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 have 3 dogs and a cat. I don't belive in shaving them down to the skin, but I do give them short haircuts. I bath them 2 times a month and have been doing this for years. The dogs love being bathe, 2 bichons and a poodle. The are always clean and become very energetic after their baths. Curley hair dogs in my oponion need that extra groom, they get mattered easy. Their private part especially need to be clean. My cat gets shaved two times a year and gets a bath. Keeping her clean stops the hair getting in her throat and vomiting. It also keeps the danfrift to a minamal. I think you know what is best for your animals. Common sense. Shaving your dogs and then leting them sit in the heat is plane stupidity. A good grooming is healthy for your animals, shaving down to the skin is not a good idea.


I rescued a bearded collie about a year and a half ago and she was full of mats and had to be clipped down. Ever since then her hair has grown twice as thick as before so in the summer I shave her down quite a few times (#5 blade, usually) because she is miserable with that thick coat. She's always so happy with her hair shorter (especially when I train her in agility for an hour a week and she's cooler for her daily walk).. Her hair always grows back out just fine for the winter.


As a groomer of over 40yrs I have shaved many a dog in 90 degree weather.Their coat is NOT an insulation. Once you get that hair off you can feel the heat on their bodies under that fur.It is a myth that it is no good for them to be shaved or that it will ruin their coats.


I recently got a Himalayan Persian cat from a friend who is in the hospital.. I don't know much about the breed but the long hair is not something i've had to deal with before so i decided to get it trimmed (not shaved) to help with mats and keep it easier for him to groom himself... i didnt really do it because of the heat... should i have him trimmed in the future? the article says no but pet owners say its fine for dogs. He's so much cuter with short hair (and less shedding!) but if its somehow not good for him - i want whats best for him. He doesn't go out in the sun much - hes an inside cat and although i try to do some brushing i admit i'm not very diligent about it (he hates it). We live in California - its very mild temperature wise... what should i do in the future???


Been a groomer for 35 years. Yes, chows, poms, shelties, malamutes, german shepherds, and generally dogs that have "fur" should not be shaved. Day to day grooming, brushing/combing is the answer. Or just regular trips to the groom shop. Groomers would rather give you a discount for a frequent pet, rather than charge for a pet that is long overdue. The regular routine of going to the groomer is easily accepted by the pet and less stressful for everybody.

The will allow the pet loose all the hair he doesn't need in order to maintain correct body temp. If that still doesn't work then consider the "summer cut". I cringed every time somebody asked me to shave any of those breeds. I personally shaved my chow, and wherever the blade clipped the hair ...never grew back correctly.

Pets that have "hair" (where the hair grows like human hair) these dogs need the "clipping" and styling to keep them from becoming over grown and a matted mess. Cockers, poodles, schnauzers, shi tzu's, llasas, bichons, etc. are the most common. However, these guys need to be combed and brushed as well to keep them from becoming tangled and knotted up. There comes a point of no return from a dog that is "matted", consequently, they haved to be cut down and start all over.

Cats are a whole 'nother story. But again, the brush and comb if you have a long hair. Good food, and coat care is the answer. Regular handling and routine grooming and trips to the groom shop/vets office when they're just kittens is the answer. Mostly for social conditioning so the cat isn't overwhelmed and becomes hysterical.

Use the professionals....they have the training and experience. Remember the bottom line is that they are doing this kind of work because we truly love the pets and the work. The bad apples eventually just don't stick around.

Denise LeMay

I have an older Chihuahua/Pekingese who has certain skin maladies. I shave her on average of every 45 days and she fares MUCH better than if I leave her coat lengthy. Her long blonde hair is lovely, but in an effort to relieve her discomfort, I opt to closely clip her, which she loves. Also, to the touch, she is the hottest dog I've EVER encountered. This could be another reason that she loves to be clipped. It provides coolness to her skin as well as relief from the skin condition, and it makes the task of bathing her (with medicated shampoo) and applying her medication much easier, allowing more surface contact with her skin.


Any suggestions on grooming a shepherd? I am a new owner of a rescue shepherd. He is shedding horribly. I brush and comb daily. Is there a way to get more hair out with brushing so it doesn't fall out so excessively?

Darla Larance

What do I do to protect my Pom when due to her illness all her hair fell out. How can I protect her fro the heat & the cold when I have to put her outside to go to the restroom? I put tshirts on her in the heat and sweaters on her in the cold and do not put her out but for short periods of time. Do u have anymore suggestions?


Does anyone else think that the idea of a coat providing insulation from outside heat is counterintuitive? A dog's normal body temp is 101.5, much hotter than most places get in the summer. Insulation stops the flow of heat, meaning that it would stop the heat from leaving a dog, and not vice versa.
I find that most dogs act MUCH more comfortable in summer when their coats are cut short. Put a winter coat on yourself in the middle of a hot, humid day and see if it "insulates" you by "keeping the heat out".