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.




I rescued a Greyhoud 6 yrs. ago. She's now 8. Her coat, what there is of it, is strawberry blond. Being that Greys have little hair and some places are bald, I apply Sunscreen EVERY time we go outside.


as a dog groomer, I have had this conversation with pet parents many times. For the most part, I agree with the ASPCA and never ever recommend shaving thick double coated dogs such as huskys, chows, or shepards. In many cases the hair does not grow back normally and it does remove their cooling insulation. I do however strongly recommend regular brushing especially for situations where the dog is blowing coat. That being said, for long haired dogs I do recommend shaving into a pet cut for maintenance reasons. If pet parents are not doing daily brushing for their long-haired friend, the increase in summer activities makes matting a genuine concern. However, if you do decide to shave your pet, sunscreen is a MUST when they are outdoors. You wouldn't let your child play outside without sunscreen, it is no different for your pet. And as an aside to the pet parents that notice a happier change in behavior after a shave- this could be for a multitude of reasons not attributed to heat levels. The grooming process is a pampering one and it is our job, no matter what the cut, to make your pet feel more comfortable after their spa day is done. Think of how great you feel after a manicure and blow out. Not to mention the fact that long or thick coated dogs may be masking a skin irritation due to dirt and grime in their coats. They are thoroughly scrubbed, brushed, manicured and loved at the salon. Wouldn't that put a little pep in your step too :)


I have a Pekingese and if I let her hair grow especially in hot weather she mopes around and won't do anything. Once she is shaved she is like a brand new dog racing around and very active. Also when I let her hair grow she gets fleas really bad where if she is shaved there are none. Everytime I took her to be groomed she had to have flea baths and now she is free of fleas. No more skin conditions. Alot of dogs are taken out of their natural habitat where weather conditions are different than what they were bred for so I don't agree with not shaving some breeds.


We shave our long haired miniature dachshund every summer, not only because we wanted to help keep her cool but because in our area tick are terrible and when her hair is shorter it is much easier to check her for them.

Jean Miley

I have a shish-tzu and a toy poodle i get them groomed very short for the summer. They seem to have alot more energy and happy. They go for a morning walk daily and go to the yard many times a day. I've never had any problems. I don't shave them i just get them cut very short and they are very happy

Gayla Yates-Gordon

I had a wolf-malamute for 16 years. She loved being shaved (2x) in the summer. She became listless in the heat, until after the 1st shave. Her winter coat always came back, beautifully. Now I have two Pomeranians and I wouldn't dream of taking off their coat, because I know too many Poms that have ugly fur after their shave grew in. However, I do shave their belly and feet. This seems to make them more comfortable and they seem to enjoy stretching out, belly down, on the tile floor, for extra coolness.


So many of you boast the breed of your dog. Where'd you get them? I hope from a breeder or people you know. If you are receiving these ASPCA emails, you must know by now that most pet stores get their dogs from puppy mills. Next time, I hope you'll consider a shelter mutt.


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......


My name is Margarita Colon. I am 28 years old with muscular dystropy. I am on a ventilator and I use a specialized wheelchair. I am seeking assistance in finding a college or an institute for persons with physical disabilities. I currently have 24 hour nursing services.

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