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Should I Shave My Dog in the Summer

Dogs should not be shaved in the summer as their coat helps them regulate their body temperature.

June 6, 2024 4 min read
Should I Shave My Dog in the Summer

With temperatures nearing triple digits in some parts of the country, it’s important to keep your pooch cool and comfortable. Shaving your pet may seem like the obvious answer, especially if you have a dog with a long or thick coat. However, shaving a dog in the summer is typically not the best approach. Let’s look at the drawbacks of shaving and alternative ways to keep your pet from overheating when it’s hot outside.

Can Dogs Overheat in the Summer?

Despite their ability to regulate body temperature in most environments, dogs can overheat when it’s too hot, much like humans. There are several symptoms that a dog may exhibit when it’s overheating, such as excessive panting, excessive drooling, rapid breathing, fast and irregular heartbeat, and lethargic behavior.

If your dog is unable to cool down, they can develop heatstroke. The signs of heatstroke are more severe than with general overheating and may include diarrhea, vomiting, purple gums, red skin, and collapse. If left untreated, heatstroke can be fatal. Therefore, it’s important to take your dog to a cool place and consult with your veterinarian.

Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Coat

While it may seem like a good idea to shave your pet’s coat off to avoid problems like overheating and heat stroke, shaving can often have the opposite effect. A dog’s coat acts like insulation, preventing them from getting too cold in the winter and overheating in the summer.

When it’s warm outside, a well-kept coat “lofts” as the animal moves, helping to move air to the skin. Dogs with double coats may seem to be at a greater risk of overheating, but in reality, their downy undercoat helps keep them cool and serves as a waterproofing mechanism.

The Problem with Shaving Your Pet’s Coat

Shaving your pet’s coat during the summer can have several drawbacks aside from increasing their risk of overheating. It can also cause coat damage. Shaving dog fur can essentially alter the color and texture of the animal’s fur, making it appear irregularly textured and even patchy.

When a dog is shaved down to the skin, their risk of developing sunburn also significantly increases. A dog’s exposed skin is highly sensitive to the sun and harmful UV rays can lead to painful burns, especially if a dog-safe sunscreen isn’t used. Along with sunburn, exposed skin is at risk for fleas, ticks, irritation, and other skin issues.

When Is It Appropriate to Shave Your Pet?

There may be certain times when it’s appropriate to shave your pet’s fur. However, shaving should only be performed in problem areas and not on the dog’s entire body. For example, your groomer may recommend shaving an area of fur that is severely matted as trying to remove the mats with other tools can be painful for your pup.

Shaving your pet may also be appropriate if your dog has very long fur or if the dog is older and starting to lose mobility, resulting in more frequent matting. In these scenarios, shaving the dog or simply trimming the hair can help increase comfort.

Finally, shaving your pet’s fur may be recommended to restart healthy hair growth. Shaving removes large amounts of hair at once which can help jumpstart the hair growth process. This approach may be more effective than hand scissoring when a dog has very long or thick fur.

Shaving vs. Trimming vs. Brushing Dog Fur

Making the decision to shave a dog’s coat rather than trim or brush it will depend on several factors, such as the animal’s age, breed, and the condition of the fur. Double-coated breeds, such as Huskies, Malamutes, and Pomeranians, should be brushed rather than shaved as they naturally shed their excess fur.

Long-coated breeds can usually be trimmed short but not down to the skin to help them stay protected from the sun. Examples of long and curly-haired breeds that can benefit from a trim in the summer include Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Bichon Frise, and Maltese.

It’s important to note that “shaving” a dog rarely means removing all fur down to the skin. Instead, a professional groomer will use the proper dog clipper blade or comb attachment to cut the hair short while still leaving enough to make the dog comfortable and look beautiful. Shears may then be used to create a finalized look.

Ways to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer

Take extra precautions to keep your pet cool when the temperature rises. Have plenty of cool water on hand, including when you’re out of the house. Bring along a portable water bowl and offer your dog water on a regular basis. You can also help keep your dog cool by letting him get wet. Take him to a nearby creek, pond, or river to cool off, or set up a small kiddie pool in your yard.

During the summer, ensure that your dog has a cool place to go when they get too hot. This will usually mean a home with air conditioning or fans they can lie in front of to cool off. If you plan to be out of the house for an extended period, consider investing in a cooling vest for your pet. Remember to monitor your dog’s activity and take plenty of breaks for hydration and rest.

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