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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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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!

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!

Peggy T

Crazy! I have to shave my Cocker Spaniel. He would be a mess even with brushing him everyday. Shaving makes him not only beautiful, but clean and cool. I give him a show cut. When it is hot he stays in the air conditioned house. Comes out longer in the late afternoon by pool. Winter a jacket works just fine. No dog should be left out all day in any weather without access to home. Shave your dog and make him groomed and beautiful!

Kelly

I disagree....this article doesn't fully address various breeds as not all dogs have multiple layers to their coats. I have a chow/shepherd with a multi-layered coat who I do not shave. My German Shepherd doesn't require it either but my Old English most certainly does to be comfortable during the sweltering heat of South Carolina in the summer. Also, I just have to ask, how is one to clip a mat if not with scissors? My mix gets them all of the time and that's the only option I have to remove the mat as she HATES being brushed! This is a misleading and poorly thought out article!

MizFurball

To remove hair mats, I use a curved envelope opener. It has a sharp blade but cannot touch the skin. I run it through the mat several times, then just pull off the matted fur.

Juliebea

I am so happy to see that so many pet owners (and even a vet) know not to follow this ridiculous advice! Do what makes your pet comfortable!

Corrine from CT

I also disagree with this article. My Golden/doodle, Bichon and Terrier/Lhasa are all happiest when shaved. I do agree that you should not shave them hairless for risk of sunburn.

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