Cold weather can be tough on dogs. In fact, the dipping temperatures and moisture-robbing indoor heat may leave pups longing for the dog days of summer.

So, how can we as pet groomers help our furry clients combat the cold? Andis Company Grooming Educator Kendra Otto shares her favorite cold weather grooming pro tips to keep your clients looking and feeling good all winter long.

Nailing the Nails

When the temperature starts to drop, grooming goes beyond coat care. That starts at the paws. Dog owners commonly wait too long between nail clippings. Overgrown nails can contribute to major health issues including sore feet, legs and hips and overall discomfort.

When the temperature drops, dogs spend more time indoors meaning their paws encounter less friction, causing nails to be longer. Since dogs may go weeks or even months between grooming appointments, groomers must always clip excess nails. The key to nail clipping is learning what is considered “excess.”

“Dogs with black nails are the trickiest,” says Otto, Andis Company Grooming Educator.  “To spot the quick on black nails, look for the dark spot in the center of the nail.”

Having a hard time finding black nail quicks? You’re not alone. Otto suggests that black nails should be done in several smaller clips instead of one large clip (like you would do with clear nails).

Protecting Paws from “The Pack”

Cold weather wreaks havoc on dog paws. In the winter for example, snow can pack between toes causing matting and great discomfort.

Take preventative measures against “the pack” by trimming the hair between the paw pads.

“Follow the natural bone structure of the foot,” says Otto. “For clipping paws, I like to use a trimmer that is smaller in diameter, like the Andis EasyClip™ Mini Clipper/Trimmer. It’s compact and perfect for light-duty clipping such as around the paws.”

Getting The Perfect Winter Coat

There is a common misconception that dog’s don’t need to be groomed during the cooler months. As groomers, we know that’s a myth.

Less sun exposure during cooler months actually stimulates hair growth, which will make your dog’s coat thicker, says Otto. It’s okay to keep the coat a bit longer than usual since the coat will add some protection during the cooler months, but pet parents should keep dogs on a regular grooming schedule.

Decrease doggy shave down chances by educating pet parents on longer coat maintenance requirements.

“I always like to send pet parents home with an Andis Soft-Tooth Slicker Brush, which simultaneously removes undercoat to prevent matting and stimulates hair growth for healthier hair,” says Otto.

Bathing + Massage = Healthy Skin and Fur

During the cooler months, pet parents often stray away from a regular bath schedule. Many times it’s up to groomers to repair lackluster coats and dry, flaking skin.

Today’s state-of-the-art shampoos and conditioners do a great job loosening and cleaning dirt while also

leaving necessary oils. Pro tip—don’t  “scrub” the coat. Scrubbing breaks down the hair shaft, which only damage the dog’s coat further and create even dryer skin. Instead, lightly massage shampoos in and allow the product to dissolve dirt.

“The massage technique is sure to be a hit with your furry clients,” says Otto. “Plus, your hands will be thanking you for using this less muscle-intensive technique.”

Make Sure to Offer Deshedding Services

Many of my customers tend to leave their dogs’ fur longer and also do not like to deal with the extra shedding that is characteristic to the cooler months, Otto says.

I recommend de-shedding services along with a longer clip to help keep the pet warm and the coat more manageable. “Another great tool to send pet parents home with is the Andis Large Pin Brush,” says Otto. “It not only removes tangles, dirt and loose hair, but also provides greater pet comfort during grooming.”

And there you have it! A dog’s skin and coat life cycle plays a big part in the reasoning behind regularly scheduled grooming appointments during the winter. Keep your furry clients happy and coming back by enacting these above cool-weather-grooming hacks.