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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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Tarie

This would be true if the dogs had originated in the areas where they now live. If I took a cold weather animal and moved it to the desert that would not apply. Dogs have been bred by people to have certain attributes and are often placed in areas where they are NOT looked after by "mother nature". My naturally almost bald rat terrier would not fair well in the northern circle and my corgi doesn't do well in our desert climate. He also suffers from epilepsy - our VET has us shave him and he is remarkably happier when shaved. Although I love his silky soft coat I would rather he be comfortable. By the way, we were sent here by my husband's job. I also think that choosing a dog that isn't good for your climate is a poor choice. I hate it when people equate wild animals with dogs - dogs are not wild animals but genetically engineered to meet the needs of people. Look at the brachycephalic dogs for example!

Barbara Gathany

I have a 15 year-old Persian who is very small. She wasn't able to jump up on anything at all and was always panting. We got her a lion cut years ago, and she improved at once. She was able to jump up on the furniture for the first time and her breathing really improved. I think cutting or shaving depends on the individual pet and whether there is improvement or not.

Moparkat

So they are saying do not shave your dog period? What happens when you own non-shedding dogs? If I let my pomchi go without a trim/shave he has severe matts. The article also leaves off how you are to remove matts if not with scissors or why not to do so. I have to trim my poodle, bichon and pomchi with scissors. Clippers get clogged. This article is lacking in completeness.

Vero

I believe it is both the Vet and owner since the owner knows their pets best. Every dog is different. People (and some vets) put dogs in the same "canine" category. My dog gets depressed when we get him shaved, he's happier furrier.

CJ

I have my 2 dogs bathed and shaved every 8 weeks...they are more comfortable. They are not shaved down to where the skin shows....just similar to a brush cut. I agree that each pet owner should do what they feel is best for their animal. I don't believe that dogs should be walked in the steamy hot sun..should definitely wait until the sun goes down, or before it comes up in the morning. Above all, just love and care for your pets for they are part of your family.

Tom

I live in AZ where lately the temp has been over 115 regularly. I have a Belgian sheep dog mix with a long coat and I make sure to wet him down before walks and sprinkle him fairly often. The long hair holds the water and keeps him nice and cool.

patty kolk/Bite...

hi tom! fellow Zonie... :) I'm definately not a vet, just a groomer.. watch out for major skin problems from the fur trapping the moisture in your dogs coat. I've seen too manybacterial infections unless the coat can completely dry out. CHEERS!

patty kolk/Bite...

I am the owner of Bitebuster Safety Wear as well as a groomer of 20 years. I absolutely respect Dr. Murrays comments on shaving except I have to add that I wish that she had stressed about the brushing out of dead hair early on in the article when talking about the layers of the coat as a cooling system. I would have to say that 90 percent of the owners of long haired dogs and cats do not brush their pet everyday and get out all the hair that allows the coat to function as a cooling system. My best analogy of this is the coils of my AC in my little grooming area. When hair is stuck on them the cool air does not come out and I am as uncomfortable as I can be! The same thing happens to your long-haired pet. Having groomed pets especially here in the heat of AZ it makes me sad to think of someone reading just this headline and not reading until the end about the brushing part. I always say to the people that ask me about the pet shaving and coats acting as coolers...it's an old wives tale unless you are willing to brush long haired pet everyday to the point of running a comb through it easily.

Dawnita May

I sure wish people would figure out the difference between a "shave" and a "clip".
A "shave" would remove ALL of the fur down to the skin, whereas a "clip" leaves a length of fur intact at a predetermined length. (Just an old barber bitching, but if I "shaved" you, you wouldn't have ANY hair left at all)

Dorie

This article is why I don't spend my money on taking my dogs to vets. Just because you have a degree in veterinary school doesn't mean you know everything. I shave my two golden retrievers down every summer and leave there coat for winter we live in Phoenix AZ. And to not scissor mats off well I have done that too and had no problem my mother in law who is a dog groomer showed me how to do it safely. I think as long as you use common sense or take your dog to a professional dog groomer there is nothing wrong with shaving your dogs down for hot summers.

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