Best Friends Pet Care : The Dog Dish Best Friends Pet Care : The Dog Dish

Grooming to Keep your Pet Healthy and Comfortable During the Winter Months

Winter is hard on skin – for humans and for our pets. Indoor heat and cold arid air outside make skin dry and itchy. Many owners are unsure about the best way to keep their pets comfortable in winter. The solution is to keep up regular grooming schedules.

Following are answers to some of the most often-asked questions about winter skin care.

Q.  Should pets be bathed during the winter?

A. Yes!  A clean pet is a healthy pet. Regular shampooing and brushing during the winter months keep the skin and coat healthy. Follow the shampoo with a conditioning and moisturizing rinse. The drying process is key, because leaving dampness at skin level can cause problems. A short coat might be fine with just a vigorous toweling, but longer hair needs separating with comb or brush and plenty of airflow. Be very careful with your home hair dryer: use the lowest heat setting and keep it moving to prevent burns. (Professional groomers are equipped with high volume, low heat machines to dry quickly and safely.)

Q. Should I leave my pet’s hair long in winter to keep him warm?

A. If you decide to leave the coat longer, be prepared to brush often to prevent matting. Tangles form fast and trap moisture, a major cause of skin problems. Matted hair is not comfy and warm, but air trapped in layers of a well-brushed coat is effective insulation.

Maintain the same haircut schedule year round for breeds that require regular trimming. Your groomer can keep the style longer than in the summer, but allowing hair to “grow in” all winter can necessitate a drastic ‘short shave’ in spring.

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 grow long and unruly.

Q.  My dog seems to itch a lot more during the winter. What can I do?

A.  With windows closed and heaters on, low humidity indoors will dry pet’s skin. Counteract this with regular brushing to stimulate and spreads the natural oils.

Medicated shampoos and soothing moisturizing conditioners help if your pet’s skin seems itchy or scaly. Consult a professional groomer or veterinarian for recommendations. Nutrition is also important for skin health; omega oils in food or as a supplement  is good.

Q.  Why do my pets nails seem grow faster in the winter?

A.  When dogs have fewer hours of exercise, nails can become overgrown because they are not being worn down with normal activity. Claws may need more frequent attention during the winter months. The ideal time is after the shampoo, while soft. Nails should  barely touch the ground when the dog is standing. While clipping, check for hair between the pads that form uncomfortable lumps, and trap snow and ice.

House pets need regular grooming for health and hygiene. Don’t skip tasks – like nail clipping and tangle removal – just because they are difficult. If there are things you cannot or do not want to undertake yourself, seek the help of a professional. Your pet will be happier and more comfortable.


Tags: Grooming, Pet advice, Winter

Should You Take the Family Pet on your Road Trip?

Ready for the road

Autumn is the season of weekend getaways by car. We take short trips to attend alumni events at our high school, to enjoy the changing colors of the leaves, or to attend family day at our child’s college.

Many of us are eager to bring along the family pet along, but wonder how to make a road trip work with our canine best friend in the back seat. Following are my suggestions for successful car travel with a pet.


Tags: Dogs, Pet advice, Pets, Travel

How can I make my senior dog with arthritis more comfortable?

“Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog”

–Sydney Jeanne Seward

Many of us know the joys and the challenges of living with a senior dog. As they age, it is not uncommon for our furry family members to develop arthritis which can significantly impact their mobility and quality of life. As a proactive pet parent, here are some things that you can do to make their golden years more comfortable.

senior dog with arthritis


There are a variety of supplements, also called nutraceuticals, now available that can help ease the inflammation associated with arthritis. Some of these include glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and omega-3 fatty acids. Not all products are created equal however, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian before giving these to your pet to be sure you are getting the maximum benefit.


Many senior-specific diets now include some of the supplements above as part of their ingredients. These diets are meant to improve joint health and may be an alternative to giving pills on a daily basis. Talk to your veterinarian before switching to one of these diets, especially if your dog is currently on a specific diet for another underlying health issue.


Now is the time to spurge on that really fancy dog bed you’ve had your eye on. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but be sure to provide your old friend with a nice soft place to lay down.


If they are able to, try and maintain a routine exercise schedule. Don’t do anything extreme but, if your dog is used to going for walks and still seems to enjoy it (without being too stiff afterwards), continue to do it. Swimming is another good exercise for dogs with stiff joints.

Arthritis (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory) medication

There are many medications currently available to treat dogs with arthritis. These medications can sometimes cause problems with the intestines, liver, or the kidneys so a visit to the vet and some routine blood tests will be a good idea before using these. Never use any over the counter medications for arthritis before discussing this with your family veterinarian.


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