When the temperatures rise and the sun is at its strongest, you’re not the only one feeling the heat—just think about how your dog feels under all that fur and hair!
Many people consider shaving their dog a necessary part of their hot-weather preparations. However, this may not be the best idea for your dog.
To Shave or Not to Shave?
If summer or hot weather to your dog translates to unlimited time inside with the cool air conditioning, there’s absolutely no reason to shave his coat.
Your dog’s coat has been specially adapted for those times he’ll need to brace the heat. According to Sonja Olson, DVM, “Dogs have tiny muscles connected to their hair shafts that allow the hairs to stand up and catch a breeze, which cools the dog.”
Because of this, certain dogs may overheat with a shaved coat, but not with an unshaved one.
“A dog’s coat is kind of like insulation for your house,” explains Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. “Insulation stops your home from getting too cold in winter, but it also keeps it from overheating in summer—and your dog’s coat does the same thing.”
Are There Any Downsides to Shaving Your Dog?
While there are definite hygienic benefits to shaving your dog, there is one major issue you’ll need to be aware of: sunburn.
Your dog’s fur protects his sensitive skin from the sun’s damaging rays. When you shave your dog, you’re taking away his protective barrier. Dogs, just like humans, can get sunburns and even skin cancer.
Monitor your dog’s sun exposure and limit extended periods of time outside without shade or protection. The sun feels the hottest between noon and 6 p.m. so take extra precautions during these hours.
If your dog has a coat that’s so short you can see his skin, or if he has especially pale skin or a white nose, you’ll need to do more to protect him.
Also, consider dog-safe sunscreens specifically made for canines.
Should You Shave Your Dog at Home?
Do It Yourself If…
You want to save money and you’re VERY handy with a pair of shears or an electric razor.
Collect the right equipment, mainly a(n):
- Electric pet trimmer
- Attachment comb for the trimmer, preferably an E comb, which purposely leaves 1 inch of hair to take the guesswork out of determining the right length
- Lubricant for the trimmer
These blades are extremely sharp and have the potential to seriously injure your pet on accident. It takes a skilled, steady hand to wield these around your pet while he may be squirming and uncomfortable.
Electric trimmers also heat up fast so you’ll need to be mindful about how close you get to your pet’s body or you’ll risk clipper burn.
Before taking on this activity, prepare yourself with everything you need to know about how to safely groom your dog at home.
Hire a Professional If…
You don’t have the patience or skill to wrangle your pet, or don’t trust yourself not to accidentally injure him.
You may need professional help if your dog has a double coat. These coats have a layer of fine hair that, when cut incorrectly, may not grow back the same.
Depending on your budget, it may make more sense to leave the hard (and potentially dangerous) work of shaving your dog’s coat to the professionals. After all, they know all the tricks to keeping your dog calm and his hair at a safe length to avoid sunburn.
Craig Davis, CEO and Chief Happiness Officer at www.vet-organics.com
Craig is the founder of Vet Organics, where he and his team share additional pet-related articles on the company’s blog. Vet Organics is an eCommerce provider of EcoEars and an array of premium natural products dedicated to the health and wellness of pets.