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Winter Care

Taking Care of a Pomeranian in the Winter

Pomeranian running in winter snow
Photo courteys of owners: Penny & Randy Ketterman
Winterizing Your Pom

For those of you who live in an area that endures cold weather, it is important to know how to winterize your Pomeranian.

For many of us, winter means cold temperatures, wet participation in the form of freezing rain and/or snow and drier air as well.  

These elements can affect a Pom's:
  • Coat
  • Skin
  • Paws
  • Rate of shedding
  • Ability to control body temperature
  • Appetite
  • Activity level
For these reasons, there will need to be a change in how you groom your Pom and some care elements in regard to feeding and exercise.
In the section, we are going to discuss:
  • How to winterize the coat, paws and nose of your Pomeranian
  • Steps to prevent drying of the skin (a common winter problem for this breed)
  • Taking your Pom out in the snow and cold
  • Changes to expect in regard to eating and exercise
  • Letting a Pom play in the snow
  • Steps to keep your Pomeranian happy in the winter, despite any nasty cold weather
Grooming and Protection of the Coat

Taking care of a Pomeranian in the winter time will focus quite a bit on proper care of both the skin and the coat. 

The main reason for this is that whether or not it is snowing out, the air in the winter is much drier than in the spring, summer or autumn. Moisture that remains in the air is called the humidity factor. When it is cold out, the air is not able to hold onto very much moisture. And don't think you're safe by staying indoors! When that arid air meets the warm temperatures of a heated house, it dries out even more. For this reason, your Pomeranian simply will not be able to escape the damage that dry winter air can do to his coat and skin without some help from you.

2 main things can occur without proper winterization:

1) Skin can become dry and chapped. When this happens, hot spots (red, irritated skin), and itchiness will occur (sometimes severe). Once this happens, thinning of the coat is not far away.

2) The coat can become very static and this causes split ends. Split ends (if not trimmed back) will run up toward the root. Hairs will break off and the fur will thin out. Protecting a Pomeranian to avoid this is much better than trimming the coat after damage has occurred.

Use a good product at the right times - While all owners should be using a quality leave-in conditioner, it is important in the winter more than ever. Spraying on a good amount will coat the hairs and create a shield that protects the fur from the harmful effects of a cold, dry winter season. Remember that your house will hold less humidity than normal as well, so even if you take your Pom outside less during cold weather, this is still an important grooming step.
Pomeranian in wintertime
Teddie, 1 year 4 months old
Photo courtesy of owner: Amanda Miller
Here are the steps:

1) It is best to apply the leave-in product in the morning to start the day and then a lighter coat right before bedtime.   

2) Start off with a coat that is free of dead hairs and mats. Therefore, go over all areas with a good slicker brush to pull out any shedded hairs and then give it a once over with a comb to ensure that there are no mats. 

Note: Though the coat will have filled out more to prepare for the cold weather, there will always be dead hairs due to the life cycle of the follicles.

3) Once this is complete, it is time to apply the leave-in product. A small pin brush works best; you'll want to choose one that is textured in the right way to distribute the product but not too rough as to irritate the skin. Work in sections, spraying the leave-in conditioner near -but not on- the roots. As you go, stroke down to the ends.

Once you have gone over every area, spray some into your hands, rub them together and then scrunch into the ends of the coat to really coat the tips. 
4) Don't go overboard; too much will weigh the coat down, make the fur oily and block healthy air circulation to the skin pores. As you go, think 'lightly mist'. The application done in the evening will be a light touch-up for any that has rubbed off during the day. It will be to continue the protection as your Pomeranian sleeps (fur rubbing against fabric during the winter can cause static).

Winter Bath Care

You should be sure to keep up on your schedule of a bath every 3 weeks. While it is okay to extend this time in the summer to every 4 or even 5 weeks, in the winter you will want to stay right on track since there will be an accumulation of the leave-in conditioner. 

Don't worry about the element of 'too many baths dries the skin' because if you use the right products, that will not be an issue. The goal will be to use a moisturizing shampoo to clean off all residue - be sure to scrub down through the coat very well and rinse super well since any dry soap particles will be more irritating to a Pomeranian's skin in the winter. This is followed by using a moisturizing conditioner to protect and soften. 

These thorough baths will wash out all the built up oils and products on the fur, leaving it 'fresh' to start over again until it is bath-time in another 3 weeks.

