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Heat Wave! Should You Shave Your Pet?

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 11:45am

Nearly everywhere in America, this summer is a scorcher, and we know that as a responsible pet parent, you want to do everything you can to keep your best four-legged friends cool. So when you look at your Pomeranian, Golden Retriever or long-haired cat wearing a thick, fluffy coat, you might feel tempted to break out your grooming tools and give him a serious hair cut.

But hold those clippers! 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, 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. Your dog’s coat prevents your pup from getting sunburn and helps protect her from skin cancer.

So what can you do? “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.

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.

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.

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Kris Aaron

Sharing my pet peeve (no pun intended) here. I dislike the term PC. What in the world does it mean anyway? When applied to a comedian, let's say, as in "he's not PC" and usually said with admiration, it means he spouts racist anti woman and/or anti gay rhetoric or has a potty mouth. He uses lots of dirty words and is a nasty guy, in other words, a grown up version of the school yard bully. "The current PC notion of global warming...", what does that mean? I think people are going to have strong feelings about something that they believe could be the end of the world. It has nothing to do with politics. It's akin to living in 1935 and having strong feelings about Adolf Hitler. My verdict: it's an overdone concept and an intellectually lazy one , as well.
Oh, and I did shave my furry black Persian mix and he couldn't be happier. His outdoor visits are brief, so no chance of sunburn.

S. O. Rooney

Get your head out of the sand.

maryw

Thank u for posting what u did.We also shave our dogs in the summer time.St.bernard,and a sheppard/wolf,and THEY LOVED IT.jUST GOTTA LEAVE ENOUGH FOR THE MISQUITOS, I since strongly dis-agree w/this article.Everyone thought the world was flat too for centuries,guess what they were wrong..Shave em,,they will love it,,jmo mary

Linda Corbin

as a groomer and pet owner and vet tech i think i speak w/ some knowledge.
Nature gave pets the coats they have for a reason - in winter they grow one, when it gets warm/hot they shed it. What's left is what they need to stay cool. If they were meant to have close cropped coats, I think they'd be that way naturally!! It's people who think they need to be shaved to be cooler when in reality the animal is left open to heatstroke and skin cancer!! Just like people!! Just brush & comb the coat (this where owners get lazy) or use one of those "furminator" things.....DON'T SHAVE THE ANIMAL!!

Denise Ohly

Dogs that live indoors shed constantly because shedding in the wild is dictated by daylight hours. Dogs that live indoors are subjected to artificial light all year round so they will shed all year. This is completely normal. Listen to the experts about not clipping. That is why they are the experts.

Healani

Global Warming???? Oh Lord

Julia

Unless you are having him bathed and blow out by a professional groomer he is going to appear to be shedding all year round. Dirty coats have a hard time releasing dead fur all at once like they are supposed to. So they release clumps when they become too heavy and gravity just pulls them out. His skin will be fine but the texture of his coat will have changed from all the shaving and you can't reverse that. But if you like a natural coat on a thick double coated dog have them professionally groomed 3-4 times a year minimum and you won't see very much shedding. Having them groomed 6-8 times a year will eliminate almost all fur shedding.

Gail Holcomb

For the first time in her 6 years, we clipped our Corgi this summer. Her brother (a Cocker) has always gotten regular clipping, pretty short in summer and heavier in winter, but we believed the theory of leaving a dog's insulation untouched. Wrong! She can enjoy walks now (morning, and we carry water). I agree with Christina that you have to take the breed and climate into consideration. In a hot and humid summer, it's cruel to leave a dog in a thick, long coat. Would you wear your thick wool coat? Sure we need sun protection, but we don't wear blankets.
We've donated regularly to ASPCA for 30 years. I'm disappointed to see you spreading this thoughtless misinformation.

Erica

Who are you to say this information is wrong. Vet? Groomer? Doubt it.

diane

If you read the article you will see there is a difference from clipping to shaving. Clipping means short shaving means not at all. Shaving all the hair off a dog is dangerous.

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