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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!

Comments

Comments

julie

I've never shaved my dog because I love his soft, lush coat, and don't want it to grow back differently, if it would. So I hose him down outdoors with cool water when it's really hot. He's gotten used to it, and smiles more and moves more comfortably afterwards.

Denia

I also disagree with this article. I have a bichon and true she doesnt sweat but i notice a difference in attitude when she is groomed, I see this in the way she runs and plays. She does not do it with long hair. I groom her every 6 weeks. And how can you say dont cut the mats? With 3 layers of hair, as soon as i feel a little mat, I cut it off.

Mary Mason

Good for you ! Bichons do need to be groomed often. And, cutting out a mat is fine if you are very careful. It's better to brush them out..... but some people don't get it. They let their dog get so matted and try to save money by getting out the scissors. But they don't know what they are doing and end up cutting into the dogs skin and really hurting them. It's so sad.

Denia

I also disagree with this article. I have a bichon and true she doesnt sweat but i notice a difference in attitude when she is groomed, I see this in the way she runs and plays. She does not do it with long hair. I groom her every 6 weeks. And how can you say dont cut the mats? With 3 layers of hair, as soon as i feel a little mat, I cut it off.

KJ

I live in Sacramento, CA where it gets well in to the 95 - 110F some days in the summer. My dogs have to be outside (in the shade) during the day. My too short-haired dogs are much cooler than my Australian Shepherd is with her full coat. I shave her coat every summer (not so short that she burns) and she is much, much cooler! Her coat grows back nicely every year - never any damage. I have always shaved my Aussies and Border Collies with no problem. I have also been told by my vets it is fine to shave long-haired dogs in hot areas of the country. Also, dogs DO have sweat glands in between the pads of their feet.

KJ

I live in Sacramento, CA where it gets well into the 95 - 110F range some days in the summer. My dogs have to be outside (in the shade) during the day. My two short-haired dogs are much cooler than my Australian Shepherd is with her full coat. I shave her coat every summer (not so short that she burns) and she is much, much cooler! Her coat grows back nicely every year - never any damage. I have always shaved my Aussies and Border Collies with no problem. I have also been told by my vets it is fine to shave long-haired dogs in hot areas of the country. Also, dogs DO have sweat glands in between the pads of their feet.

Toby

We just had our Cairn Terrier shaved, because he was giving the groomer such a hard time so we said to go ahead and do it (he never likes to get haircuts-he just doesn't like anyone fussing with him). Afterwards, he had a lot of bumps and scablike things on his skin. Do those sound like ingrown hairs, or something else?

Ann

As a vet tech and a malmute owner, shaving is the way to go. And you only damage folicles if you do a surgical trim, which is way too short. My malmutes are much happier when i shave them, especially since we live in an area where it is regularly 110 degrees.

I think what this article is really saying is, dont do a surgical trim. that WILL hurt their coat and it will expose their skin making it easier to burn. Ive shaved my dogs for years and the only burn they have ever gotten was on their nose.

BJFL

I have a corgi which I did have shaved at one time. I regretted it at once and have never had it done since
My vet also told me to only have her "ferminated" by a professional. That ferminator brush/comb can be harmful and painful to the dog unless you know what you are doing.

Eileen

I have an Alaskan Malamute. These dogs should never be shaved but I've heard many, many people recommend that I shave her over the summer. Their undercoat is a great insulator. I do brush her every day to remove loose hair and she looks great!
Misty has a fan beside her dog bed, a small wading pool (putting their paws in water really cools them off!) and occasionally I take her out and sponge her down.

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