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Winter Grooming Issues for Cats & Dogs

Just as it changes human hair, the winter months bring grooming challenges for your dog or cat. How much you’ll need to do will depend on the breed, of course, and whether their fur is short or long, fine or thick and whether they shed or not. Here are some ideas on how to keep your pet’s coat healthy and well-groomed over the winter.

Dogs

• Help to protect paws by getting in the habit of wiping them off right away when they come back into the house from outside. Your furry friend will likely get into the habit too and may even enjoy the extra attention. If your dog doesn’t chew them off, then rubber booties may also be a protective option.
• Don’t neglect bath time in the winter. Longer, thicker coats probably need them even more than summer coats to avoid matting. Make sure your dog is completely dry before going outside – it may make the most sense to bathe them right after a walk. If you’re not sure if they are completely dry, feel free to use a blow dryer.
• An alternative to a full, wet bath – sprinkle the coat with corn starch and brush out the excess powder. It works like a dry shampoo, attracting dirt that you then discard.
• Remember to brush their fur more often than usual because of the thickened winter coat. Doubling the schedule is usually sufficient although some breeds really require daily brushing to stay unmatted.
• Your dog’s nails may need extra trimming in the winter if they aren’t getting a natural trim from walking on pavement. Frozen and snowy sidewalks don’t have the same effect.

Cats

• Even indoor cats will get a thicker coat during the winter. That means more brushing to prevent tangling and matting – and more work for you – but the more you get in the brush, the less there will be on your couch.
• Static electricity is produced when an object with a positive charge rubs up against an object with a negative charge. The reaction actually causes the two objects to end up with the same charge, which means they repel each other. That explains why your cat’s fur will sometimes stand on end when they rub up against you, the furniture or anything around the house. You can help to avoid static by:
o Avoiding plastic combs and brushes as plastic is an excellent conductor of electricity. Metal combs and groomers are best as they absorb an electrical charge.
o A bath with mild soap will help. After shampooing, try spritzing fur with a light mist of Argan oil.
o Spray fur lightly with water before brushing. Water neutralizes ions.
o If you blowdry, use an ion-reducing dryer.
o In general, keeping the air in your home at the correct level of humidity during the winter months should reduce the incidence of static.

For all pets: be sure to keep current with flea and pest control. They may not be able to withstand the cold but can survive the winter quite nicely by staying indoors.

To your pets best health!

Dr. Gary Arzem, Newmarket’s Veterinarian

About Dr. Arzem and The North Yonge Veterinary Hospital:
Dr. Gary Arzem received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from The Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario in 1989. He is the founder and head veterinarian at The North Yonge Veterinary Hospital in Newmarket, Ontario. Having practiced veterinary medicine for more than 25 years, his skills and special interests include surgery, dentistry, diagnostic imaging (ultrasound and radiography), dermatology, internal medicine, cardiology, ophthalmology and public health as it relates to pets and their owners. He is a founding member of The Veterinary Emergency Clinic of York Region in Newmarket. Dr. Arzem is recognized as an educational leader in the community and is involved with The Ontario Veterinary College, York Region District School Board, Simcoe County Board of Education, and Seneca College’s Co-Operative Education Programs. Dr. Arzem also participates in several continuing education conferences, including The North American and Western Veterinary Conferences and he is actively involved in fundraising for a number of charitable organizations, such as The Pet Trust Fund, The Farley Foundation, The Hospital for Sick Children and the Canadian Cancer Society. He has also appeared on City T.V.’s Animal House Calls and Rogers Your Pet Your Vet television shows and has written several articles for Newmarket’s Snapd Newspapers.

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