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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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Amy Lally

Why did you feel the need to bring political affiliation into a decidedly non political discussion?

Amy Lally

Why did you feel the need to bring political affiliation into a decidedly non political discussion?

Mastiff Owner

I have shaved my mastiffs for 10 plus years in the summer and they are noticably cooler, have never had sunburn or any skin issues, shed less, and love their "spa days"

Mary

I could not disagree more with the ASPCA stance on shaving. We live in St. Louis, where it gets hot and very humid. We have had three St. Bernards, all of whom we had shaved or given "puppy cuts" in spring, which lasted throughout the hottest parts of the spring and summer. The positive effect the shaving had on their demeanor and behavior was startling in all three cases. We adopted our first Saint in 1990, when the anti-shaving belief was commonly accepted. But, we saw the obvious distress she was in - panting excessively, drinking frantically, pacing. So, after enduring one summer of this, we chose to have her shaved. The difference in her comfort level was dramatic. She calmed down, had energy to do more than lie in one place and pant, and even enjoyed taking walks again. Ever since then we have had our Saints shaved, and it has saved them. They were all indoor dogs, going out only for potty and for early morning walks, therefore the skin cancer argument is moot. All were in air conditioning and their thick coats did nothing but block out the cool air while trapping in the heat. While I respect the ASPCA and its experts, I believe their advice is old-fashioned and not based on real world experience.

Amy Lally

It seems that the term "shaved" isn't defined enough. What some people think is shaved is actually a puppy cut. Big difference.

Amy Lally

It seems that the term "shaved" isn't defined enough. What some people think is shaved is actually a puppy cut. Big difference.

Rhonda Hodgman

I must say, I have a rescue border collie and did not shave her last summer at all ... she was miserable, even with brushing her nightly on our walks. I had her shaved this summer when it started heating up. We live in Phoenix and she is such a happy girl! I did not have her shaved to the skin but my groomer suggested to leave enough to protect her skin. I love my new found groomer and she got a $25.00 tip simply because she knew what would work and how to protect Micah.

SC

“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.”

This is ridiculous.

Insulation only prevents your house from overheating in the summer if you're running an air conditioner... If you weren't, I guarantee you'd have all the windows open and fans running to cycle air through the house from outside.

Warm blooded beings don't have internal air conditioners. As long as your pets body temperature is above the ambient temperature, they will be cooler WITHOUT insulation.

Dab

I have 2 Yorkies. They sport puppy cuts but they usually get longer in the winter. In the summer they have a very short cut but not shaved. They stay cleaner and are easier and quicker to wash. I can tell that they are also more comfortable. When we go outside they wear doggie sunscreen; I even have sunscreen wipes to apply periodically when they are outdoors. I also am sure they they wear something weather appropriate like a cute sun dress to protect them.To protect their eyes, they wear doggles! I also make sure that they are well hydrated. I carry cold water in a cooler/lunch bag I carry with me. Also, if it is too warm, they ride in their dog stroller (provides shade with the hood up) complete with cool pads! We often go places in the summer but they go right into the air conditioning no matter where we are if I feel they need to cool off further...this includes our vehicle which we all sit in with the air condition running full blast when we need to !

Kitty

"Shaved" & "clipped" are TWO different actions. NO animal should be "shaved" to the skin...however close "clipping" CAN help an animal who cannot groom themselves, or one who seems to get uncomfortable in the heat of summer.

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