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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.

Comments

Comments

january

I'm courious ... my sister & B-in-law clipped their 3/4 wolf hybrid down to 1 inch for the 2nd time. Where they live it can be 100 in the summer and she loves to roll around in the red dirt. It seems like her coat is getting longer and more dense each year! I dont think they really care if her coat grows back and isn't as esthetically pleasing. They just want her comfortable.

Deana

Those of you that are saying your dogs acts happier when you shave it: Haven't you noticed that your dog acts like that any time they are given a bath? My dogs run around crazy just from a bath. It has nothing to do with shaving off their hair, which you SHOULD NOT do!

Jacque

I have two Pom's and last year, in May, had the groomer give them lion cuts, with their backs about 1 inch long. It worked great at first, but their hair started to grow back very quickly. By August their hair was really coming in and it was still very hot. So having had a poodle that we used to clip, I thought we could do it ourselves. I started with my young pom and was having problems with the clippers, ended up clipping him back to a "shaved" state. When I did my older Pom, I was very careful not to do that again, so I got it to about 2 inches in the back. Well to make a long story short, the older Pom's hair grew back, in good time before winter set in, however, my young Pom's hair did not grow in until one year later. I did not know not to shave a double coated dog back that far. He had to wear a sweater in the winter so as not to get sick. They are both indoor dogs, but anyone that shaves a double coated dog is at a risk to have a "hairless" dog, so be very careful. I will never cut my young Pom again. But be sure to brush your long hair pets regularly, it does help them at all times of the year.

Its an owners right to chose if they want to shave their pets. but Owners are NOT professional groomers. Pet owners please DO NOT try to groom & shave your pets yourself!! You can badly hurt your pet! There is razor burn, torn or ripped skin! Multiple things can happen. Contact your vet or a local grooming salon & have a trained professional do it!!
Shannon Cole
Shannon's Pet Sitting
"Quality Pet Care In The Comfort Of Their Own Home"
P.O. Box 755
Carpentersville, IL 60110
PHONE: (847) 987-4322
WEBSITE: http://www.shannonspetsitting.net

Melissa

I have a golden retriever and I work at a grooming shop. living in tx there are terrible burrs. I have had him clipped/shaved. not down to the skin mind you but clipped short enough to where i can manage the burrs in his hair. he only goes outside long enough to potty and roll once or twice, lol.But that is enough to get burrs caught in his hair and sometimes they have to be cut out so clipping him in the summer is a good choice for us. he seems to feel better after having his hair cut.

Carrie

I completely disagree with this article. As a groomer of 12 years and having groomed in different climates I absolutely feel that removing that thick coat during hot summer months helps our furry friends. Many of these dogs originate in cool climates and their coats are designed to protect them from snow. While I personally have no preference as to wether I spend my day blowing out long coats or stripping them short I based my opinion off years of seeing pets respond positively to getting rid of their thick coats and hearing owners tell me "Wow I wasn't sure clipping the hair off would help but my pet was SO HAPPY and I could tell was much cooler after being shaved." I think too many dogs suffer in hot climates and I think it's sad. You will need to put sunblock on your pet for the first two weeks after being clipped but then he will have enough coat to protect his skin. Always provide shade and water for our furry friends and y'all stay cool

Carol

I'm sorry I have to disagree here with the vet, I know shearing down to the skin in the middle of summer with an outside dog would allow the dog to overheat and sunburn, but I know for a fact they are more comfortable with the hair off, down to say 1/2". There energy level is so much better and they are cooler. I also have llamas here in TX and I will tell you it is animal abuse to not shear them, watching one die of heat stress is terrible, because the owner has not sheared it early in the year. They cool themselves much like dogs, foot pads and open mouthed breathing. They need some hair to protect the skin and keep the sun off the skin, but saying they (llama or dog)need all that long hair causes summer to be the worst kind of season for any animal with long hair. Brushed or not, undercoat removed or not. If it does not grow back to it's original glory and that bothers a person, perhaps they need a shorter haired dog in the first place, or just make sure their dogs have AC 24/7 during the hot months, they will still probably be hot but not miserable.

Deb

I live in Texas and I have my Lab shaved every summer. Not so short he looks like a "hair-do gone wrong", but just enough to shorten the coat and keep him cool. He loves it and I do it about every 6-8 weeks in the summer. It really cuts down on the shedding when he is in the house during the summer months. In the winter his coat comes back full and keeps him warm when he swims in the freezing water.

deb

Since when is it 102.5 degrees outside which is a dog's body temp. It is insulating the dog's heat in and not allowing radiant cooling or not alonging the water to the skin when you wet them down. Bad advice.

Michelle Sutton

I too believed I should not shave my long haired mini doxies. Each summer they refused to do any exercise and gained weight. I took them out at 9 and 10 pm and they were still panting. As soon as I shaved them they were so much happier. We still go for walks late at night in the summer, but now they actually enjoy their walk. I may not a vet, but I am an attorney so I feel I am not a complete idiot. I think everyone has to do what is best for their dogs. My dogs are also in door dogs so no chance of sun burn or hearst stroke. Mine prefer to be shaved.

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