Upstate New York winters can be brutally snowy, frigid, and downright long. It’s no secret that our climate can leave skin dry and cracked, and our pets’ fur matted and dirty. With spring around the corner, now is the perfect time to get your pet fresh and clean with a new grooming regimen. Whether you plan to groom your pet at home, or set up a full-service appointment in our grooming “Paw’lor,” consider the following checklist to prep your pet for the new season. 

Give your pet a good, cleansing bath

Build-up from snow, slush, and de-icing chemicals can leave your pet’s once-shiny fur coat matted, dull, and shabby. Start by putting your pet in the tub, and rinsing them with water until their fur coat is fully soaked. For pets with no underlying skin disease, an over-the-counter gentle shampoo is fine, but you may consider an oatmeal or ultra-moisturizing shampoo to combat the dry winter air. Work the shampoo into a lather, gently massage and stimulate the underlying skin, avoiding the insides of the ears, eyes, and mouth, and rinse well, avoiding the same areas. If your pet is difficult to bathe, focus on one area at a time, and take breaks when needed. Consider slathering a small amount of a long-lasting treat, such as peanut butter, on the tub wall to reward and distract your pet. Pets with thick, double coats may require you to lather, rinse, and repeat the process. If your pet has a history of skin allergies or another skin condition, consult our veterinary team for shampoo and conditioner recommendations. 

Consider a fresh haircut for your pet

If your pet has a thick, long, or wiry coat, a haircut may be in order. Whether you choose a standard-breed cut, or want to trim only the long hairs on the feet or face, a post-winter clip is typically a good idea. After a long winter, precipitation, grime, salts, and chemicals can build up in your pet’s fur, causing painful mats and skin irritation. While it may be tempting as warmer weather approaches, refrain from completely shaving your pet. The fur coat acts as a protective thermos of sorts, keeping pets warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and also helps protect the skin from damaging ultraviolet rays. If you are not comfortable clipping your pet’s hair coat, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our professional grooming service.

Check your pet’s paw pads

Since most pets don’t regularly wear shoes, their paws are subject to daily wear and tear. Add in cold, icy conditions, and de-icing salts or chemicals, and your furry friend’s paw pads may be in dire condition. In severe cases, your pet may limp, but many pets will endure the discomfort without showing any visible signs. If your pet routinely spends time outdoors during the winter months, ensure you check their paw pads daily for cracking or soreness. If you notice any paw abnormalities, or if your pet appears uncomfortable, schedule a consultation with your Stack veterinarian. 

Trim your pet’s nails

During the warm spring and summer months, many pet owners take their pets for walks or runs on pavement. The friction that occurs between your pet’s nails and pavement on sidewalks or roads can work as a nail file, helping to keep nails short. When winter hits and outdoor surfaces are covered with ice and snow, our pets may not get this added filing benefit, and the nails subsequently grow longer. Ensure that you add a nail trim to your pet’s spring grooming regimen.

Brush your pet’s hair coat

If the long New York winter has you behind on your pet’s brushing routine, now is a great time to get back on track. Choose a warm day to head outside and brush your pet with a variety of tools. Some owners prefer grooming mitts like these, which work well for short-haired breeds that don’t typically mat. Denser, fuller coats will require a slicker brush like this, and a wide-tooth comb to relieve matting. Consider picking up a comb like this to check for fleas, lice, and other ectoparasites. Contact us, if you discover any unwanted bugs on your pet. 

Since we may have several weeks of wintry weather ahead of us, don’t forget to review our post on winter weather safety tips. In the meantime, contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding grooming your pet.