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Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Shave Your Pet

Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 12:00pm
Golden retriever wearing red collar

It’s hot out there! And if your Golden Retriever or long-haired kitty seems to suffer when the mercury rises, you might feel some temptation to break out your grooming tools and give your pets a full shave-down. We get where you’re coming from.

But wait! Put down those clippers! According to experts, you’ll be doing your pet a disservice. Here’s why:

  1. 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, Senior 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.

  1. Your dog’s coat prevents your pup from getting sunburn and helps protect her from skin cancer.

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.

  1. There are better ways to manage your pets’ coats to keep them cool: trimming and brushing.

“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.

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. Stay cool out there!

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Brian

Dogs do not sweat. They manage heat by panting and through the pads in their paws. They also cool by laying on a cool surface: grass, linoleum/marble floor, or dig a hole and lay down in it to cool off.

patte purcell

I TOTALLY agree with you!

PJ-animal lover

As several people have already pointed out to Dale, dogs do NOT sweat & therefore cannot cool themselves in that fashion as we humans do. They decrease their body temperature through their paws & by panting. So if your dog is too hot it would be more helpful for you to dip her paw pads in cool water or some rescues even advise sponging the paws with alcohol which evaporates more quickly 7 therefore cools more rapidly.

Joe Ratliff

I totally disagree with this article. I lost my beloved dog "Rusty" 3 years ago. For the entire 15 years of his life and the 15 years of my other wonderful dog, "Buddy", I would have them shaved every summer. It never caused them any problems and I know it not only made them more comfortable, but helped to extend their lives since they were both big dogs with long hair. Their breathing and respiration rates would drop dramatically after the hair cuts. I would also apply block out to vulnerable areas exposed to the sun and give them cooling hose showers on a regular basis.

Eva

I have an elderly Angora rabbit. I rescued him aged 8 from a shelter here in Singapore where it's really hot all year round. Since shaving him he's had a new lease of life and runs and hops about with renewed interest in life. I will continue to have his coat removed...

Willis

I also disagree somewhat with the article. I have two longhair indoor cats and I have them shaved twice every summer and intend to keep doing so. They are definitely happier, and I don't think they will get sunburned indoors! Articles such as this don't seem to address indoor pets. My cats love being shaved and any owner who can't recognize when their pets are happier should not have pets.

Darrin Buswell

You are 100% right Willis. I shave my 2 long-haired indoor cats every spring. They are are more comfortable and relaxed. Also i do not have to pester them with grooming to remove mats which neither one of them are fond of. They are both senior.

Amanda Glew

Don't agree at all. As a practicing vet of 25 years, rarely have skin cancer, and find a shaved dog is much more comfortable. However, we treat many cases of maggots, hotspots and overheating from dogs who keep their coats. If owners are not going to have their dog groomed properly, then SHAVE in the summer!

Amanda Glew

Don't agree at all. As a practicing vet of 25 years, rarely have skin cancer, and find a shaved dog is much more comfortable. However, we treat many cases of maggots, hotspots and overheating from dogs who keep their coats. If owners are not going to have their dog groomed properly, then SHAVE in the summer!

Jennyfur

My Jap Chin gets shaved in summer only. He loves it! He also suffers from an allergy to a mite that only affects 5% of dogs, and the shaving actually helps the condition. Plus, it makes him absolutely adorable! Winter, he goes right back into gorgeous mountain lion coat mode!

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