What you are about to read is terrible. Believe me, I re-wrote this 4 times but there’s just no easy way to say it. I’m always honest with my clients and there’s no reason not to be here. If you don’t like to read things that may upset or offend you, don’t, but I’ve only written this so harshly because I care about the dogs and educating their owners. So go on, continue to read this post for the love of your dog and for educational purposes as I cannot stress enough how important regular grooming is for the health of your dog.
What happens if my dog doesn’t get groomed through winter?
This depends a little on the breed and coat of your dog. I’m mainly talking about dogs with long hair and dogs with double coats as they are usually the most affected by long periods* of not being groomed. I’ve listed a few very common possible results that groomers see when a dog hasn’t been groomed for a long time and some signs your dog is due for a groom.
* A long time, in grooming terms can differ from dog to dog but generally refers to not being groomed at all for more than 4 weeks.
Short/Smooth Coated Breeds
Signs: Physically seeing dirt/mud, your hands are dirty after patting your dog, lots of tear staining or excessively long nails.
Possible Result: More hair than usual falling out, flaky skin and sore feet.
Long Haired Breeds
Signs: Hair is beginning to stick together in strands, you can’t put a comb easily through the coat, debris stuck in the coat, urine/faeces smell, inability to walk at all or correctly, brown gunk in eye corners and as above.
Possible Result: A very uncomfortable dog, urine/eye infection, general body sores, grass seed lodged between toes, irritated skin/rashes and matting.
Some of these sound awful and you may be thinking “I’ve never let that happen to my dog!” and if that’s the case I’m really glad to hear that. But, the fact is many owners don’t notice and never meant for their dogs to get this way. It’s not uncommon for a groomer to have to gently remove a dogs ‘pee-pee’, we’ll call it, from being attached to their stomach as the hair has entangled itself to it. This leads to the dog painfully urinating on themselves, every-time-they-go-to-the-toilet. I’m so sorry you had to read that!
The inability to walk correctly may seem far-fetched, but its not. It can occur from nails that are too long, matting and/or debris, like grass seeds or mud, stuck between their toes making it uncomfortable or painful to walk. Ever had a stone stuck in your shoe? Lucky you have hands with which you can remove the stone.
Grooming is so important for the health of your dog. And now you too, know why.
Reasons You May Think it’s OK Not to Groom During Winter
- They don’t like the drier and will be cold if left wet.
Don’t wet your dog. If you brush your dog often with a conditioning spray you are removing knots before they become really bad, conditioning and protecting the coat and preventing any odour. You can also use a warm damp towel to remove any mud or debris if needed. This goes for long and short haired dogs.
- Longer hair will help keep them warmer.
Yes, but only if their hair is properly cared for. A Matted dog cannot regulate their body temperature efficiently as the thickened areas prevent air flowing to and away from the skin.
- They’ve had a jumper on all winter.
Jumpers should only be worn whilst supervised but if you think your dog is feeling the cold give them some extra blankets. You should be removing and checking underneath your dog’s coat or jumper at the end of the day if they have been wearing it all day as the friction can cause knots.
- They’ve got short hair.
Your dog still has skin, don’t they? Grooming is not just about their hair, it’s also about the health of their skin. Use a rubber curry and give them a nice brush every week, again, with a conditioning spray and then wipe away the excess hair with a towel.
- We went away and ‘X’ was looking after them.
Leave notes for any caregivers so your dog doesn’t have to suffer while you’re away. It takes only a few minutes to give your dog a quick check over and a brush. Your dog and your groomer will love you for it
- They don’t like the drier and will be cold if left wet.
For long haired breeds, taking your dog to the groomers doesn’t always mean they will need to be shaved down short. In fact, if your dog is regularly groomed by yourself or a groomer, I can guarantee they won’t need to be shaved short. The better condition your dog’s coat is, the more length you will be able to keep. A matted and/or knotty dog will need to be shaved short to remove the mats/knots. A tangle free dog can have its hair brushed out and lightly trimmed to whatever length is prefered.
Double coated breeds who miss out on having those big white tufts of fur removed or brushed out are at a serious risk of not being able to regulate their body temperature and of course, as above, a matted or knotty dog will need to be shaved down which is not good for these breeds with double coats.
I’m sounding like a broken record but a good conditioning spray will help a lot with your dogs smell and aid knot removal.
Does your dog suffer from ‘Dog Smell’?
They shouldn’t! This is usually a sign of a poor quality diet or a dog that rolls around in dirty things a lot – haha! If you’ve ever given your dog a can of sardines you’ll know all too well that what they eat comes out of their skin. Check what you’re feeding and see if you can switch them to a higher quality food. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make!
Tips for Winter Grooming
- Have your long haired dog clipped at a longer length just before the cold weather sets in and have your groomer show you how to brush them.
- Book your dog in 2-3 weekly for a sanitary trim. This normally includes their privates being shaved for cleanliness and toileting comfort, feet trimmed so they don’t drag dirt/mud everywhere or get it stuck in the hair between their toes and a trim around their face so they can see, as well as some length off their tail. You’ll have a comfortable, clean and warm pup!
- Brush your dog for a few minutes every day to every other day to make sure their not developing any knots and to remove any clumps of fur. Sometimes you can pull these off with your hands other times it’s easier to use a brush.
- Continue your grooming schedule as normal! If your dog is groomed every 4-6 weeks. Keep going!
- If you actually prefer your dog to be shaved down short but think to let it grow out during winter will keep them warm and you’ll be ready to shave them down again when the weather warms up… Please don’t do that and read everything above again.
The Fluffy Truth
All dogs need some form of grooming. A nail trim, a brush, the occasional bath. Just because the weather becomes cold, does not mean you need to stop grooming your dog. Speak with your groomer about the appropriate steps to take regarding winter grooming and if need be speak with them about some ways you can save a few $$ – most would be happy to help you create a grooming schedule that works for you and your dog and may or may not involve you needing to help at all, depending on how involved you would like to be.
It is getting colder but please remember to…