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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

Amy

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!

Misty

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!!!

earthocean

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.

Mimi

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

Twiller Collick

Is ther any place that gives shots free

ShadowDog

I agree that some long-haired dogs should definitely not be shaved. However, this example does not really fit - “A dog’s coat is kind of like insulation for your house,” explains Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of ASPCA Bergh Memorial 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.”

I don't know about you, but my house, although insulated, gets pretty darn cold in the winter without extra heating and pretty darn hot in the summer without some kind of cooling system. The insulation alone is not enough. I think it's the same with dogs. Some of them need a little extra help in keeping cool, but instead of being shaved, that might mean being in an air-conditioned house or being hosed down with cool water, maybe providing a child's swimming pool for them, and keeping lots of cool water available.

Carm

Had a beautiful Newfoundland told the groomer not to shave her down, she was messy as we got her from the rescue and had tangles asked them to do the best they could no shaving as it is not good for them they have blue skin and could kill them well she was shaved down when I picked her up and I lost her 2 weeks later from a heart attack caused by overheating in air conditioning. Leave their coats alone, trim if you must! The groomer we have listens and knew about Newfs!Thank heavens!

Kate

I have three dogs, a peke-a-poo, pekingnese and a teenie weenie chihuahua. The pekes both get puppy cuts all the time and they are cleaner, more comfortable and happy about it. They swim in the pool in summer and wear sweaters and coats and such (what wardrobes!) all winter. My chihuahua wears sweaters when it's cool and heavy wear when it's cold. She does not get groomed, but for shampoos and minor trunmming of her ears (BIG ears!!!) and tail, as she's long-haired (two pounds of cuteness.) I never had an issue with their haircuts, but they are not shaved to skin. Although, I did have a Sheltie and when he got old I goit him shaved...and it wasn't a good thing. :-( But he was messing himself and it seemed a good idea at the time.

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