Heat Wave! Should You Shave Your Pet?

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 11:45am

Nearly everywhere in America, this summer is a scorcher, and we know that as a responsible pet parent, you want to do everything you can to keep your best four-legged friends cool. So when you look at your Pomeranian, Golden Retriever or long-haired cat wearing a thick, fluffy coat, you might feel tempted to break out your grooming tools and give him a serious hair cut.

But hold those clippers! While you or I would hate to sport a fur coat in 100-degree weather, your pets’ fur coats are actually providing them with heat relief.

“A dog’s coat is kind of like insulation for your house,” explains Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. “Insulation stops your home from getting too cold in winter, but it also keeps it from overheating in summer—and your dog’s coat does the same thing.”

Dogs’ coats have several layers, and these layers are essential to your dog’s comfort in the heat. Robbing your dog of this natural cooling system can lead to discomfort and overheating. And keeping your dog cool isn’t the only reason to leave his coat intact, Dr. Murray warns. Your dog’s coat prevents your pup from getting sunburn and helps protect her from skin cancer.

So what can you do? “It’s OK to trim your long-haired dog’s long hair, such as any hair that hangs down on his legs,” Dr. Murray says. Just never attempt to clip mats off your pet’s coat with scissors, Dr. Murray adds. And if you’ve got a long-haired kitty, leave her coat intact. Instead, brush her a little more frequently during the hot summer months.

To protect your pet from sunburn and skin cancer, save longer walks for evenings, and consider applying pet-specific sun block to thinly covered areas like the bridge of your dog’s nose, the tips of his ears and his belly, Dr. Murray suggests, noting that pets with thin coats, as well as those with white or light-colored coats, are especially at risk for sun damage.

Of course, pet parents should remember to keep pets inside with plenty of water during hot days—hydration is key! For more important information on summer pet care, visit our Hot-Weather Tips.



Cilly Jordan

We have a 3/4 wolf mix/malamute. We have shaved her every summer, sometimes more than onc ein the summer as we live in Texas. Her coat has always grown back just as full and beautiful and she is now 11 1/2 years old without bug or cancer problems. She always perks up after being shaved and when she isn't and it's hot she is so labored she won't get up and move around at all. For her comfort and because we care about her, we shave.


I agree with you too. I have a 7 year old Border Collie/Australian Shepard mix and I've had her shaved down the last few summers...sometimes 3 times in a summer. She's happier, I'm happier with less hair floating around. I've had groomers say that it may not grow back the same. Who Cares I tell them. I'm not entering her in a beauty contest...but guess what. it always grows back the same. Don't believe everything you read. We know what our dogs like.


no... she is laying around to regulate temp...she is sitting in her own AC, that u then shave off. she doesnt lay around bc she cannpt stay cool

Melissa Dore

My Golden Retriever has/had the thickest coat my groomer had ever seen and we made the decision to give him a hair cut this summer - not shaving, but cutting. He developed some health problems, and went through an extensive list of diagnostic tests some of which required his belly to be shaved down to the skin. Turns out he has Cushings Disease, and his hair is not growing back . . . he looks ridiculous with that bare belly and bald patch on his leg from all the blood tests. Hope he gets some of it back by winter!


I totally agree with Steve's comment. Carl, Global warming is a fact but whether man-caused or not is still a subject that is being debated by scientists. The part of CO2 that man is responsible for in the environment is less than .1% All this nonsense is causing pricing to rise for many products and all for not. So we make it impossible through regulations to use our own coal and guess what? We aren't using it but China is. So we export our natural resource to China where they don't follow any EPA regulations and use our cheap resource. How does that help our environment. So stick to dogs and forget trying to link global warming with dogs coats.


Well said Linda ;)


Yes, global warming.


Yes, global warming.


Yes, global warming.


Go figure .. the person questioning Global Warming is from TN ... I moved here 6 years ago ... like living in the dark ages in the SE ...