Dog grooming is not just for the summer! Grooming during the winter season is just as important and should not be overlooked. Certain breeds need to be groomed every 6-8 weeks no matter the season, not only for their appearance but also their general health. See why your dog may benefit from a haircut or professional bath in the winter.
The Importance of Winter Grooming
Contrary to popular belief, dog grooming in the winter is crucial depending on the breed. It also depends on their lifestyle during these cold months, and what is done at home to care for their skin and coat health. Many pet owners are reluctant to bring their dogs in for grooming in the winter because they're afraid their pet will be too cold if they get a haircut.
What's the harm in keeping their hair long?
As Canadians and people who live in Canada, we know all too well the importance of keeping ourselves warm and comfortable during the winter. So the same goes for our pets too, right? The keyword here is comfort.
There's no harm in keeping their hair long as long as you are maintaining a mat-free coat. However, if not brushed and combed out regularly, long hair can quickly turn into knots or tangles. When knots and tangles are left, they can become large and difficult to brush out without a good detangling spray. These balls of mats can then evolve into what we call "severe matting" that can envelop their whole body, which can only be shaved off by a professional groomer.
Some might say it's better to keep their coat even if they're matted, so their dog isn't shivering during their winter walks. After all, no one in their right mind would walk out in the cold without their winter jacket.
Matting is a condition that can be painful, uncomfortable, and even dangerous. In the beginning, we mentioned that comfort is the key to all this. Your dog may be warm with all the fur kept on, but if they're matted it defeats the purpose of their long coat. Moderate to severe matting can be painful because the matted area becomes bigger and the hair will start to pull on the skin underneath. In some cases, if the matting is left on for too long it will start to pull out the hair leaving bald patches of skin.
Severe matting can also be a source of hot spots, skin irritations, and skin infections. When matting becomes dense, it can act like a layer of felt covering the skin, which traps moisture and heat. In late winter or early spring, ticks and fleas start to come out when temperatures rise above 4 degrees Celsius. Matted hair makes a perfect comfy home for these critters and is a breeding ground for infestations.
The main components of matting include dirt, moisture, static, and friction. If your dog likes to run in fresh (or dirty) snow, you may find little "snowballs" on their underside and on their legs that are almost impossible to remove until the snow has melted. Dogs with wet hair love to rub against towels and carpets which is a source of static. Dog jackets or sweaters are also a source of static. If you do not completely dry and brush out their fur after their snowy adventures, it can turn into matting very quickly.
If you're not keen on brushing your dog daily or after every walk, it would be a good idea to clip them short (not summer short) and maintainable. It requires coming in for grooming every 6 to 8 weeks. If your dog's hair is still short after 6 weeks, you may benefit from a basic bath and brushing session with the groomer. This includes a shampoo, massage, blow-out, brushing from head to toe, a nail trim, and ear cleaning but no length taken off.
We often have customers who ask to have their matted dogs brushed out. That's no problem for knots and tangles. However, if matting becomes too tight, brushing is out of the question. Severe matting takes hours to brush out and is very painful to remove. The safer and humane option is to have a certified groomer clip the mats out slowly and carefully.
Once shaved, your dog may have very short hair and may look a little silly, but the good news is the hair will always grow back. Get them a nice warm jacket and you're good to go!
Forward us any questions about maintenance at home and we will discuss them in these articles. If you would like to be on our grooming waitlist, please email us your name, phone number, and approximately when they were last groomed. See you when we open after the lockdown!