Working at a pet store as a teenager and helping with the grooming and bathing of animals opened my eyes to the world of pet grooming. I also learned what types of grooming were appropriate for different times of the year. Grooming your pet in winter can be difficult if you are trying to make sure that they don’t get too cold. It can also vary depending on how big or small the pet is, and whether they are an inside or outside pet. Pet grooming is no longer limited to just dogs that have longer hair. Cats, pigs, hamsters, ferrets, and even rabbits are now groomed to help keep them healthy.
The most important thing to think about when deciding upon winter pet grooming is to ensure your pet’s health and safety. Outside pets can’t wear pet clothing as they could get it caught on a fence or limb and become entangled. For this reason you need to make sure that an outside pet has enough hair or fur to stay warm, but that it is also kept clean and dry. You definitely don’t want the hair or fur to become unmanageable and prone to insects or infection. Outside animals also need a place to stay dry and warm when the weather is bad, so making sure that they have proper housing in winter is also a must.
For inside pets the possibilities are not so slim, and continuing regular clipping or styles can be much easier. If the pet is one that housetrained and goes outside to use the restroom, then you need to be slightly more careful than if you have a pet that stays inside at all times. The pet needs to have enough hair to keep them warm on their trip outside, but not too much hair that they remain hot inside. Watching your pet to see if they are shivering or panting more than normal can also be a good indication that they are not groomed properly. Here are some good tips, which depend on different types of animals.
Dogs- Need to be kept warm outside if they have short hair or have recently had a trim. Dogs are not as clean as other animals, and need to be brushed and bathed more often as well. Outside dogs need to have a warm environment for at least an hour after being bathed to ensure they have had proper time to dry. A garage, or warm storage shed would work wonderfully.
Cats- Cats are much cleaner than some other animals, but their hair can still get out of hand if not groomed properly. Outside cats that have longer hair and need to be trimmed should not be trimmed as much in winter, and inside cats that never go outside can be trimmed as normal. Because cats clean themselves regularly, it’s not as big of an issue to bathe them. If they do wind up needing a flea bath or there is another need to bathe the cat, keeping them in a warm place for a while afterward is also recommended.
Pigs- Pigs are a newer pet to be kept inside and have recently become more popular thanks to the “pocket pigs” that have surfaced. Pigs are pretty hardy, however if you have a pig that has grown used to being kept inside, then it should be kept inside through the winter. The only issue with keeping a pig inside for an extended period of time is that their hooves will grow longer and begin damaging flooring. The ideal thing is to purchase an outfit and leash for your piglet so that you can dress it warmly then take it for walks outside. This will not only allow your piglet outside and allow for exercise time, but will help to naturally wear the hooves down as well. Walking should be done for at least 15 minutes, 3x’s a week. Pay attention to your piglet and if you notice that it is walking slower and taking longer pauses, its time to head back inside. Some people even go the extra mile and file the hooves, which is definitely a good idea if you live in extreme climates where walks are not an option.
Hamsters, Ferrets, Rabbits- Most smaller caged animals are inside all the time, and there is not much of a difference for them when winter comes. If you have one that is usually outside, then you need to allow their hair to naturally get thicker and grow in for the winter. If you normally clip or trim them, it would be ideal to let nature take its course and make sure they don’t get too cold. Their little bodies know what to do, and sometimes we just need to let them do what they need to, in order to survive.
I have seen bad grooms over the years that have caused serious issues, and I have also seen pets suffer with sickness or even death because of the wrong choices. You should never shave an outside pet when cold weather is imminent. You should ALWAYS make sure that any pet, even one with long hair that has always been outside, has proper shelter when the weather is rough. Every pet owner needs to pay close attention to their pet, and be observant to ensure your pet is not too hot or too cold. You know your pet, so use your own judgment in making sure your pet is safe.