With skin so prone to becoming dry in the winter, it is best to allow your Pomeranian to air dry and refrain from using a blow dryer. Use a soft, absorbent towel and scrunch the coat to absorb water, making sure not to rub.

Plan baths well in advance so that your Pom does not need to be taken outside with damp fur (this could prove dangerous in the winter).

As always, even if you have placed cotton in the ears to prevent water from entering the outer canal, be sure to wipe the leather dry with clean, sterile piece of gauze or a clean, sterile cotton ball.
Protecting the Paws, Nose and any Exposed Skin

Skin can go from healthy to dry in the blink of an eye, so part of caring for a Pomeranian in the winter will be to protect the skin but also to inspect it on a daily basis in order to find any potential issues very early.

Note: It is very important to note that it is best for your Pom to have his normal amount of outdoor exercise and walks unless the weather is so severe that doing so would endanger you or your dog. Don't let a bit of snow or some cold weather and the fear of its effects keep you from making sure your Pom stays active! 

If you properly winterize your Pom and you yourself bundle up nicely, you can both enjoy the beauty of wintertime.
Poms with clothes for winter
Luna & Wolfie
Photo courtesy of owner: Cristina Johnston
Here are important skin care tips for winter:

1) Early intervention for dry winter skin - If you notice any dark pink or red spots or any flaking areas, immediately apply your Rescue Lotion. Gently massage it in, using small circular motions and we recommend doing this 3 times per day until the spot(s )are back to normal.

2) Protect the paws with a quality paw balm and use proper booties for when you take your Pomeranian outside.

We must remember that paws are made of skin and are subjected to harsh weather and can dry out as much - if not more - than skin on the body. When not protected, chapped peelings paw skin can be quite uncomfortable and even lead to problems with the nail beds.

Even if you use booties when outside (more ahead) rubbing in some good paw wax once a week can keep that area of the body protected and moisturized and prevent cracking.

Now, in regard to shoes/boots, you'll want to choose a pair that is rugged, easy for a Pom to actually walk in and weather-resistant. Booties are super important to give traction, keep the freezing cold away from entering the Pom's body via the feet and - importantly - to protect from ice melts chemicals. 

Even if you do not use ice melt products at your home, many towns and cities spread these over roadways. Cars pick up these substances and deposit them everywhere. Even tiny amounts can cause chemical burns to toy breed dogs.

3) Protect your Pom's nose- The harsh cold winds of winter can do quite a bit of damage to a Pom's little nose. And before you even notice that it is dry, there can be cracking and crusting issues. Since a puppy or dog licks their nose quite a bit, even a few minutes outside in the winter can cause chapping.  

Winterizing the nose is really fast and easy. Using a good paw/nose balm or some nose chap sticks (this is what we like to do), just 3 or 4 small dabs and wipes will place a protective layer on the nose and keep the leather safe from the winter air.

Which Products to Use

If you have winter care products that you are happy with, there is no reason to switch when you have some that are proven to work for your Pom. If, however, you are not sure what would be best, we have all of our personal recommended products listed in the 'Grooming' section of the Pomeranian Specialty Shoppe.
Pomeranian for blog
"Woof, rufff, rrrr...grrr... UMPHF!"

Translation: "Tweets for treats...? ... or share for... ahh... a pear??? 
Well, you get the gist! Show me some love & share this site before you read on."
Control the Humidity in the House

Since so much of the care of a Pomeranian in the winter revolves around dry skin and coat issues, keeping the humidity level in the house at a moderate level will help quite a bit. If you choose to purchase a humidifier do keep in mind its capacity as most units will only work for one or two rooms. 

Also, please remember that they must be regularly cleaned to keep them free of bacteria. There are some 'home remedies' to create moisture, including:

1- Placing metal bowls of water on top of heat registers or heaters

2- Leaving the door to the bathroom open during and after showering

3- Taking a large Ziploc bag and punching roughly 20 holes in it, placing a large wet sponge inside and then placing that on counters and other areas. You may need 5 to 10 of these spread over the house.

4- Obtaining houseplants, since they release moisture after they are watered. 
Taking a Pomeranian Outside in the Winter

Not only will you need to take your Pom outdoors for bathroom needs (unless he is pee pad trained) it will be important to maintain normal activity levels as much as possible. It is quite common for dogs to eat a bit less in the summer and a bit more in the winter. If you combine this with a decrease in exercise, you have the recipe for declined health.

Exercise - and walking in particular - keeps both the heart and muscles healthy. 

