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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

Wanda

I totally agree that it is bad advice. I cut one of my dogs long fur a few days ago and she began to act like a different dog - lots of energy and loving to play. Also, the shorter fur makes it easier to notice external parasites.

I have cut the hair of other long haired dogs in the past. It always made a world of difference in their energy levels.

Lisa

I think it's a little irresponsible and dramatic for you to say that it's "cruel" to leave your dog's coat intact in hot weather. Wild dogs and wolves don't have the option of being groomed and they survive just fine. I would rather listen to my vet, who is a trained professional, and not shave my dogs in the summertime to protect them from everything the article states. However, dogs that are groomed short on a regular basis acclimate to not having a long coat. If you feel comfortable shaving your dog in the summer, that's fine - but to say that the ASPCA is spreading "thoughtless information" is ridiculous.

Emma (multi yea...

I've seen this advice and stuck to it for many years. All of the most reliable sources advise NOT to cut dog hair, IT IS INSULLATION to protect from cold and HEAT, and other protections, i.e. natural oils etc.! That's the way God created them, He doesn't make mistakes, WE DO!!! Please rethink!

Myke James

Firstly, to the person who stated that "god doesn't make mistakes/we do". THAT is your personal opinion!!
Not everyone believes in a god per se. There are myriad examples in nature of defects, and gross mistakes. They are usually taken care of in the wild by predator consumption, or early death because the specific unit of the species was not viable!!

We are the only animal who spends billions of dollars a year on keeping defective members of our species alive through articial means!!!

Other animals are smart enough to know that the weak, sick, and the old are a grave threat to the herd's survival and must be eliminated forthwith!! Either through predation, or outright culling within the herd!!

Because we humans are capable of hubris, we compromise our species everyday by keeping the weak and inferior alive!!! This is unnatural, and unsustainable!!!

We as a species will suffer greatly, for the last 80 some odd years, of "medical advances" and liberal social policy.

In the wild, the Excess get EATEN!!! Or the entire Herd Dies of Starvation!!

Bonnie

You know it is quite funny that I was just telling my husband the other day how it never ceases to amaze me the stupid things that fall out of mens' mouths. With your stupidity you would have me put my daughter who is 34yrs old down at birth because she was not born "perfect" or my mother down because she is 85. Seriously??? You state that we humans are compromising our species by letting these "outcasts" of yours live and yet the world today is more populated than ever. Go back to sleep, Myke and when you have something valuable to add to the conversation, do some research and then and ONLY THEN, make your comments. By the way I have a Pekeniese and we have shaved her every summer for years and we live in Florida. She is an inside dog and only walks twice a day for exercise and to do her "business".

sjb

Domestic dogs are the result of thousands of generations of selective breeding by humans, hardly the way God created them. As a result, many breeds have characteristics that are not natural or in any way beneficial to the dog's health and well-being.

Bobbie M

I couldn't agree more. This is a wives' tale. Years ago, I read an article that talked about their coats acting as insulation and asked my vet about it. He said it did act as insulation and also kept heat in as a fur coat would do for humans. He warned about sunburns but I'm careful not to shave them too closely and they are inside dogs. My two large shepherd mixes have gotten hair cuts for 10 years without issue. The fur on my older guy doesn't grow back as quickly now but he's much happier when he has short hair in the Missouri summer heat and I'm happy the shedding is reduced!

Jane

This article says nothing about leaving your pets fur untouched. Every pet owner should bathe and groom their furry friends. It simply states that dogs have fur to protect them from the environment. I agree, you should never shave a double coated dog or cat....that is why they shed. If you take a look at dogs and where they came from before we domisticated them, they were wild. Look at all the wild animals with fur that actually live outside. Think about it! They have fur for a reason...protection. I know that we love our pets and want to do our best by them, and yes summer is hot. And just because you're hot you think your pet is hot, but shaving them is not the answer. They were born with fur for a reason. Just take care of your pet with regular groomings....baths, trimming, and brushing. And always make sure they have plenty of water.

Kim

Ms. Holcomb, Guess what? You are not a dog and your dog is a fur covered animal. If their fur was meant only to keep them warm in cold temps., don't you think they would shed it all in the summer? Trust that nature is taking care of your dog and the doctors/scientists at ASPCA study the NATURE of all animal species(except for humans). Second to willful cruelty, projecting human comforts and desires onto pets has probably been the root cause of more premature deaths of pets and it borders on negligent abuse. In fact, I think it is abuse when you choose ignorance. A human comparison: Children don't like to wear helmets or use seatbelts because they're uncomfortable. We can relate to that. But informed, responsible adults still make them wear them, in spite of their complaining. And now it's the law because there were too many who chose ignorance and took the path of least resistance, costing lives and taxpayers. Would you continue to shave your dogs if there were laws against it? Maybe there should be...

sjb

You think domestic dogs are natural? If nature is taking care of all animals, why do we need vets? Why do you think nature takes care of all other animals, but not humans?

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