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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

christina woods

This summer we clipped our Malamute/Shepherd and he is so happy. We live in Maryland and not the ideal for this kind of breed. We watched for any initial skin irritation or burn but he is not outside that much. He is much more friskier and so happy as are we to have less clumps of hair. i am wondering with the global warniming effects if dogs are not shedding completely when they should. This guy used to "blow" the coat twice a year but it seems he is blowing all the time....thus tha summer clip to get rid of all that hair. It seems like a win/win just keep a close eye on any skin irritation.

Linda

If your dog is kept inside most of the time, as mine are, they DO blow their coats all the time. I have shelties and they have so much hair that I did ask my vet about shaving/clipping because of the heat (live in TN). I was told never to shave my dogs due to the same things the article states as it is protection for the dog, not only from the sun but from ticks, mosquitoes, etc. A trim is fine. Global warming, really?

Carrie

Only if they have a medical condition such as a thyroid problem

Jill

Actually that is not true. My Keeshond was shaved every summer (I never EVER had a groomer tell me not to) and she developed Alopecia X. I read that it can be CAUSED by shaving. I never would have done that had I known. I will never shave a dog again if I get another.

Lisathegroomer

Human hair folicals have 1 hair coming out of them Dogs have 8-25 hairs coming out of them. 1 gaurd hair and lots of little fluffy under coat hairs. When the hair is cut to short not all hairs can get through the folical at once but they eventually would even if it took years. About wether to shave or not it depends on how well you take care of your dog or cats hair/fur. It is my experience that most people will not or are not able to take proper care of their dog/cats fur. As a result these animals become severly matted and the fur felted and it can shrink like a wool sweater. If this is the case, the kindest thing to do is to keep the animal short.

Chaplinssmile

I had to shave my lovely Chow girl due to a terrible skin condition. When it grew back, it seemed that only the undercoat grew back, not the shiny outer coat. She never grew in the beautiful shiny coat she originally had. It grew in woolly.

Phyllis

I can attest to this fact - I have a sheltie/chow 'hybrid' who has the ultimate of double-coated hair from both parents (people think he is a Pomerian on steroids weighing in at 35 lbs and 15" hight to the shoulder). He is 13 years old now and I have had him shaved 3 times in his lifetime on advice of vets due to heat stroke even though he has always been an indoor boy. The first two times it took him over two years to grow back....all the while looking like a victim of mange. The last time (over three years ago) I foolishly ignored my own council he has never completely grown back to his full glory - at this age I do not expect that he ever will.

Cilly Jordan

We have a 3/4 wolf mix/malamute. We have shaved her every summer, sometimes more than onc ein the summer as we live in Texas. Her coat has always grown back just as full and beautiful and she is now 11 1/2 years old without bug or cancer problems. She always perks up after being shaved and when she isn't and it's hot she is so labored she won't get up and move around at all. For her comfort and because we care about her, we shave.

Lori

I agree with you too. I have a 7 year old Border Collie/Australian Shepard mix and I've had her shaved down the last few summers...sometimes 3 times in a summer. She's happier, I'm happier with less hair floating around. I've had groomers say that it may not grow back the same. Who Cares I tell them. I'm not entering her in a beauty contest...but guess what. it always grows back the same. Don't believe everything you read. We know what our dogs like.

Melissa Dore

My Golden Retriever has/had the thickest coat my groomer had ever seen and we made the decision to give him a hair cut this summer - not shaving, but cutting. He developed some health problems, and went through an extensive list of diagnostic tests some of which required his belly to be shaved down to the skin. Turns out he has Cushings Disease, and his hair is not growing back . . . he looks ridiculous with that bare belly and bald patch on his leg from all the blood tests. Hope he gets some of it back by winter!

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