To shave or not to shave, that is the question. The mercury is steadily raising each day and I have seen more and more Facebook statuses gracing my wall about dog shaving. I have a lot of friends and of course have dogs. I have fielded questions, comments and tried to educate the masses on dog shaving. I must admit, this is a huge pet peeve of mine. For Pete’s sake… DON’T SHAVE YOUR DOG!
So many people fall for the “They must clearly be cooler in the summer months with freshly shaven skin” logic. NO! NO! NO!
A dog’s coat works like a thermostat. It helps regulate their body temperature in both hot and cold weather, similarly to duck’s feathers and down. The undercoat and outer coat form an
insulated barrier that keeps the temperature regulated. It becomes increasingly difficult for a dog to keep itself warm or cool with no fur. Dogs do not sweat like people do to cool
themselves. The mechanism of cooling by sweating is through evaporation. Since dogs only sweat in the pads of their paws this is not an effect method of cooling. A dog cools itself by
panting. Their coat does not effect their ability to pant.
Not only does the dogs coat act as the thermostat, it also is an efficient barrier to the sun and protects from harmful UV rays. Dogs have almost no pigment in their skin to ward off these
harmful UV rays and are very prone to sunburn and skin cancer. Would you hide your body all winter then head to the beach in an itty bitty bikini with out sunscreen? In essence this is
whats happening to your dog when you shave it and send it outside even for a few minutes to do its business. Rule of thumb, if its too hot out for you, its too hot for your dog. Make sure
your dog has access to plenty of cool water and shade at all times.
Other myths regarding shaving dogs: to prevent it from shedding and to help with allergen control. Allergies to dogs are one of two types, dander or saliva, not the hair. If a dog has
skin, it has dander so this is not preventable. There are some commercial solutions you can wipe on a dog to help with dander control but nothing prevents it. A dog sheds, end of story.
Regardless of whether the hairs are 1/2 inch or 12 inches it falls out when it dies, and is replaced with new ones just like human hair. The fur is not falling out because its hot. It is a
natural cycle that all dogs and cats go through a few times of year and there is no preventing
Dogs should only be shaved if it is medically necessary (surgery, hot spot treatment) or due to coat matting that is beyond hope (this is completely preventable). THREE REASONS YOU SHOULDN’T SHAVE YOUR PET
Hot out there! And if your Golden Retriever or long-haired kitty seems to suffer when the mercury rises, you might feel some temptation to break out your grooming tools and give your pets a full shave-down. We get where you’re coming from.
But wait! Put down those clippers! According to experts, you’ll be doing your pet a disservice.
- 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, Senior 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. 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.
- There are better ways to manage your pets’ coats to keep them cool: trimming and brushing. “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.
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. Stay cool out there!
THINKING ABOUT SHAVING YOUR DOG’S HAIR COAT FOR THE SUMMER? THINK AGAIN.
Contrary to popular belief, shaving your long-haired dog (or cat) will not keep him/her cooler during the hot, summer months.
Unlike humans, the skin of dogs and cats does not contain the vast network of blood vessels and sweat glands designed to dissipate body heat during hot weather conditions. True, dogs do possess sweat glands in their footpads, but these glands play a minimal role in overall thermoregulation. Despite being sweat-gland deficient, dogs and cats have an uncanny ability to vaporize large amounts of water from their lungs and airways, water that carries heat from the body when they pant.
Shaving pets for the summer can actually predispose them to sun burn and to heat exhaustion/heat stroke. Long hair and thick undercoats act as insulation against the sun’s rays and their effects. Coats that are kept well-brushed and mat-free allow for good air circulation through the hair, which in itself can actually have a cooling effect. On the contrary, matted, unkempt hair coats stifle air circulation and do little to help cool the body. In other words, daily brushing is a must during the hot, summer months.
Here’s a prime example: My 2 year old Boxer, Titan (who has a short hair coat) and my 8-year-old mix, Gobi ( who has long hair with a thick undercoat) love to go jogging with me. Both dogs are extremely fit, yet after 40 minutes in the Texas heat, Titan’s tongue is scraping the pavement, forcing regular water stops, whereas Gobi continues to just trot along like a canine
version of Forrest Gump, seemingly oblivious to the heat. Keep pets cool and comfortable during the summer by keeping them well-groomed and by always providing a source of fresh water and shade. But don’t shave them. If you do, you’re only defeating the purpose and you may end up with a very expensive veterinary bill on your hands.