Winter pet care and grooming tips

Cat wearing a pink knitting hat with pompom and a scarf lying in a basket

While many people think that because our pets have fur, they can cope just fine with the colder weather, the fact is that our pets have grown accustomed to the warmth and comfort of our indoor environments. For our pampered pooched and kitties, dealing with the cold and wet isn’t as easy as it once was for their un-domesticated ancestors.

We’re often asked how keeping our pets warm and comfortable can improve their health. The truth is, a clean, warm and comfortable environment can do wonders—especially when the temperature is considerably cooler outdoors. Plus,  we’re convinced that keeping our pets warm in winter makes for a happier, healthier animal in the long term.

To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a bunch of simple tips for how to keep your fury friends happy and in tip-top condition during winter.


Use a winter coat to keep them toasty

close up portrait of pretty sweet small little dog Yorkshire terrier in pullover outdoor dress, jacket on the spring sunny summer background

You might think that dressing up your dog is a silly idea but the truth is that a winter coat can make a great deal of difference to the comfort of your pet. You can even find waterproof gear for walks on wet days. It may take a while for them to take to their new wardrobe, but they’ll be warmer and drier when it counts the most.

When choosing a coat, be sure to get one that is snug and warm. Make sure to use the size guide and measure your dog so that you can select the size that will provide the best fit. Also, be aware of how the coat fastens, for example with studs, buttons or zippers, and/or whether you dog will need to step into it or you will have to pull it over your dog’s head. Whichever method is quicker, easier and less stressful for both you and your dog will work best!

See our Top 10 Winter Products For Dogs if you’d like to see some dog coat suggestions.


Keep up their exercise routine (even if you’re not motivated to)

Your dog may find it hard to get up and leave the house during the winter months, but it’s important to keep up their exercise routine despite their reluctance. Motivating them to go outside and get exercise in the dead of winter can be a tough task, especially if they’re already sensitive to the cold.  However, you really should try to stick to their regular walks, even though it may be frosty or raining outside.

Apart from dressing them in a warm doggy coat, you may need to provide a little more stimulation than usual to get them out the door. Consider luring them with treats if necessary, or buying a new toy and playing interactive games with them at the dog park. They’ll soon cheer up when their blood starts pumping and, if you’re equally reluctant to venture out in winter, exercising the dog is a great way to keep yourself active and fit.


Watch their food intake & adjust if necessary

Persian or Chinchila cat eating vegetable in owner hand

Pets that spend a lot of time outdoors in the cold may require more food during the winter, because as the body tries to warm itself, it needs more energy to do the job. This is particularly true for pets that sleep outside.

Indoor pets’ bodies don’t need to work nearly as hard to keep warm. Plus, if they are getting less exercise during winter, they are expending fewer calories and will most likely put on weight if they continue to eat the same amount. So, they may require less food during the winter months.

If you maintain or increase your pet’s food intake through winter, make sure to exercise them regularly in order to burn the excess calories. Obesity is a serious problem in pets, and winter is a time that’s notorious for weight gain in many pets, so keep a close eye on their weight and adjust their portion size if the number on the scale starts to creep up. Discuss this with your vet if you’re unsure or want advice specific to your pet.


Schedule a health check-up

Vet examining dog and cat. Puppy and kitten at veterinarian doctor.

It’s so important to make sure your pet is healthy during the cooler months, especially if they’re older or they’ve got an existing health condition. Often, a timely check-up could save you serious worry down the track.

Your pet may appear a little more lethargic during winter but lethargy is also a common symptom for a number of pet health conditions. To be on the safe side, even if your dog or cat doesn’t appear to be slowing down this winter, take them to the vet at least once per year to be sure everything is in order.


Brush up your grooming routine

Professional cares for a dog in a specialized salon. Groomer holding brush at the hands near the dog. Woman combing fur of the maltipoo dog.

To ensure your pet’s skin and coat remain healthy all year round, it’s important to keep up their grooming routine right through winter. Dogs should continue to have their hair cut as necessary, depending on their coat type. Long coats may look warm, and you may be tempted to let them grow through winter, but this can cause problems. Some longer coated breeds will grow very long hair if they are not trimmed regularly and, even if it looks warmer for the animal, knots, tangles and matting cause discomfort and may lead to the coat having to be clipped shorter – and cooler – than in summer.

Indoor heating and reduced humidity can cause dry skin for some pets, which may require additional grooming and moisturising during the winter months. Regular brushing is important because it helps to distribute the natural oils through the coat, which keep the skin moisturised and healthy. Leave-in conditioners for pets can help to sooth itchy dry skin, while omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may help to improve flaky skin (these may be obtained through the diet or supplements).

While a wash once in while may be necessary, shampoos can cause the skin and coat to dry out. Combined with the drier weather, excessive shampooing can add to skin woes. Try to bathe your pooch no more than once a month with a gentle shampoo that is specifically for pets. Make sure the water is at Goldilocks temperature – not too hot and not too cold.

Both dogs and cats should have their nails properly cut.


Ensure they’ve got a warm, comfy spot to rest

Sleeping orange cat in cat bed

You may find that your pet will do a lot more resting during winter. The cold tends to slow all of us down and, even though they’re animals, it’s important to make sure they’ve got a nice comfy place to lay their heads.

If your pet is sleeping outside, this is even more essential. Take a look at our kennel guide to ensure you’re making the right choice when it comes to buying a dog house and fill it with plenty of warm blankets and cushions or a special dog mattress. Our Top 10 Winter Products guide will help you with some bedding recommendations.

For indoor pets, a nice cosy place that isn’t in a draft is perfect. Look at getting them a nice comfortable and roomy bed for those chilly winter nights. A corner is great for staying warm, and cats will love a bit of height for their night spot.

Winter doesn’t have to be a cold and miserable season. In fact, if you go to the effort to keep your pet warm and happy through winter, you’ll find that you can help each other to feel more energised and less ‘blue’ during the big freeze.


A pet insurance policy with Bow Wow Meow will help ensure you can always afford to give your pet the best treatment through winter and year round.




This article is written by

Nicky Klugman

Nicky is our Marketing Communications and Content Specialist. She is an animal-lover who is particularly interested in animal behaviour and the relationships between humans and their pets. While growing up, dogs were always an integral part of the family. Nicky is mum to three human sons and a rescue pup called Dobby.

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*Please note, any pet insurance advice provided is general only. Refer to the applicable Product Disclosure Statement for details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover.