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Grooming Tips for Dealing with Dry Winter Skin

Cold winter weather is hard on skin and hair for pets as well as for people. Just as the low humidity of heated indoor air dries out your skin, it will also can make your pet’s skin dry and itchy and fill his coat with static.

With a little extra attention to weekly home maintenance, however, you can help to keep your pet more comfortable and ensure his skin and coat are healthy all winter.

Do shampoo!
Contrary to popular opinion, your pet does need regular bathing throughout the winter months to keep his skin and coat healthy. In fact, done properly, frequent shampoos and conditioning can help to reduce dryness, matting and related skin problems.

Be sure to use a quality shampoo that is specifically formulated for pets. Don’t be tempted to grab your own hair products on your pet. Animals’ skin has a different pH and products formulated for human hair – even for babies – can be too drying on your pet.

Always follow the shampoo with a conditioning rinse. If your pet’s skin is especially dry, give him a moisturizing treatment: apply the conditioner thoroughly, then wrap your pet in a towel to keep him warm while allowing the conditioner to penetrate for five minutes (much like you might do when applying a deep conditioner to your own hair).

You can shampoo your pet as often as weekly if you use the appropriate products, but once a month is adequate for to keep your pet clean and odor free, while controlling dander and shedding.

Brush & brush again
On longer-coated breeds, it is very important to remove tangles and loose hair before shampooing or dense-felted matts will result. Matting is a major cause of skin problems during the winter months. Those matts will prevent proper drying and hold dampness against your pet’s skin. That can cause redness and irritation and make your pet uncomfortable.

Brushing regularly will prevent matting. What’s more, regular brushing with a soft bristle brush stimulates the natural oils in the skin and helps to counteract dryness and keep your pet more comfortable. The more often you brush, the better!

If your pet is a breed that requires regular trimming, it’s important to maintain his haircut schedule year-round. Don’t allow his hair to “grow in for the winter” unless you are prepared to brush him daily to prevent matting. If you’re concerned about your pet being cold when he’s outdoors, a sweater or fleece coat is a better option than letting his coat get so long that tangles and matts occur.