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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janis b

Well, I shaved my beautiful golden for one reason only, she had terrible skin and hot spots and swam all the time. Her coat did not dry and the hot spots just festered, so I kept her short and that gave me the cushion I needed to stop a hot spot in it's tracks. Now if the ASPCA can give some advice on how to prevent cancer of the liver and spleen, that would be helpful


I have a 20 year old Himalayan and a 15 year old Domestic Long Hair. They are, and have always been, indoor cats only. I get both groomed (the 'lion' cut) every 6 months or so and they both seem so much happier. In my instance I believe it is due to the horrible mats they get in their coats. Neither cat will tolerate being brushed and ignoring the mats can lead to 'hot spots' on their skin which can become infected and cause a lot of problems. The grooming is done at my vet's office since my Himmy has to be lightly sedated ('twilight'). My Long-Hair does not need sedation.


My Maine Coon actually LIKES having all that fur gone. It's really hard for her to keep up with her grooming on her own. And she absolutely does NOT like to be brushed. Yet when she gets home from the groomer it's like she has just been to the spa. With all the interesting smells and the special attention she gets from her goomer, she prances and rolls around on Cloud 9 the rest of the day. I really think it depends on the pet.

patricia byers

I take my cat (long haired Siamese) to the vets for shaving. the vet can put them under enough to keep them calm. I can usually keep her groomed myself but about once every year or two I have to have it done. I also have an older long haired chi who looks like a cotton ball. she is miserable in the summer and the groomer shaves her (tho she still has enough to protect her)


I have an indoor himalayan cat who is miserable when it starts to get hot out, all he does is lay around....once I have him shaved, he acts like a kitten, jumping around, etc... he LOVES being shaved and I have it done twice during the summer months.


For dog with a thick undercoat - what about the shedding tools - are they recommended? Because I find the brushes aren't effective - as the hair is so fine....I bought one of those furminators it seems to do a good job - but kind of sounds like it's shaving the hair.....

A groomer

Throw it away...get a coat king!

Regular Reader

So, I have a small dog (chihuahua/mystery mix) that I got from a rescue group. She is totally an indoor dog. By nature she has very LONG hair - and cries and cringes when I try to brush her, no matter how gently. Who knows what the history was there? So she gets clipped regularly (not shaved, but clipped short). Her favorite groomer says she cooperates nicely about the grooming - not stressed there. The dog is happier, I am happier. If I had a kitty in the same situation, it would undoubtedly see the groomer regularly too. The whole point is that the pet be taken care of the best way possible.

Kaye Mitchell

I used to believe that too until I inherited a St. Bernard while living in Houston. The dog was miserable, laid on the cool tile all the time, got hot spots and panted a lot. I gave in and had him groomed and shaved and that ended the hot spots, and brought his energy back. Ask the dog if it is insulation or a fur coat.


SAME here. My chow/sheltie was panting all night, had no energy and did the same thing -- looked for cool tiles to lay on. Trimmed her down and she's HAPPY!! She's 14, too old to go by old rules. She's running around like a puppy.