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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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Melanie

I agree with some the these post. I had a pomeranian and he would not even go outside in the summer until i would shave him. Only then was he happy. Also, the coat grows in so nice by winter. I do agree to not shave so short otherwise your pup my get burnt.

George G

I wonder if the good Doctor has ever owned a large pet with lots of thick hair. I owned 2 large German Sheppard/St Bernard mix dogs. They were much cooler shaved, had more energy, panted less, and overall seemed much more comfortable shaved. They loved being shaved, my big male, Yogi, used to fall asleep while I shaved him. I took them out in my boat here in Tampa every weekend, and they never had a sunburn. Dogs release heat from their exhale and thru their paws, but they also release heat from the skin around their muzzle and nose. You can see the moisture collect and form drops of sweat.

I'm sure the doctor is right that extensive brushing and combing will help a long haired dog, but put me in the shaving column. It's easier and they love it!

Marie

My cat is crazy. When she was younger she loved to roll around on the driveway, the grass, and in the dirt under the big tree in the back yard. Needless to say, her coat got all knotted and gross.

Try to brush her, are you kidding?? The first time I took her to the vet to get it taken care of, I was so embarrassed because it looked like I neglected her. He cut it all out and shaved it a little bit, but not down to the skin. After a couple of expensive visits, I started taking her to a groomer who does a great job. Not too short, but effective - and she stopped rolling around in the dirt. Maybe a correlation there?

She doesn't go outside too much anymore but I still have her trimmed short only in the summer. She seems to like it.

And YES I give her flea/tick medicine.

George G

Way to go Lindsay! You are 100% correct. It's very interesting how so many of these people think they know and they don't. I think it's a liberal thing.

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.

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