SHERIDAN — Knowing how to prepare your puppy’s fur for all seasons is important knowledge all dog owners should know to keep their furry friend happy and healthy when recreating outdoors.
A common mistake made by many dog owners is not grooming their dog the correct way for a particular season.
“You should never shave a double-coated dog,” said Sheridan County’s Big Goose Veterinary Clinic and Wellness Center veterinarian technician Martie O’Grady. “The second layer of fur traps air and acts as insulation for both winter and summer. The first layer of hair is the fur your dog sheds in the summer to allow that air flow into the second layer, and cools them down.”
Double-coated dog breeds include Labrador retrievers, Australian shepherds, huskies, sheep dogs, and any other breed with heavier coats that can adapt to colder weather.
O’Grady said when an owner shaves their double-coated dog, it can affect them long-term once the hair tries to grow back. The hair will often not grow back properly, making the natural insulation defective.
Many owners mistake their dog for being overheated in the summer because of having a heavy coat. O’Grady suggested talking to your vet about proper grooming techniques for your dog, regardless of breed, before making a decision to drastically change the coat. Types of food provided for the pet also play an important role in a healthy coat.
“Nutrition is key to keeping your dog’s coat healthy,” O’Grady said. “A healthy coat means healthy skin, and that will help protect your dog the most from winters and summers.”
Keeping the proper length of coat on a dog also helps protect their skin from the sun.
“I’ve seen owners go as far as tattooing their pets to protect them from sunburn,” O’Grady said. “Dogs would have almost like black eyeliner around their eyes and some on the top of their nose.”
The snow reflects the sun, which can also give dogs a sunburn as easily as in warmer seasons. O’Grady said owners have the option to buy sunscreen for pets for all seasons, but specifically sunscreen created for dogs, as sunscreen made for humans can be toxic to the pet.
O’Grady said dog breeds with thinner coats or short-haired breeds, such as pitbulls, should try to be in the shade and out of the sun, covered up with a light jacket — which also applies to winter months, but with a heavier jacket — or have dog sunscreen applied to their backs and faces.
Jocie Corcoran from Muddy Paw Prints Pet Supplies in Sheridan said trimming a dog’s nails is also beneficial for them during the winter seasons because of the ice. The ice on the ground is a hard surface and can tear a dog’s nail down to the quik, the sensitive tissue within the nail, leaving them broken and painful for a pet.
“I tell a lot of owners to begin cutting their dog’s nails as puppies first, if they can,” Corcoran said. “This will help reduce them from getting out of control and bring the owners into (the) habit of getting their dog’s nails groomed properly.”
Corcoran also agreed about feeding dogs nutritional dog food to keep a healthy coat to protect them from all seasons.
Protecting a dog from all seasons is the most effective way in keeping a pet happy and healthy, and listening to a veterinarian’s advice on grooming and skin protection will keep pets safe in all types of weather.