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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1.) The idea that humans don't wear many layers of clothes to keep COOL is FALSE! Humans living in the desert in Asia wear MANY layers of clothing, and DON'T sweat! The key is DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE SUN is HOTTER than being veiled/clothed in loose fitting garments! I KNOW! I used to wear SHORTS all the time in the hot seasons, and now I prefer pants and LONG skirts, because direct sunlight is WAY HARSH on UNCOVERED skin! PLUS, I SUNBURN LIKE IT WAS MY JOB!
2.) A dog is NOT a human! STOP PROJECTING YOUR DISCOMFORT on your dog! Talk about a COMMON MISCONCEPTION! The ASPCA is RIGHT in this case, and that that I am AGAINST other policies of animal health of theirs.
4.) I FIRMLY BELIEVE in ALL aspects of NATURAL MEDICINE and ORGANIC FOODS! It is a COMMON MISONCEPTION that a dog gets bugs JUST because they are outside and/or have long coats! Feed your DOG BETTER FOOD, NATURAL AND ORGANIC, and I guarentee with a LEGITIMATELY HEALTHY NATURAL DIET, you won't need to shave anything in any weather! The dog will be HOLISITCALLY BETTER! The so-called "comfort" they experience after such NONSENSE is TEMPORARY. And, like MOST Western medicine, ONLY CURES THE SYMPTOMS! The LONG TERM EFFECTS ARE MUCH WORSE!


Oh, and my point is REALLY... JUST BECAUSE WESTERN MEDICINE (ie: These so-called "animal doctors" w/ pase 1950's medical ideas!) think it works, DOESNT MEAN ANYTHING!... Look to Eastern Medicine philosophies, or JUST BE NATURAL (which means LEAVE YOUR DOGS HAIR ALONE, except for BRUSHING!)... for REAL, LOGICAL, and HEALTHY answers!



(Now, hopefully I'll be able to sleep toight!)


They have hair, not fur, and it grows like human hair.

Myra Clements

I have a mixed breed terrier who gets groomed about every 3 months. I have noticed that after grooming, she has difficulty walking for 3-4 days after her grooming. This time has been the worst. She is on prednisone for a couple of days to see if this helps ( it seems to). She has cerebellar abiotrophy and normally has difficulty walking but after grooming, it seems that her back legs don't want to get her standing up and moving. On Wed. when I had her groomed, she could do nothing for herself. Now on Saturday, she is a little better. Since I just had back surgery 3 weeks ago, I am not supposed to lift more than 10 lbs. and trying to take her out for potty has been a real problem. Has anyone else ever had a problem like this? If so, what was your solution. Someone has suggested that the harness used to hold her upright during grooming is possibly the problem. Any thoughts would be appreciated.


When dogs are groomed, they have to stand still in one position for a length of time. The bigger the dog... the longer it stands. Also, if dogs are not a good citizens on the table, then many groomers will string them up tight so that they don't move.

It sound like grooming is physically taxing on your dog. I think your groomer should try experimenting with having the dog sit, stand and lie in different positions during grooming. If your dog is not trained to stand, sit, and lie quietly on the grooming table, then you have some homework to do.


I totally disagree with this article. Each dog owner knows what is best for his or her animal. I work for a vet and have been shaving my 2 mastiffs during the summer every year for 11 years. They both love it. I have had no regrowth problems or skin problems. As for the insulation in your house reference- go spend some time up in your attic in the middle of summer and see how cool you are!


I am surprised not to see one Shih Tzu on here :) I have my shih Tuzs trimmed VERY short, but never shaved. You can't see their skin, they are just too darn cute when their hair is that short! I love it when they are fluffy too, but when it is hot, they pant so hard, and one it soooo fat her belly nearly drags the ground (so unhealthy I know :( ) But when I get their hair trimmed that short they are able to enjoy being outside longer without having to lay down and pant relentlessly. We live surrounded by woods and fields with lots of acreage so they have lots of room to explore and play, and it is wonderful to see them do that in the summer! Although, at night they DO like to sleep under the covers with us since they get chilly LOL another benefit to trimming hair!!! Thank you for all of the advice here, it is wonderful to know where to find great tips on our babies!!!


I've worked with dogs for a lifetime, am a firm believer in natural/holistic health and healing, and although there are very specific instances where a dog MUST be shaved (medical procedures, bad skin conditions, etc.), there is no basis AT ALL for shaving a dog. Trimming is one thing, SHAVING is another, (yes, there is a very distinct difference), and that is what we are discussing here. Granted, trimming/shaving wouldn't happen at all in nature, and only irresponsibility on the owners part will contribute to a need for drastic hair reduction/removal. We brush our own hair on a daily basis, and as a pet owner, we have the same responsibility for our pets hair, as they are our dependents and cannot care for themselves. Most domestic dogs are kept indoors, therefore, for better or worse, they are constantly acclimated. No domestic dog should be left completely exposed to the elements, and should always have somewhere to escape the heat/cold. We humans constantly think WE know what's best for an animal w/o properly educating ourselves first, & often make decisions which, whether to our knowledge or not, contribute negatively to our animals health/comfort, often over the long term. Just because an action makes our lives more simple, or cut's corners on our responsibility as pet owners, does not make it right, nor does it make it a healthy decision for our pets.


I have a rescued puppy mill Sheltie and she has many allergies, including very sensitive skin reacting to any kind of bite. I've had her clipped down (puppy trim) the past 2 summers, and it has made it so much easier to apply the cream to stop her itching. Her hair grows back every fall. If she did not have a medical condition I would not have had her clipped. She is my 4th sheltie and I'd never had any of the others trimmed.

Twiller Collick

I just gave my dog worming medication when should i give him more. His stools are loose

Twiller Collick

I just gave my dog worming medication when should i give him more. His stools are loose