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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.

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Fran

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".

hany

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Patti Teall

There's this beautiful himalayan that comes in my yard almost everyday, I don't know who he belongs to,but he has so many mat's and it hurts him. I would like to get him shaved , but I don't know what to do since he is not mine. What would you do????

felicia hernandez

OMG, THIS IS BAD?! ive been clipping my dogs hair for 11 years! he is a shizu mixed with poodle and is very very fluffy!! i ususally cut his hair very very short on the summer hot days... oh god shuld i get him checked for anything?!

samntha

my cousin has a dog like that she named him fluffy and he was white and for christmas they got a outfit at PET SMART and when it came to christmas he was santa claus LOL:O

Maltipoo mom

I have a maltipoo and he doesn't have "layers of coats" This article should address which types of dogs it is referring to. I agree with the comments on cutting the hair, my dog is miserable and panting and when he gets his haircut, he is so much better. His "coat" doesn't keep him warm in the winter either, he has to wear coats or he shivers and gets sick. There are too many breeds of dogs for this article to pertain to all of them.

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Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!
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Kathy C

Come on everyone. I'm a groomer and have had dogs all my life. Ask yourself this common sense question-if you ware a fur coat in the winter, will that insulate you from the heat or make you VERY uncomfortable. It's the same with your pet. Don't be fooled by the stuff above. My long and short hair dogs are shaved every year and their coat is gorgeous in the fall. Their dandruff problem has resolved and they are cool and comfortable. Heavy fur in the summer acting as insulation is simply nonsense. Use common sense and don't fall for something that makes no sense at all. Just sayin!

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