With the temperatures rising, people begin to strip down to their bathing suit to cool off, but can the same be said for your pet? Of course they don’t have a bathing suit, but it can be common grooming practice for people to have their pets shaved and this especially rises in the summer months.
Owners certainly want their pet to be comfortable and it is often believed that shaving the hair can achieve this. However, depending on the type of breed you have this might not be the best option. If your dog is a breed which has what’s known as a ‘double coat’ it is advised NOT to shave their fur. A double coat means there is both a top coat made of tougher guard hairs and a bottom coat that is thick and soft.
Examples include breeds such as Pomeranians, Shetland Sheepdogs, Siberian Huskies, and Samoyeds. These dogs actually have coats which when properly maintained, act to keep your pet cool, by allowing air flow under the under hair and bouncing the hot sun rays off the top coat. Additionally, shaving your double coated dog removes the protective upper guard hairs which actually have a water-repelling function. With this gone, the soft undercoat gets matted and clumps together preventing your dog from being able to stay cool. Shaving dogs with short hair is also not advised as it can expose your pet’s skin to the sun and increases the risk for sunburn and skin cancer.
Long or short, your pet’s coat can change with the season. Have you ever noticed when the sun starts shining and the heat starts rising that you’re finding your pet’s hair all over the house? Typically, their warmer winter coat will begin to shed and adjust to the climate helping them to naturally cool down.
Owners of longhaired cats will often have their pets shaved into what’s known as a “Lion-Cut” to help keep them cool in the summer and reduce the occurrence of matts. Luckily for cats, there is far less concern for removing their coats in this way than there is in dogs.
Alternatives to shaving your pet include regular brushing. Regardless of the time of year, brushing will help maintain your pet’s coat (especially in double coated breeds!), take away any loose hair and pass as a good scratch for them! Additional cool down options include keeping your pet indoors, offering clean water (both for drinking, and playing) and providing sufficient shelter from the sun for them outside.
If you notice your pet is acting differently or you are concerned they are overheating, contact your veterinarian immediately and seek assistance. Excessive panting, difficulty breathing, drooling and weakness are signs of heat stress in pets.