Myth Behind the Summer Shave-Down for Dogs

Are summer shave downs good for dogs? Do dogs love it? Does it really keep them cooler?

As the temperatures rise across the country, many well-intentioned dog parents consider shaving your dogs to keep them more comfortable with the warmth and humidity. After all, we don’t want to wear a fur coat during the summer, so why should our dogs?

Common sense tells us that shaving off a dense fur coat would help keep dogs cooler in hot weather, but shaving your dogs down actually robs them of their own natural defense against summer heat and sunburn.

Dog fur is entirely different from human hair. For both dogs and cats, their fur coats help them regulate their temperatures in both cold and warmer weather, similar to insulation for our houses.

Unlike human hair, dog fur has different layers that are responsible for your dog’s comfort and temperature control.

If you do decide to trim down your dog’s coat during the next heat wave, keep these tips in mind.

Tips to Safely Shave Your Dog

  • Clipper blades heat up quickly! Make sure to use cooling clipper blade lubrication and rest the blades throughout the grooming session to avoid painful dermal burns.
  • Better yet, leave it to a professional. At-home grooming attempts may result in accidental lacerations and burns. In an effort to save a few dollars, you may find yourself at the emergency clinic getting your dog stitched up.
  • Leave at least an inch of fur. Leaving too little fur puts your dog at risk for sunburn, and a clip too close to the skin puts your dog at risk for ingrown hairs and irritated skin.
  • How do you know if your dog is at risk for sunburn? Check your dog for visible pink skin around the face, paying special attention to areas with thin hair, such as the ear tips. If you can see pink skin, it is possible that your dog could be vulnerable to sunburn.
  • If you are considering shaving because your dog has developed hot spots, seek help from your veterinarian. Hot spots are tender and may make your pup snippy when being groomed.

While shaving your dog down in attempts to help them beat the summer heat is typically discouraged, there are times the clip down may be of benefit. It a dog has a matted coat and is likely to often be wet, this dog’s thick damp coat is more likely to promote the development of skin infections or even to become a nest for flies. This can lead to a nasty condition quickly – maggots in the fur.

For the majority of our dogs, if the fur isn’t already matted, keeping the coat well-brushed is key. Coats that are kept well-brushed and mat-free allow for good air circulation through the hair, which in itself can actually have a cooling effect. On the contrary, matted, unkempt hair coats stifle air circulation, do little to help cool the body, and make the dog more likely to develop skin infections such as hot spots. Even for dogs that are prone to hot spots, routine brushing is advised before jumping to the clip down. Simply put, daily brushing is a crucial part of your routine during the hot, summer months.

I hope this gives you great information about the pros and cons of shaving your dog during the summer months.

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