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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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lesley

we had a australian shepherd/collie mix that we had trimmed every few months. one summer the groomer cut his fur way too short and we spent the summer putting sun screen on him everytime we/he went outside.

we also set up a wading pool in a shaded place when the weather started to get warm. we also had german shepherds and terrier mixes that loved to play in the water. half the time they wanted to go out it was just to play in the pool

the only part of the cats we have ever trimmed was the long fur on their paws so they wouldn't slide into walls when they ran off the carpet onto the flooring.

Angelica

I had a Belgian Tervuran years ago. My son took her to the vet for me once and the vet tore into my son about the long fur in the heat of our hot desert area, which can reach low triple digits. The dog was not matted and well groomed, but the vet said the dog should not have all that fur and to get him clipped. So not all vets agree. If it were me taking him, I would have mentioned to the vet that our dog was more often than not in our climate controlled home. But my point is, the VET wanted the fur shortened, not shaved, but definitely much much shorter.

I now am the happy mommy of a Lhasa. We keep him with a 'puppy cut'..again not SHAVED but much shorter than Lhasas generally have. He is apparently and obviously happier and cooler (less panting, etc.) when his hair (fur) is shorter. Of course I do agree on not shaving though, as they do need some natural insulation and also there is the potential for sunburn etc. I think it's a matter of not too much either way...too much cutting/shaving or too much fur...a happy middle. One thing I do think of a lot is, I, myself, am cooler with light colored and lightweight clothing on in the heat of summer than I am in shorts/tanktops. I suppose it would be similar with a furbaby, in that some covering is good, but not necessarily a thick thick coat. JMO.

PJ

I think the point Dr Murray was trying to make was it is not always best to shave a dog or cat's fur real short (down to the skin) to keep them cool, nor as a alternative to regular grooming and brushing. Each is an individual and the pet owner must judge depending on the circumstances - but NOT too short.

Kelli

I am a groomer and when labs/shepards/huskies/goldens etc come in and the owner says they want shaved, I do everything in my power to talk them out of it. Sadly, they never care about the medical impact usually when I say there's a chance the fur will grow back in weird, they say "I dont want Fido to look ugly." And change their mind.
Sometimes, I wish groomers could trump owner requests ._.

Deb

My vet told me as long as you leave about an inch of fur, it's fine to give dogs a haircut.

Lisa Lincoln

ONE REASON to shave your long-haired dachshund: Because the Veterinary Allergist said her coat was like a dust mop for allergens. I keep her hair short and she is less symptomatic.

Monty

I think we must remember where the dog originated from before casting judgement on shave or not. For example my dog is a Tibetan Terrier, which have very long dense coats, they are from a very cold mountainous envirornment. However I lived in Greece for 10 years before moving back to the UK. Do you seriously think it is fair to have a dog that originally comes from such a cold place, living in 50 degree heat with a full coat? No dramatics but If I didn't have my dog shaved I think he would be dead by now. I believe you should do whatever is most comfortable for the DOG not the owner/vet/groomer!!

Angelica

I totally agree with you Monty. That is what the vet said about my dog, who originated in a much milder and cooler climate. In actuality, his thoughts were the dog should not have been in this area to begin with. I've seen dogs here even more furry (chow chows come to mind, I think that's what they're called) and they look positively miserable in the heat of summer. When one decides on a dog, they must take into consideration the climate that pet originated from and not get a dog just because they like how they look. Coincidentally, you and I both have dogs that originated in Tibet (I now have a Lhasa Apsa). My Lhasa is not comfortable in the summer months with the longer fur they are so known for, but a puppy cut is perfect and absolutely adorable anyway. I'm sure it is the same with your Tibetan Terrier! Those are cute dogs!

And of course, in the cooler seasons, a bit longer fur is just fine. Bottom line: Adjust your dog's fur coat to the seasonal temperatures. I do allow my Lhasa's coat to grow a bit more in the winter as well. Shaving a dog however would never be an option, and most groomers would agree. If a dog needs shaving it's generally due to matting and that is a sign of poor care by their owners. We brush our own hair regularly and should afford our pets the same courtesy!

Mona

Could we not be overlooking the fact that many cats and dogs are use to spending most of their time in air-conditioned homes, becoming progressively acclimated to cooler temperatures making it harder to take the hotter temperatures outdoors, especially as they age. If this alters their ability to compensate for the warmer more humid outdoors, then they may actually do better with a little less hair. Otherwise we could just keep them in the cool house, taking them out for walks in the cooler evening temps only.

Pat

perplexing to say least! I have a long-coat GSD who also is on Atopica which can cause hair growth - she looks like a bear not a GSD, even a long-coat one. She is miserable and constantly panting always lies on cold floor rather than two different beds in the house. She is inside and I have air-conditioning and plenty of water available. She goes to day-care and they have swimming pools which she loves. I have to clip her down a couple of times because she is miserable. I hate the way she looks - but, she is clearly much more comfortable and spends more time on her beds. I brush her daily, but w/ the amt. of hair it is impossible to stayon top. I think the medication has resulted in an abnormal amt. of hair which this breed is not supposed to be dealing with!

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