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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.

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Zena

HELLO people. Eggs are bad for you, wait years later they are OK. Flouride is good for you, OH wait no its not. Remember as kids schools made u eat that red junk that showed plaque.....NOW THEY DONT.

Bottom line these carpet baggers just want headlines. I shave my dog and she loves it. Hello if your dog lays upside down to cool off and then you shave them they dont do it anymore......They are telling you thank you for shaving me.

If a dogs coat and layers are supposed to be there for insulation or a natural cooling system etc, well then why dont all dogs have the same length hair. Is this person saying naturally short haired dogs are screwed and long hair dogs are the norm.

Wait, let me think about this. Long hair on my head sure I get hot. Shaving my head or having short hair I feel better.

When I have my dogs shaved and she give me a kiss, it is money well spent and SHE LOVES IT.

I wonder why a cursury look I dont see the authors name of this article just the doctor interviewed. I wonder if they even own pets or are just rampling like me.

Would the authors like to put on a hairy gorilla suit and go outside and see if they feel better. Im sure when they are done sweating, they would be like wow less hair makes it easier to cool off.

As far as insulation in the house. Well lets look at this yes more insulation helps the inside stay cool...it keeps the cool in. Lets say you have a temperature of 70 degrees and your girlfriend burns dinner and left the oven on. Well first off the stink stays inside the house, the temperature rises and what do you do as instinct. You open the windows and doors to do what........LET THE STINK OUT AND HEAT OUT. ENUFF SAID.

Years ago when I was a kid dogs poop turned white after it sits outside. When is the last time you see white dog poop after it sat.

Times are a changing and this sound like an old wives tail.

I say shave your dog if you want.

Dont comment on my spelling in chat ebonics here.

M

Different breeds of dog are bred for different climates, hence different coat lengths.

amazing

Omg you solved the case. Everyone wants to kill your dogs. Aren't you a smart little cookie. The scientific evidence is all fake and you've saved.the world by shining your little flashlight on it because of white poo. You go girl!

Jamie

I have a sheltie, my best friend in the whole world. I clipped him a few months ago and he definitely feels a difference lying in front of the air conditioner or fan. My advice to all of you is to take your own advice. You know your breed better than this post from the ASPCA so do what you think is best.
Unless you think it's okay to take advice from someone else on how to raise your own child.

Marsha McDonald

Seems to me that people should just use common sense here. First of all, some of you seem SO angry over the article! Have an ax to grind with ASPCA?
My experience with shaving is that it can alter a dogs coat, or, in many cases it doesn't even grow back. I've seen this happen, and many groomers will advise people about this before they shave a dog. However, I DO CLIP one of my dogs - just not extremely short. I've only noticed that the hair growing back is a bit coarser than it once was. I have a pasture that she runs and plays in and she's continually picking up tons of stickers. That is the reason I do it. I only do it twice during the summer. And by the way, I do brush her coat frequently. But I can see where some breeds might be best left with their long hair. Bottom line is try to do what works best for your dog.

Melissa S Fuda

I've been a groomer for six years and I would never advise anyone to shave their double coated dog (huskys,shepherds,collies,pomeranians,Spitz's,etc) down in the summer. While it is well known that the thick coat keeps dogs warm in the winter it also acts as insulation from the heat and helps your dog to keep his or her body temperature regulated. There is a good chance too, that by shaving your double coated dog that the hair will change in texture or not grow back correctly, sometimes it doesn't grow back at all. Of course some of you will say that I'm lying because you shave your dog and it does grow back. It all comes down to the individual animal. Sometimes it only takes one shave to wreck a dogs coat and other times it happens suddenly after years of shaving. As a groomer and a pet owner myself I would like to say that all groomers, vets and the like want what's best for your pet but if no one has advised you of the risks of shaving your pet then they obviously only care about the large bill you pay them for their services. Aside from the heat of summer many people believe that shaving their dog helps them to shed less. WRONG. All shaving does is shortens the length of the hair that's shed making it more likely to cause hair splinters in you and your pet. If a shedding pet is your concern ask your groomer about a Furminator Shed-less treatment.

It is very important to keep your pet groomed and clean. However, good judgement must be used when it comes to shaving a dog's coat. I have grooming salon and customers come in regularly complaining about how hot their dog is and they want them shaved for summer. I counsel with them and give them my best advice. First of all, my shop will NEVER shave a dog to the skin (say #10 blade). We refuse to do it. We will recommend a longer shave, maybe a #5. This works well for retrievers, labs, short coat dogs. When you talk about Siberians, Pyrenees, dogs with double coats, you would never shave them - this calls for a Furminator Shed Less treatment and a nice trim. The dogs look fabulous afterward. Smaller dogs like Maltese, Shih Tzus, etc. should get a regular grooming as they would any other time of the year, maybe just a little shorter. PLEASE consider your pets feelings first before yours when making a decision about their summer cut. Happy Tails, Ranger Rita

Betsy Brower

I have always been a purist about NOT shaving dogs with thick coats, but recently I saw my employer's dog before and after shaving (he is a large breed that has HAIR and not fur) and it was clear to me that he is much more comfortable now, post shaving. He comes to work every day with us and he is more active, and playful and doesn't pant nearly as much as before. Interestingly, he enjoys being petted by humans more now because he can actually FEEL our hands and we feel like we are actually petting a dog and not a mop!

To all on this board: we live in the southwest. It is over 100 every day for at least 4 months in the summer. Either don't buy a dog that is meant for pulling dog sleds or doing work in Germany, upstate NY or Canada, or make sure he is comfortable. That may require shaving. And to the person who claimed that a woman with long thick hair doesn't get hotter in summer-um-wrong, buddy. I am one of those women. I have the salon thin the heck out of my hair and trust me, it is MUCH COOLER. Obviously, I'm not shaving my head!

Mel

Ok this article has me a little concerned now and I think I need some clarification no matter how stupid this question may be. I have three miniature schnauzer and groom them about three times a year with the basic schnauzer cut. They seem a lot happier and active without their long coats. Am I harming my dogs or does this type of cut not fall into the category of what the article is talking about? They stay inside most of the day and I only walk them in the evening after sundown. Thanks in advance!

Melissa

Because your dogs are not a double coated breed, putting them into their breed cut doesn't harm them. Just watch out for sunburn if you get the backs done super short!! Do remember that all pets benefit from regular grooming and as a groomer I recommend you have them done every six to eight weeks instead of three times a year, but how often you take them entirely depends on how much brushing and maintenance you do at home.

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