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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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Terry

My pets have to be shaved for reasons of stickers,burs and heat! We live in Texas and my vet is the on who told me to shave my Pom! My groomer works for the vet. She doesn't shave them to the skin she shaves most of the belly. My vet is not in agreement and I will continue doing as my vet recommends. I will also get of ASPCA site if all the smartass people are condisendind towards fellow pet rescuers! I will also stop sending my monthly pledge and work with other rescue groups instead. We are all animal advocates here and you are not smarter than me and my vet. Quit being the grooming police and be nice or up I will block you. Many people choose to groom for different reasons so why don't you post suggestions and drop the superiority additude. I have 5 rescues and have been doing it for 30 yrs. don't need your condescending snarky remarks! Thank you

Johan

How stupid can the ASPCA be??? Long hair keeps them cool??? All you have to do is shave a dog that lies around panting all day long to see that the panting stops when the hair comes off. Maybe I'm using the term shaving wrong.... I leave a quarter inch of hair but geez people, whoever came up with the theory that hair keeps them cool must be insane. How can people believe this and keep spreading it around the internet year after year?

Colleen

I have a foster aussie mix that I would not think to shave. But when I got her she was all matted and had imbedded stickers, plus a large abcess that was from a sticker. My vet had to have her groomed in order to get all the stickers out and treat the sores. She stays in the house mostly due to other issues so she's getting limited exposure.

Kathy

Why should you never cut mats off with scissors?

Angelica

I think it's because severe mats that are so tight to the skin, you wind up potentially cutting the skin. A small mat further down the length of the fur would be fine to cut off. As far as the severe ones go, if you use a scissors you must be very careful, cutting tiny pieces off the ends at a time. A safe dog shaver is the best route though. JMO, though, I'm not a groomer. A groomer would best answer this question I'm sure.

catty

this article speaks of animals outside. I totally agree that shaving a long haired dog that stays outside can be a problem. I had a black long haired dog.... she was outside a lot... when you touched the top of her hair it was almost too hot to touch... but when you ran your fingers beneath the heavy coat... it was only warm... she now stays inside most of the time and I totally shave her... which is not harmful to her and controls the massive shedding she does in the house.

Debi

As a retired vet tech/groomer there are always exceptions to the rule. While longer hair does help keep pets protected from various things,such as sunburn, there are times when a pet,dog or cat, HAS to be "stripped" (meaning shaving the hair to the skin) because the hair absolutely cannot be combed out.(it can be quite costly and time consuming for a groomer to dematt a dog if you can find one that does it) Some pets left ungroomed for long periods of time get so "matted" (tangled)you are unable to get any type of comb or brush through it. And,expecting a dog or cat to sit perfectly still and be good while you pull and comb and try to brush and then try to cut their hair in an unreasonable thing to expect of them. Plus the unbearable pain the pet would go through trying to acomplish that should be a concern.
A good groomer should speak to the owners about more frequent grooming at home and be able to make the dog look as cute as possible given what they have left to work with.
In my experience dogs don't like how they feel when their hair is so matted. They just look down in the dumps and sad. They may have trouble walking, feces may be packed in and under their hair around their hind end and many times irritation/sores are found when they are bathed. I have found foxtail wounds,injuries, ticks and flea infestations all unbeknownst to the owners because of the hair being so badly matted. As soon as the dog has been shaved the light in their eyes returns and they feel awesome again! The hair usually grows back pretty quickly,within a month or two.
Some animals have to be sedated just to be groomed because of fears they have when it comes to grooming. That should always be done under the supervision of a veterinarian.
While what I have said is more to the extreme it does happen. You can trim a dogs hair,cutting about 1/2 of it off if you like the tidy look. But shaving them isnt all that necessary,especially for outdoor dogs. Indoor dogs? Not really a big deal.....

Lucy

I have a sheltie and live in the foothills in So. California. It gets hot here. I compete in Obedience, do therapy visits and take long walks. I have a few rules for keeping my dog groomed. First, I would never shave my sheltie's coat. It would ruin it. I do brush him daily and bathe him every 3 to 4 weeks. Next, we do our workouts early, since it is always cool here at night and generally does not heat up until the sun gets strong about 8:30 - 9:00. I keep him very fit, which also helps. I have noticed that dogs such as Shelties, Aussies and Collies acutally do better than very short-haired dogs, such as Boxers and Italian Greyhounds in both hot and cold weather. The poor, little Italian Greyhounds in particular, with no fat and no hair, are not protected from heat, cold or hard ground.
I have seen shaved Aussies and Shelties. Their coats never come back properly. Of course, if they have been badly neglected, and are so matted there is nothing else to be done, then one really has no choice.

Dana

This is not for everyone. I have Toy Poodles. I get them Groomed all the time especially in the summer. So if I left them long haired & didn't groom them, how would I stop the matting? Losts of stuff sticks to poodles coats. So if I leave them long & brush them everyday I might find last years Christmas Tree

Dana

Just have a simple comment. I have just rescued a shih-tzu and her hair is nothing but matts every where! I cannot shave her because the matts are near her skin,and i can't use a detangler comb for the same reason,I have sprayed detangler on the matts and used my fingers very slowly and gently to work through the matts,but to no avail! I have no other alternative but to use scissors,any other suggestions? My groomer will not touch her, says it will take too much time, and the clincher is she is about 15 years old and was dumped out into a busy street! Oh yes one more thing,she is blind and deaf,what is wrong with these people! Can any one give me any help? I have to go very slow with her as she is very scared and goes into seizures when upset! HELP PLEASE!!

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