Unless there is a blizzard or sub-freezing temperatures, it is best to properly clothe your Pom (and yourself) and head out for his once-a-day or twice-a-day walk. 

Clothing at this time is more important than ever. This breed can be very picky about certain elements; if a Pom is taken outside and feels the full effects of the cold he may be very reluctant to venture outside again. It is best to keep your Pom warm from the get-go. 
Pomeranian wearing winter clothes
Toy breed dogs struggle to maintain core body temperature much more than their larger counterparts. Therefore making sure that your puppy or dog is warm is an important part of winter care for the Pomeranian.

Any time that the temperature is below 32 F (0 C) (factoring in the wind chill), be sure to place a heavy sweater or thick hoodie on your Pom. If it is snowing, put a water-proof parka on your Pom. If you are looking for some cute Pom clothes that also offer great protection, you may be interested in the 'Clothing' section of the Pomeranian Specialty Shoppe.

Playing in the Snow

Some Poms dread the snow and will expect their path to be shoveled to perfection with outdoors and will bring you their booties to put on them before even going close to the door. However, some love the snow as if it was the best creation on Earth. It is just fine to allow your Pom to have fun playing in the snow if he is supervised and if you keep the time to no longer than 20 minutes. 

Even with full clothing on, more than 20 minutes playing in moderate snow is risky in regard to possible hypothermia since the coat will be getting wet and the dog will have his whole body in the frozen snow as he jumps and romps around. Some get so excited that the body warms up due to moving around so fast and then there is a sudden drop-off point of the cold settling in. 

And we must stress again, that this must be supervised. Once back inside, be sure to use a soft, absorbent towel to dry your Pom. It can help to put a t-shirt on him as his body works to warm back up.
Pomeranian with winter coat on
Li'l Lass, 9 weeks old
Photo courtesy of owner: Catherine Edmonds
Changes to Expect in the Winter

Part of providing good winter care for a Pomeranian and getting your dog read for winter is knowing what is normal and what is sign that something is wrong. Here are some things to expect:

1) It is normal for there to be a slight increase in food consumption and a slight decrease in exercise during the winter season. Even if you do bring your Pom out, for many owners there will be certain days of weather that is so bad it is just not feasible to venture out. 

For these reasons, there may be a small increase in weight. 1/4 to 1/2 pound is considered normal. If you notice any gain larger than this (or a weight loss) that would be reason to bring the concern to the veterinarian.

2) Behavior may become a bit more restless. Dogs can experience cabin fever in the winter just as some humans can and they may not always follow the lead of their owner. You may have an owner that is just fine with staying indoors with a roaring fire and a cup of cocoa but her dog may become frustrated that he can't burn off pent-up energy. For some Poms, even going from 2 walks per day to 1 can be hard to handle. 
You can help your Pom by doing some fun things in the house. Winter is a great time to work on commands or tricks! Also, even simple things like encouraging your Pom to follow you around the home to pick things up (you carry the basket, your Pom picks up the items) can be fun if you use an exited tone of voice and offer praise as you go along. Playing a game of hide n' seek, allowing your Pom to chase you or even letting a Pom play with a frozen ice cube on a slippery floor (always great for teething puppies) can be enough to cheer up a dog that feels more confined in the winter.
In addition, some dogs can feel as if their schedule is thrown off when days are shorter and sunlight is limited. A Pom may want to go to sleep much earlier than normal, etc. It can help to perform a grooming task right after the sun sets such as brushing the teeth. This sends a message that even though it got dark out, the day is not quite over yet.  

3) Senior Poms may have aches and pains due to arthritis flaring up. Reevaluated his bed to see if it is time for a better orthopedic one and if there seems to be a significant amount of increased discomfort, do not hesitate to bring this to the attention of the vet.

4) A Pomeranian will not shed more during the winter, but expect a good shed as winter comes to a close and spring approaches. Shedding is triggered by changes in daylight hours and not the temperature. For this reason, even if you have a chilly spring, a Pom will start shedding as the days grow longer.

There are those of us who just love the four seasons and those of us who dread the onset of winter. Either way, that season of cold, snowy weather is going to affect both puppies and dogs. If you get your Pomeranian ready for winter, you can avoid the worst pitfalls of dry skin and damaged coat. Plan for the season in advance so that when that first snowstorm strikes and that arid air moves in, you will both be ready.
You may also be interested in reading about Pomeranian Summer Care - for grooming, feeding, coat care and more during hot months. 
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