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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

Jaclyn

Please re-read the article. They said not to SHAVE, they DID however reccommend trimming/clipping. There is a HUGE difference. Trimming typically leaves a small amount of fur, shaving removes it entirely. And some of the commentors are right, some breeds of dog simply don't regrow their fur properly. We would trim our American Eskimo's fur down, but they're one of the breeds that don't regrow when shaved. And I know there is one breed that when the fur does grow back, it's discolored. I can't remember the name, however.

Val Tisdel

Clipping is not shaving. you're leaving the undercoat.

M. Doram

Gail,
This is not misinformation! I am so relieved to see this here because I have been telling my clients this for years. It's not wearing a wool blanket - it's like taking the insulation out of the walls in your house. The undercoat protects them from heat and cold. You can clip a dog and leave a 1" length, keeping the undercoat, and the dog may feel lighter, but hot is hot - and dogs do not sweat through their skin. The undercoat acts like a thermostat, so the dog grows and sheds it as needed. Shaving a dog close to the skin can make them feel the heat and sun MORE, in addition to the chance that the hair won't grow back the same.

pamela

I agree this is bad advice and have heard it several times before. I live in a hot dry climate but every time I have failed to have one of my dogs with a very thich coat, shaved in the summer, it has been horrible for that dog. They are much happier and more energetic when the thick coat comes off.

Tara

Im a dog groomer and I have to tell over 10 people a day about the dangers of shaving dogs in the summer. I am so sick of hearing people say "but shes panting" or "hes really hot". Shaving dogs in the heat is a bad idea, especially if they are outside alot. They are at a high risk of heat stroke with their fur gone. If you are going to get your dog a haircut I would suggest not going shorter than 3/4 of an inch. If its a longer haired breed such as a golden, chow, husky etc...try getting them a furminator bath to release the undercoat but leave their regular coat alone. If you absolutely feel that you need to shave your dogs there are two things you should do. First, apply dog sunblock before you go on your daily walks and second, keep them indoors until it grows back. Thank you ASPCA for getting this important information out here. There are alot of naive pet parents out there. Dogs 101 show also had this information in the episode with the samoyed that I was happy to see aired. Great Job!!!

sandra

I'm also a groomer and totally agree. Thank you for taking the high road and not attacking others for their comments.

Fran

Great advice! When people think dogs are suffering because of their natural hair it is non-sense. Animals evolved this way and humans impose their neurosis on their pets. The dog's skin is exposed more and prone to being burned by sun. I've felt a dog with purposely shortened coat temperature compared to one left with natural coat and the difference is amazing. The dog shaved down is hotter ALWAYS. Please ASPCA continue to spread the truth regardless of who sends you donations. ASPCA is founded on principles of preventing cruelty. The above article is a perfect example of the Society's mission.

Mary

I am so thankful that you are getting this information out to the public. I had no idea that this was not good for my golden(Molly). From now on she will only get trimmed and I will use the furminator. Thanks!

James Barlow

We have a St. Bernard who could not survive if we did not clip her down in the summer. Did the same to our prior Old English with absolutely no problems.

l papania

i have an 8lb Maltese. I comb her every other night & I very carefully clip the mats I find between groomer visits. Why is this NOT recommended? Please & Thank you! (Your hot weather tips make sense & I appreciate it.

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