Find food that fits your pet’s needs
Find a dog food that fits your pet’s needs
Find a cat food that fits your pet’s needs
The sun is shining and the weather is warm. As a caring pet parent, you'll do anything necessary to take care of your pets, and now that summer is here, you're wondering if all that fur is going to overheat your dog or cat. Can you keep pets cool on hot days by shaving them? Should you learn how to shave a dog or cat?
Read on to understand how pets cool themselves when the weather is warm, and whether or not shaving your pet is a good idea.
The Basics on Fur and Temperature
When humans are hot in warm weather, they sweat. When dogs are hot, they pant to cool off, and cats sweat through their paws or lick their coat. You may worry that all that fur will overheat your pet — especially if you have a double-coated or long-haired cat or dog — but in actuality, the coat acts as insulation to keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) says, "When a dog is hot, it not only pants to regulate its body temperature (since dogs don't sweat through their skin like humans) but their coat traps the air in closest to the skin and keeps it the same temperature as their ideal body temperature."
Cats, on the other hand, bathe themselves or release sweat through glands on their paws to keep themselves cool.
Is Shaving Your Pet Recommended?
You might think shaving your dog or cat is a kind approach to keeping them cool, but it isn't recommended. When you remove your pet's coat, you're also removing their ability to cool themselves off. The AKC reports, "If you shave a dog down to the skin you not only increase the risk of heatstroke but [of sunburn as well]."
Your pet's skin is very sensitive, and clipping their coat puts your dog or cat at risk of a shaving injury. In the case of accidentally lacerating the skin, you should call your veterinarian immediately. Remember your pet's skin is more sensitive than yours, so cuts to it can be a greater risk to your pet. Additionally, you may just give them a seriously bad haircut.
And speaking of haircuts, while shaving is not recommended for your pet, a trim may be an option for long-haired cats and dog breeds, such as the Maltese, Lhaso apso, and Shetland sheepdog. These are often called "summer cuts," and while they may remove some hair, they won't affect that layer of insulation your pet's body needs to stay cool.
Is There Any Reason to Shave Your Pet?
Shaving isn't a good idea if you want to keep your pets cool on hot days. But there is one reason why your groomer may recommend shaving your cat or dog, and that's if your pet's fur is matted. Your groomer may recommend shaving as a final option for fur treatment to keep their coats healthy.
Don't worry if you don't know how to shave a dog or cat; shaving your pet is not a DIY task. If your pet does, in fact, need to be shaved, it's best to bring them to a professional groomer. Just remember to check with the groomer (and potentially even your veterinarian) to find out what type of pet sunscreen is best to use on your dog or cat to keep them safe while they're out in the sun.
For the best way to keep pets cool on hot days, make sure they have access to water to stay hydrated, shade and other cool environments, and it's best to leave their fur alone unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian. Finally, make sure you consider their outdoor activity level on hotter days in warmer climates. The long walks that you took in spring could cause your dog to overheat on a hot summer day. In stead, take shorter walks or reduce time playing outside, and find new ways to play with your pet indoors.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Instagram @ErinOllila or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.