Should you shave your dog’s fur short in the summer?

July 18, 2020

Many pet owners are tempted to shave their pet to help them stay cool during the hot summer months. Is this a bad idea?

It’s a hot summer day and you’re planning to go on a long walk with your dog. But you think the heat might be too much for your furry friend. Your solution is to shave their fur to stop them getting heat stroke. But wait, is this anthropomorphist move potentially harmful? Here are some pointers on a subject that’s more complex than it seems.

What purpose does fur serve?
All dogs moderate their body temperature with their tongues and paws, unlike people who sweat through their skin. Fur serves as an insulation which protects a dog from heat and keeps their body temperature down. For a dog, fur is not necessarily a source of discomfort during the summer months.

Should we trim their fur during the summer?
Depending on your dog’s breed, shaving their fur could in fact be counterproductive. Some canine breeds have two layers of fur: a primary layer, which is longer and gives the dog its colour, and a secondary layer, an undercoat of shorter fur covered in sebum which protects against variations in temperature. This shorter fur creates a pocket of air that buffets against heat and cold. If you shave your dog, you will expose them to the negative effects of the sun and bites from insects and mites. 

What about dogs with just one type of fur? It’s best not to shave them either! A dog’s skin is thinner than ours. Without their fur, they’re at greater risk of burning in the sun.

Which breeds can be shorn?
Some breeds have fur that grows constantly and requires regular grooming. For instance, Shih Tzus, Yorkshire Terriers and Cocker Spaniels can all be shorn during the summer.

Dogs with curly fur, such as Poodles and Curly Bichons, must also be groomed on a regular basis as they don’t shed. Without regular grooming, these dogs will suffer from the summer heat. But be sure to keep a sufficient length of fur to protect your pet from the sun’s rays.

How to protect your pet from excessive heat?
There are other ways to protect your 4-legged friend from heat. Frequent brushing will help keep surplus fur to a minimum. It also allows a comfortable flow of air and helps prevent heat-related skin infections, sometimes called hot spots. If these appear, it’s important to shave the fur from around your pet’s lesion so that you can properly disinfect.

During a heat wave, be sure to give your dog plenty of water and keep them out of the sun for long periods. Read more in this article on heat stroke to better protect your pet this summer.


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