How to care for your pet's skin during winter
Billions of pounds are spent on human skincare in the UK every year.
But as the temperature drops, the nights get longer and the central heating comes on, it’s important to consider how our pet’s skin is affected in the wintertime as well.
Licking, scratching and red spots are easy enough to spot, but what does all this mean?
From dry air irritation to seasonal allergies, keep reading to discover how you can make the colder months more comfortable for your four-legged friend.
When we head out in big boots and wrapped up in warm coats on our winter walks, often we assume our pets will be okay with just their collar and lead as usual.
After all, they have a real fur coat so they must be warm and protected, right? Wrong!
Road grit and salt scattered on the roads during this time of year can harm the paw pads and cause burning and damage that is very uncomfortable for our pets.
Not to mention the cold from the ice and snow can seriously dry their skin out.
Just like our lips get chapped in the cold and wind, our pet's skin gets the same under their coats - dry, irritable and itchy!
If you have a pet that enjoys a good swim, make sure you stop them from going for a dip in the wintertime.
However, it’s not always possible to prevent them from getting wet on walks, so be sure to have the right stuff at hand to dry them out thoroughly.
A dry towel and some pet-friendly cleaning wipes will do the job! Just give your buddy a thorough drying and use the wipes to clean away any harmful substances on the paws.
Not only will this keep your pet from getting too cold, but wet skin in the car or your warm home is the perfect environment for bacterial infections.
Dryness is a problem over the winter months, even inside the house. The air is dried out, sometimes causing itching, flaky skin and rubbing.
If you believe this is the cause of your pet’s skin discomfort, you might want to invest in a humidifier in the room they spend the most time. Similarly, you can bathe them in a medicated shampoo, specifically for itchy sensitive skin.
Our Omega Care supplement can help support good skin health all year round! The oil contains high levels of EPA and DHA for dogs and cats. These play an essential role in the healthy functioning of the brain, heart, joints, skin and coat!
Chilly, chapped noses and blinky, teary eyes are also common signs it’s too cold for your pet.
Perhaps consider walking somewhere with better wind cover, like a woodland path, and make sure you’re not out too long during the coldest part of the day.
Moving plenty and proper outdoor gear will make sure no one shivers their way through walkies. If you have a dog that’s particularly sensitive to the elements, treat them to a coat and some booties for added paw protection.
One of the many joys of winter, especially up North, is the lack of bugs in the air, but your pet can still pick up parasites.
Fleas and mites are active all year round and central heating in warm homes creates the perfect breeding ground. If pets aren't treated properly, they can carry fleas right into the house, causing an infestation.
The only way to avoid this is to use a regular flea and tick prevention treatment.
If your pet seems irritated, is constantly scratching or excessively chewing or licking areas of their body or there is any redness or moist areas, you should speak to a veterinary professional as soon as possible.
If you need advice on picking the right product for your pet's itchy skin or you want to get to the bottom of the cause of irritation, you can speak to a Buddycare vet nurse for free, here.
Our expert team can help you and your pet and let you know if it’s time to visit the vet.
Protect Your Pet
Keep an eye on how much water your pet drinks daily at home during the wintertime.
When it is colder outside, they may be less inclined to drink, especially if their water is cold, not changed regularly or not easily accessible.
Consider placing extra bowls around the house and filling them with filtered and lukewarm water, to encourage drinking.
Electrolyte supplements can be easily bought for very stubborn pets, and you should keep an eye out for signs of dehydration. This includes dry/sticky gums and nose, skin that remains proud after a gentle pinch, and lethargy.
Regular grooming is important all year for pets of all coat types. Brushing the coat keeps the skin and fur clean and allows warm air to circulate, keeping them nice and toasty.
One of the main reasons to groom, aside from bonding with your pet, is that it’s the perfect time to check your pet's skin thoroughly for any irritations or sores.
Remember to use grooming time to also check for evidence of parasites in your pet’s coat, and to upkeep any treatment they may have already been receiving.
Always thoroughly dry pets after bath time and walks to prevent any further irritation or infection.
If you aren’t sure how to go about grooming your pet or what to look out for, speak to one of our vet nurses here.
Walks are still important for you and your furry friend in winter time so make sure you are always properly equipped before you head out the door.
Short-coated or thin-skinned dog breeds like Whippets or Dachshunds should have a jumper or coat when it’s cold.
Make sure the material isn’t scratchy or irritating and that it doesn’t affect their movement so they can run as they would normally. Look for coats with waterproofing and a fleece lining, some even have a removable lining for warmer, wetter days.
They should also come with a gap so collars and harnesses can still be used. Lead control is especially important when the weather poses a risk.
As we mentioned earlier, you may want to consider snow boots to protect your pets’ feet from the harsh ground. This isn’t just advisable in the snow, but also when walking on salty roads, or rough terrane.
Finally, make sure you wash any pet coats, bedding and towels with no irritating detergent, as man-made chemicals can cause further irritation.
Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry! If your pet is showing signs of skin irritation, speak with a vet professional as soon as possible.
Go out and Enjoy the Cold!
Now you know how to keep your pet’s skin healthy, you can confidently face the cold weather and make the most out of winter!
Wrap up, stay safe and enjoy your winter walkies and adventures.