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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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Richard

My long furry Border Collie/ Shepard mix started having skin problems that would become sores and infected around 6 years old. Taken her to the two different vets and treated her for two years on steroids which I started thinking and reading up on that this was not good for her if it keeps recurring. Then I was told by two different vets to have her seen by a dermo. for costly tests and see if she might be allergic to something. Not that I would not be willing to spend whatever it took to get the help she needed but I decided to experiment on shaving her and changing her diet. Guess what? She hasnt had a skin problem and she certainly has been happier. When I told my vets they recommended to continue with what I've been doing since she's doing great?

Ann

I have heard Echinacea leaves are good for that...I started researching how safe they are for dogs when my dog started eating them...my dog does not have skin problems or anything, but someone had mentioned theirs did and it helped so they made sure to keep them on hand all year around for them...

Denise

Perhaps you should have tried just changing her diet first to see if that helped before resorting to shaving her. I'm just sayin'.

Lisa K.

@Denise: My exact thought.

BB

I agree. Nutrition is vital for skin health.

Dianna

Plain yogurt was suggested for my sheltie's hot spots. It's slow but working nicely and she loves the yogurt. If it continues to work, I will continue to give it to her.

carrie

You could just shave her belly down to the skin. thats what i do for my long coats. that way, they get to keep their god-made natural thermal layer of fur, but yet they can also lay on any hard surface and feel the coolness on bare skin. I also feel that shaved belly to gauge their temperature throughout the day. when hot to the touch, i send them in basement to lay on cool ground floor, after 20 mins they are good as new!! at the groomer just as for a under-belly shave and genital clean-up. thats all they really need.

heather

Dogs don't sweat, it's a well-known fact. They cannot sweat. That's why they pant. Seriously, look it up.

Ellie

Dogs don't sweat like humans but they do sweat through the pads on their feet.

SF

Dogs do NOT sweat.

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