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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No, No, No! Brushing & using a furminator type comb. It pulls out the naturally shedding hair.

norman west

the hair may never grow back and if it does, it will not be soft,,,,also shaving removes the pee string on male poms and that NEVER grows back....had my dogs first groom about 5 yrs ago from a
professional moron groomer who cut off his pee string when the jerk asked me if I wanted his private area cleaned was my first dog and did not understand what that would entail and she never offered...she should have cleaned her pvt area instead...he was shaved between his legs down to his pink flesh and was in agony from it and cried and scratched for 6 months....
now years later I use a mobile groomer which is a pleasure to have and he uses a shedding tool and a nice bath....I have a fenced yard so when we go out, I keep an eye on him and we go in as soon as he stands at the front door and he has a cool drink...

if you are outside, keep dogs in shade with cold water with ice added or stay inside......


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I greatly appreciate your time and consideration in this matter I love dog and cat

Priscilla Evans

I really think these doctors don't know what they are talking about. I had a Collie that I had shaved every summer. He was a lot happier, after he went thru his embarrassment stage, and I felt he was better off. I have a Golden Retreiver that will be getting shave down to about 2 inches this weekend.


One of my dogs is a black Standard Poodle. You can be sure that she gets her hair clipped every couple of months, no matter the season. We share our home with a BullMastiff as well. No shaving or clipping for him, unless you include claws. Our third dog is a Peruvian Hairless dog. He has hair only on the tips of his tail and his toes, and he sports a natural mohawk. His skin is warm to the touch. He can sunburn. He wears a sweater in the winter. Stays in during intense sunlight. He has no protection from cuts and scrapes or mosquito bites (except for his preventative). He is very allergic to environmental things like grass and bugs. He sometimes gets skin infections. His doctor tells us that dogs with fur would have some of the same skin flaws under their fur, but who would ever know? Anyway, nothing about a dog without fur is easy, excepts baths. Baths are a total breeze.
We once had a little dog that was a terrier mix who resembled a Pomeranian. She tangled with a skunk and large burrs. Our veterinarian suggested shaving herd Her coat was never the same again. To shave, or not to shave should be up to the pet parent and the "experts". (Just be careful to whom you grant the title.) It's hot out there during the summer!


I live in Alabama and trim my rottie and japanese chin down to 1/4" every summer(japanese chin stays trimmed due to skin problems, she wears coats in the winter). After being trimmed, they both prance. My rottie acts like a puppy again; bouncing off the walls and wagging his nub so much that his whole body wiggles. The only problem that I ever have with trimming them is when you go over certain spots, their legs start kicking and you have to wait until their legs stop before making a complete pass. I guess it depends on your dog.


I forgot to add...I save the hair and put them by my plants to keep deer away and the birds use it to make nests also.


I had my collie shaved every summer. She never had a problem with her hair growing back just as lovely as ever over 13 years.


My son & I adopted our Golden Boy right before Christmas 2 years ago. I've always had spaniels or dobies before him. My son watched Homeward Bound and had his heart set on a Golden. He was fine during the winter and part of the spring. However, as summer approached and the temperatures rose, he couldn't stop panting. Last summer, I gave him a good trim--especially his belly. He was finally able to rest without the constant panting. I partially trimmed him up again this year, but alas, I have only a regular set of human clippers. I can't wait to get the professional ones I've ordered online so he can be comfortable again. Today, the temperature here in Oklahoma City reached 107 and we won't be below triple digits until perhaps the end of next week. As I type this message, it is still 92 degrees and it is just before 11pm.
As for those of you subscribing to the Global Warming drama...It is actually "Global Change". While I understand the wish to keep the thread limited to pets, this is a possible venue to reach someone and perhaps help them to consider steps they can take to improve the state of the environment.
There are many scientific, unbiased sites you can visit to get your info. I strongly suggest avoiding any of the news sites or news papers because the information there will be biased. I recommend peer-reviewed journals to get your information. As for my belief, as an environmental scientist by trade who is engaged with a wide variety of scientists from different backgrounds and areas of expertise, you would be hard pressed to find ones who no longer believe that humans are not affecting environmental change. Will you find some who do? Of course you will. However, the majority realize through experimentation, data, and modelling that it is real. As we have played a part in the cause, we can also be a part of the solution by making concious changes in our lifestyles that are easy to make. Recycle and keep what you discard out of the waste stream. Repurpose items you no longer need by donation or changing them into something you can use. Make a compost pile and let worms eatyour vegetative waste to create an awesome soil amendment for your garden. Brush your pet's hair and put the hair out in your yard for birds to use in their nests. There is so much we can do. Every small action added together can have an enormous affect on our world.


I wonder if Dr. Louise Murray can actually quote any studies that have compared heat tolerance in shaved vs. unshaved dogs. I doubt it. This is the kind of urban ledgend that gets passed around, even by vets. Anyone who actually works with dogs (show, Obedience, Agility, Tracking, Hunt etc) will tell you that less hair = a more comfortable dog in the heat. Would I shave an Aussie or a Golden.... probably not because I think it ruins the look of the dog. However, I've personally seen the difference over the years between a Poodle in full show coat and a Poodle clipped down in a short trim. There is NO comparison... the Poodle in long coat is just plain hot!