The sleigh bells are ringing, and the dog groomers are singing that it's Christmas time! It is the busiest time of the year for many retail-based jobs, but I cannot quite explain Christmas as a dog grooming professional. It is the most exhausting 3 weeks ever, but the most amazing. Everyone is in high spirits and it's so nice to pamper all the dogs in time for the special day, ready for their family visitors. With the busy season and the cold weather, there are lots of things to take into consideration in the winter months, that I will cover in this blog.
Dog Hair Length
First thing first...is longer hair better? This has to be my first point as I think I get asked about 10 times a day “can I keep fluffy long as it is cold.” Gone are the days where dogs require long thick coats to protect them against extreme weather. Most dogs don’t live outside, and many working breeds no longer carry out the working functions they were originally bred to do. Now they enjoy walking, playing, and living in a cosy heated home. It is important in the winter to take into consideration the extra mud, dirt and rain that is about. Having a ton of extra hair to get matted and wet, just makes it harder to maintain, so I highly recommend that dog owners keep their dog's usual hair length, unless there is a specific reason for a shorter coat, as you will have much less mud coming into your house after the walk. Dogs with longer hair actually stay wet and damp for much longer than a shorter dog. I’m not suggesting shaving them short but ideally between half an inch and an inch all over is an ideal length for winter.
There are a huge range of dog waterproof onesies and coats, so if your dog struggles with the cold, it can always wear one while outside. In winter if your dog has longer hair, I highly recommend a good detangling spray. Consider purchasing Natures Specialtie's Quicker Slicker, Artero Matt-X, DezynaDog Detangling Doo Conditioning Spray or the Groom Professional Knot a Problem. They are just a few of my favourites, that I use not only in the salon but also on my dogs PLUS I also retail to my customers.
Pet Paw Care
My second point has got to be about salt/grit. In the winter months, we sometimes get a flurry of snow and while we enjoy a walk in a winter wonderland, it can really bother our dogs. Firstly, the salt and grit that is laid to prevent us from slipping and sliding everywhere is extremely toxic to our dogs if ingested, so it's very important that after every walk you rinse their paws to prevent them from licking anything that could be life-threatening for them. The salt also dries out their pads, so it is important to invest in a good paw balm to rub on after walks. You can also offer this as an add-on package in your salon as well as retailing a paw balm to customers to ensure the best Paw care for our 4-legged friends.
Salted roads usually go together with ice and snow, and whether it's inside or outside the salon, I’m sure we have all found lumps of snow stuck to their paws after a fun walk. It's important to rinse these off after the walk to avoid frostbite to the paws and discomfort to your dog. I got a warm outside tap fitted outside my house especially for rinsing my dog's feet and it was the best money I ever spent. It melts away any ice lumps and gets rid of any mud before they come for cuddles on the sofa.
If your dogs do get wet and soggy in the winter months, I always tell my clients not to rub their legs with a towel, especially if they are a wool coat breed, as this really contributes to matting. Instead, I recommend dabbing the coat almost like you’re wringing them out to remove excess water. Once they are dryer, comb and brush through their coats, using a detangling spray. In the salon, we use the Groom Professional Water Magnet towel which removes up to 90% of excess water from the coat. These are great as they also cut down on our salon laundry.
I hope you all have a lovely woofmas and enjoy taking your dogs out in the winter wonderland weather this season!