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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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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!!

Bridgette

Did you try taking her to an animal hospital or rescue shelter that offers vet services for rescue animals. It does not sound like using scissors or doing this om your own is a good idea. I would spend some money and take her to a hospital. There are some vets here maybe they can tell you better than I can, this is just a suggestion.

Anne

I have a Goldie and for the first four years of her life summer would see her lazy and no energy and not wanting to go to obedience training, nothing like her Lab sister. After speaking to our vet I decided to get her shaved and she is now a different dog when summer comes around. Best thing I ever did for her. She is so much happier.

Rebecca

I never shaved my long haired cat until he began matting his fur (by teasing it with his mouth- Yes really) each summer. He seemed misearable so I thought I'd try shaving him. He's an indoor only cat so I did not have to worry about prolonged sun exposure. He wasn't crazt about the shaving part at first, but I noticed an immediate change in his personality after. He seemed more relaxed, less stressed and seemed to love how easy it was to groom himself. Now when I shave him he lays like a baby and I believe he knows the end result and is happy about it. I can't say enough about how he's become a happier cat when shaved. In the fall I let the fur grow back and don't shave him again until the end of May.

JT

It's not a black and white thing. Some breeds actually do very well with a close trim (TRIM, not bald shave). Who shaves their pet bald anyway? Most groomers won't even do that. Some people on here seem to enjoy being rigid and deliberately obtuse in their responses to those who are a bit more considerate and open minded about the topic. There's no template for every problem. Animals are evolved (and bred) for their natural climate region. Some seem to forget that we humans have a habit of taking things out of their natural environments and messing with the natural order of things. If you're raising Malamutes in Arizona, then it is your responsibility to do what is necessary to make sure the dog is healthy and happy living in a climate it was not meant for. Weather that means trimming, or just making sure you have the correct amenities. Be sensible.

KathyM51394

I wouldn't shave my golden, but when we went to FL and Carly went with us, I did have the groomer trim her. She took off just enough extra fur and Carly loved it. She did the "pants" and her "feathers" and thinned out her fur. Carly loved it!

Carol

We shave our border collie/golden retriever mix three times each summer. She is clearly happier as a result of the shave. She is 12 years old- but acts like a puppy every time she has a shave. I can understand the concern for sunburn, so you'll have to weigh whether this is right for your pet based on exposure to the sun. However, from our experience (which is for a dog who is either indoors or in the shade) shaving has made our dog much more comfortable and I highly recommend it.

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