs remain safe, happy, and healthy. To do that, pay particular attention to dog winter coat maintenance by making sure you keep your dog’s coat healthy and the right length.
It’s not complicated. Follow these simple tips and techniques to keep your dog’s coat beautiful and healthy no matter how cold it gets out.
Dog winter coat maintenance: Short coated dog
If you have a short-coated dog, then things are pretty straightforward.
Their top and undercoats will tend to get thicker and reach a maximum length; it is vital in this time to help your pup maintain a naturally healthy coat and prevent it from drying out. To do this, we recommend:
- Keep bathing to a minimum
- Brush your dog’s coat daily
- Add healthy oils to their diet
- Make sure they drink enough water
By reducing baths (which dries out the fur and removes oils) and increasing brushing (which helps keep the dog clean and spreads their body’s natural oils), you will find both your dog’s coat and skin naturally become more resilient to cold weather.
By adding fish such as sardines to their diet or providing Omega-3 supplements derived from fish to their meals, your dog’s coat will become more healthy.
Start adding fish and oils before winter if possible. If you haven’t done that, it’s not too late. Now is a great time to start.
Dog winter coat maintenance: Long coated dog
In addition to the advice for dogs with short coats, those with long coats need specific grooming to better prepare them for the cold.
The most common question is how long the coat should be?
The short answer is, as long as you can manage.
The longer the hair, the warmer the dog will be.
In northern states where the temperatures drop the lowest, you will want to leverage your dog’s natural coat as much as possible to keep him warm. Keep in mind, however, that longer coats require significantly more maintenance.
So you need to balance your dog’s warmth with your time and willingness to wash, brush and maintain his coat.
Follow the snow rule
The one exception to this hair length rule is in the snow. If snow or ice builds up on your dog’s coat while the dog’s outside, it can cause discomfort. Snow tends to get packed between the paw pads and on the back of the dog’s legs. Keeping the hair trimmed short will help reduce that problem.
Keeping the hair short may seem counter-intuitive, but it is better to reduce ice buildup in the snow than try to keep their legs warm with longer hair. Too often, we see long-haired dogs limping due to snow buildup in their fur. It’s painful for your dog and cruel to leave the hair long on their feet when they have to go out in the snow.
Shave the back of your dog’s leg and foot at 3/16 of an inch up to the elbow using a suitable pair of dog clippers for your dog’s coat type. Don’t forget to trim the hair between the paw pads as short as possible. Usually, a straight 10-blade will be the correct length.
Consult this handy dog clipper guide if you are unsure which clippers you need. The guide will help you find the type and style clipper most suitable for your dog’s coat.
Provide extra protection
Sometimes your dog’s coat won’t be enough to keep him warm. Consider dressing your dog in a jacket or sweater in extreme weather conditions and covering his paws with boots.
Use these simple rules to help keep your dog safe and warm, so you don’t have any excuses for staying inside and skipping those all-important daily walks.