Tips for Taking Care of Your Dog This Winter, from Top Coat to Paw-ttom


It has been warmer than usual, but don’t let the weather fool you—winter’s wonderland is just around the corner. From snow-covered streets and icy sidewalks to snowballs entering the home via Fluffy’s feet, preparation is key for surviving months of hibernation while keeping your pet warm and healthy. Who better to ask for some snow prep advice than Kim Gallagher, owner of Unleashed Spa in New York City, who generously shared some fabulous advice and recommended go-to products.

The Coat is Key

Comb the Coat. The importance of this mantra cannot be underestimated. Keep your dog’s coat free from tangles and knots because once it starts to tangle there is a “snowball” effect. Gallagher says, “Once the coat gets a little tangle, it grows, and grows and grows. Your dog’s coat mats, the dog goes out into the snow, it gets wet, then it shrinks, which gathers up more hair and further mats. The cycle continues, so it is important to keep combing your dog’s coat and keeping it under control.”

De-Shedding is De-Best

Some dogs shed seasonally, while others shed year-round. Shorthaired dogs tend to fall in the latter category, and are often brought in for professional de-shedding (removing the undercoat).

Paw Pads Need Love Too

Pay special attention to paw pads during the winter months. “Be very careful if they are cracked,” Gallagher says, “ The salt on the streets can do alot of damage. It can burn, and we see dogs sadly come in with bleeding paw pads.” At Unleashed Spa, during a Paw Pad treatment, paws are cleaned out, hair is cut out and a product called Musher’s Secret is applied to protect cracked paws from the cold. Think chapstick for paw pads. As a bonus, Musher’s Secret can be used on pup’s nose too for extra winter protection.

Doggies Fight Dry Skin Too

Dry skin gets the best of us in the winter months, and dogs are no exception to the plight. Much like their parents, using an oatmeal-based shampoo or combined oatmeal and aloe product is ideal for soothing skin and preventing dryness. If the problem persists don’t wait too long to visit your veterinarian.  For example, allergies can cause a more serious problem that requires both a veterinarian’s trained eye to determine the cause and a veterinarian recommended product to treat the issue. Products like Duoxo from Ceva Animal Health are just one example.

Outfits Go Beyond Style

Pets look absolutely adorable in sweaters, coats and raingear, and that’s why they wear them…well, not entirely true. They’re practical too! “I definitely recommend coats in the winter for dogs. Remember, small dogs weren’t originally bred to be that small, and therefore they get really cold. I would even recommend coats and raingear for mid-sized dogs. But certainly, if your dog is under 10 lbs., they should have a coat in the cold,” says Kim.

How Often to Go Pro

Most professional groomers say you should bring your dog in every 6-8 weeks. Realistically, you can do every 8 weeks if you keep your dog’s coat tangle-free. Bathe pup at home and save some time and money. That said, once the hair is severely matted, your pet will have to come in and get shaved.

Look for a fine pet spa near you, or if you are located in New York City, to find out about more about Unleashed Spa visit their website, Facebook or Instagram, or walk in at 218 Avenue B, New York, NY.


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