Winter is a tough time for your dog’s skin and coat, with atmospheric changes and a sudden drop in temperature causing the skin to dry out and the coat to lose some of its lusciousness. From a human perspective, this is fairly similar for us come October, when the wind, rain and frosty conditions dehydrate our skin and cause it to become dry and cracked.
October is also when many of us start putting the heating on, which can be very drying for the skin. This, mixed with long periods of cold, wet, wind, and of course seasonal allergies, is not a good combination for the delicate dermis and coat. The thicker and longer the dog’s coat, the more likely it is to get matted in the wind and rain, and the longer your dog is going to stay cold and wet for.
Regular grooming, proper hydration, the right nutrition and a comfortable indoor environment are all important factors in maintaining your dog’s skin and coat during winter, and avoiding dandruff, dullness and even painful skin complaints.
Here are VioVet’s ‘top tips for protecting the coat’ and maintaining a healthy glow:
- Groom often – even if your dog is short-haired, grooming regularly removes dead skin cells as well as dirt and grime that has gathered in the coat. It also helps improve blood circulation and stimulates the hair follicles to release their natural oils. Grooming daily or after every walk will also help you notice fleas and ticks, as well as dandruff and skin irritation. Keep the fur trimmed so it is easier to maintain and doesn't get matted up with mud and mess.
- Limit bathing – muddy winter walks mean muddy coats and paws, which calls for more baths at this time of year. However, if your dog has existing dryness, too much bathing can exacerbate the problem by stripping the skin of its natural oils. If it’s not possible to leave the mud to dry before brushing it off, try a simple water bath without shampoo, or use a product designed for sensitive skin such as an oatmeal or moisturising shampoo.
- Under-bathing also brings problems of its own, as does using the wrong shampoo, not rinsing or drying properly and having the water at the wrong temperature.
- Stay hydrated – you might think that your dog is more likely to get dehydrated in summer, but in winter he burns more energy keeping warm and therefore needs to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This will also help the skin by keeping it soft and supple and the coat shiny.
- Nutrition is key – for a healthy exterior, your dog needs to be healthy on the inside too. Consider including a fish oil supplement (omega 3 and 6) into your dog’s diet to help maintain a beautiful skin and coat through winter.
- Create a comfortable indoor environment – try to keep the house at a comfortable temperature and avoid making it too hot. While you can wear fewer clothes, your dog can’t simply remove its fur when the heating gets turned up. Sometimes scented candles and room diffusers can cause irritation to the skin, so think about how frequently you are using these.
- If your dog is scratching excessively or you notice any injuries to the skin, take him along to the vet as soon as possible.
If you have any advice on maintaining your dog’s skin and coat this winter, please comment below and share it with our other readers! Feel free to email me with any questions: [email protected]
Written by: Hannah Dyball