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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.

Comments

Comments

Rob

With all due respect Gail you are missing the vital difference between how humans and dogs cool down. We the humans sweat and expel heat through our skin. Dogs expel heat solely through panting. So yes we would not wear a blanket to block the sun as we would heat the layer of air between our skin and the blanket and therefore could not cool down via evaporation. Dogs don't do this. How often have you seen a sweaty dog? So this is not bad advice at all.

Sunny RainbowHeart

"Farse" should be spelled "Farce" and "jibberish" should be spelled "gibberish". Nobody expects you to be Hemingway, but, really, basic grammar and spelling can and should be expected of everyone. Especially when you make a point of criticizing the person who commented on global warming. Remember, if you post publicly, you invited public comment.

Kiki Walker

"invited" is past tense, so if your are to use the proper grammar it should be "invite" present tense.

phyllis

Checking sources is valid...policing grammer....uhmmm?

sjb

Whether it should be "invite" or "invited" depends on the intended meaning of the sentence.

KNelty

LOL! Good one!

sjb

Please refrain from asking others to refrain from political commentary and then offering your own.

gloria

Well said. I love how people make everythhing about them. When the focus should be on the annimals.

Christine Heidt

Dear Gail,
I disagree with shaving a dog for summer. For ten years I had my Malamute and Pomeranian groomed 3 times a year and they were fine. Then, without my permission, the same groomer took it upon herself to shave my dogs (is probably easier than combing out all that underfur)and both dogs developed a 'razor burn'. I went to three different veterinarians who confirmed that these breeds should not be shaven and I had to put the dogs on Prednison and antibiotics. Needless to say, their fur did NOT GROW BACK. Both looked like pigs instead of dogs. Three years later I had to put them to sleep. The incompetent groomer never acknowledged her mistake.
Christine Heidt, Saint Lazare, Que/Canada

Jessica Butts

I'm wondering why the two dogs had to be put to sleep? Of course I'm terribly sorry for your loss. I'm wondering if the shaving caused their deaths three years later? Were their immune systems harmed by the steroids (prednisone) ? It wasn't because of their appearance,right? I'm sorry and please don't feel insulted but I don't know you and was concerned. My deceased grandfather put one dog to sleep bc of cancer and chose to put his healthy dog to sleep at the same time. Why? Because he wanted his heartbreak to be accomplished in one swoop and was worried the healthy dog would be lonely.

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