Contrary to popular belief, there is no benefit to shaving your pet’s fur during the summer months. The fur of both dogs and cats is different from human hair and actually helps to protect them from the heat and sun. With a few exceptions, veterinarians advise pet owners against shaving their pets during summer.
Shaving a Dog in Summer
Dogs’ coats do not need to be shaved during the summer to keep cool. In fact, they may be more likely to become overheated if you shave their fur. Dogs’ coats are natural insulators, helping your dog to regulate their own body temperature during both hot and cold weather.A dogs fur keeps warmth close to their body during cold weather and locks in cool air during warm weather. Shaving your dog interferes with this natural thermal regulation system.
Many dog breeds have a double coat that combines a layer of long, stiff guard hairs with another dense layer of short fluffy hairs. This double coat is waterproof, protecting your dog from the elements, as well as acting as insulation against both hot and cold temperatures.
Shaving any pet puts them at a much greater risk of sunburn, which is painful and could lead to skin cancer – this includes Short-haired dog breeds. Your dog’s fur helps to protect them from both extreme temperature and harmful sun rays.
What About Cats?
Neither do cats need to be shaved to keep them cool in the summer. Like dogs, cats’ fur also provides insulation from extreme heat and cold. Cats have evolved to efficiently maintain their own body temperatures, and their fur coats are an important part of this natural thermal regulation system.
Because cats are so small relative to their overall surface area, they are highly efficient at getting rid of their own excess body heat. Remembering domestic cats can trace their origins to desert-dwelling felines and are particularly adapted to handling the heat.
Being rather small and mobile, cats are also able to move to shadier or cooler spots within your home if they feel too warm. When the air conditioner is running, don’t be surprised if you see your cat lounging in a sunny spot in front of a window!
Like dogs, cats can also suffer from sunburn, especially if they are shaved. Sunburn is just as painful for our four-legged friends as it is for us humans, and poses the risk of leading to skin cancer.
Your Dog’s Coat Type
It’s important to know what type of coat your dog has in order to groom them accordingly. If you have a purebred dog, your local or national breed club has a wealth of information about how to care for your dog’s fur type. If you have a mixed breed dog, talk with your vet about what kind of coat they have – you can even get a DNA test done to pin-point its breed heritage. Knowing if your dog is single or double-coated helps to make decisions about how to groom your dog.
Single-coated breeds of dog such as Bichon Frise, Kerry Blue Terriers, Poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs can have their fur clipped short because the process does not change the texture of their fur, it will keep growing and the texture and colour will be unaffected. Where as this is not true for double-coated breeds.
Shaving a double-coated dog removes all the long protective guard hair and much of the undercoat, leaving little fur for protection. Their coat no longer acts as a guard against the sun, which exposes your dog to greater risks, such as overheating, sunburn and possibly even skin cancer. Unless your dog has an underlying skin condition and your veterinarian recommends shaving your double-coated dog down for medical reasons, we highly recommend it is something that you should avoid doing.
Double coated dogs include breeds such as Akitas, Australian Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Pomeranians and Shetland Sheepdogs among many others. The fur of a double-coated dog can be damaged when it is shaved, and the impact long-term. You risk the coat growing back patchy or not at all – this is called post-shaving alopecia.
Keeping Double-coated Dogs Cool
Although a double-coated dogs fur may look like it would be hot, it is naturally designed to help keep them cool, the guard hairs help to circulate cool air across the skin.
Double-coated dogs are known to have sensitive pale pink skin under all that fur making them very susceptible to sunburn if their fur is cut short. The guard hairs are important to help reflect the sun’s rays, protecting their skin.
Grooming should be a regular part of life for all dogs and especially double-coated dogs. Keeping them well-groomed and free of mats is the best way to manage your dog’s coat at any time of the year, but especially in the summer months.
You want to give your dog a thorough brushing numerous times a week. And as dogs sweat from the bottom of their paws, pay special attention to your dog’s feet, keeping the paw fur between their pads, well-trimmed helps keep them cooler.
Avoid unnecessarily exposing them to the risks of shaving them during the summer. Your pet will be much happier and more comfortable with their natural fluff!
Apart from keeping your dog’s coat well-groomed and free from mats, the best way to keep your dog cool in the summer is to help your dog to avoid the heat. Always provide fresh, cool water for your dog and never leave your dog unattended in a car or outside. Being inside and in air conditioning during the heat of the day is best for all dogs. If you want to take your dog for a walk during the summer months, go out early in the morning or later in the evening once the sun is down and the pavement has cooled off.