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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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Harvard Dangerfield

False. Temperatures in Siberia can reach 100F degrees - Maryland is a perfectly fine climate for a Malamute. A properly groomed double-coated northern breeds can handle 90 degree weather better than other dogs, specifically because of their coat. Clipping/shaving their fur can interfere with their ability to regulate their body temperature and can have deadly consequences. Shaving their fur actually makes them more susceptible to over-heating. The layers of air trapped within a properly-groomed-coat keep their bodies cool. Also, their fur protects their sensitive pink skin from the sun. Without a properly groomed fur coat, double-coated northern breeds are defenseless from even a 70 degree temperature and the sun's UV rays. Also, very close shaving of their undercoat can sometimes damage follicles and cause the fur to not grow back. A northern-breed should be brushed once a week, at least, and daily when blowing-coat. If a person does not have the time, energy, or money to properly groom a double-coated northern breed, then that person should not own one.

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.

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!

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