June 10, 2015

Heat Wave! Should You Shave Your Pet?

Heat Wave! Should You Shave Your Pet?

Summer is in full swing, and temperatures are heating up nationwide. 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 is ok to give your long-haired dog a “summer cut”—trimming her long hair may make it more manageable. It is best to allow a professional groomer to perform the haircutting, and never shave down to the skin or try to cut the hair yourself with scissors.

If you prefer not to cut your dog’s hair, that’s fine. Dogs with thick coats naturally shed so that they have a lighter coat in the summer. Remember to brush your dog’s fur and bathe her frequently as clean, brushed fur allows for better air circulation.

Of course, pet parents should remember to provide a shady area when taking your pet outside, and to provide plenty of water during hot days—hydration is key! For more important information on summer pet care, read our Hot-Weather Tips.