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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

Becky L

I will never understand how this "cooling effect" is supposed to work. A dogs body temp in summer is 102.2 F . I live in Alabama and humidity is also something to take into consideration. I have worked as a veterinary technician as well as in animal control and there is only a small percentage of people who own long haired dogs that actually brush them on a daily basis. There are no economic boundaries for this. I've seem very wealthy people who do not groom their dogs or take them to a groomer. Some very educated individuals who do not take care of their pets. I have shaved dogs for 20 plus years. Dogs seem relieved to get their hair shaved off. No only does it cool them, it is a matter of health and sanitation. Here in the south humidity is hard on all dogs. When you add all that hair it is a recipe for hot spots that go undetected under all that hair. Then come the maggots. Yes.... I've seen it a lot. Not to mention the flea and tick infestations. Ear infections and then you have the Matted smelly dog that no one pets. So it is a matter of health not just a pretty coat of hair.

Tabitha

i am a groomer and most double coated dogs like Alaskan Malamutes, Husky's, Pomeranians, and Shelties who have double coats need to be blown out with a high force dryer. Their hair becomes packed underneath the top coat which causes them to overheat (the air cannot get through the follicles to keep them cool). If you shave down a double coated dog there is a large chance that the hair will not grow back and if it does it won't be nearly as healthy as it would have been. Please consult a certified groomer and your breeds akc page. There are so many resources out there for pet owners. There are also many groomers like myself who will work with you on pricing because theist important thing is the health of your dog!!!!!

Tabitha

i am a groomer and most double coated dogs like Alaskan Malamutes, Husky's, Pomeranians, and Shelties who have double coats need to be blown out with a high force dryer. Their hair becomes packed underneath the top coat which causes them to overheat (the air cannot get through the follicles to keep them cool). If you shave down a double coated dog there is a large chance that the hair will not grow back and if it does it won't be nearly as healthy as it would have been. Please consult a certified groomer and your breeds akc page. There are so many resources out there for pet owners. There are also many groomers like myself who will work with you on pricing because theist important thing is the health of your dog!!!!!

Tabitha

i am a groomer and most double coated dogs like Alaskan Malamutes, Husky's, Pomeranians, and Shelties who have double coats need to be blown out with a high force dryer. Their hair becomes packed underneath the top coat which causes them to overheat (the air cannot get through the follicles to keep them cool). If you shave down a double coated dog there is a large chance that the hair will not grow back and if it does it won't be nearly as healthy as it would have been. Please consult a certified groomer and your breeds akc page. There are so many resources out there for pet owners. There are also many groomers like myself who will work with you on pricing because theist important thing is the health of your dog!!!!!

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