As temperatures rise, we want to do whatever we can to keep our pets feeling cool and comfortable. It may seem logical to give your furry friend a shave to lighten his coat, but this can actually do more harm than good for many dogs.
Keep reading to find out why you shouldn’t shave your dog’s coat, and what you should do instead.
Understanding the Function of Your Dog’s Coat
In order to effectively care for your dog’s coat, you need to understand its functions and needs.
Some dogs—Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, and German Shepherds, for example—have double coats. This means that they have two types of fur: an outer layer of thick, tough fur, and an insulating layer of soft, fluffy undercoat.
Double coats function as built-in climate control. You may notice that your pup is prone to extra shedding in the spring; this is because he’s exchanging his heavy winter coat for a lighter summer coat by getting rid of that insulating bottom layer.
There’s a reason he keeps that outer layer, though. By shaving his coat, you would essentially be interfering with your dog’s natural temperature control and protection from the elements.
That said, some breeds do benefit from a shorter coat in the summer. If your dog is one that would benefit from a fresh summer cut, take him to a professional groomer and make sure to leave at least an inch of fur.
4 Reasons Not to Shave Your Dog’s Coat
As humans, we typically remove a layer of clothing when we want to cool off and avoid putting the “sweat” in “sweatshirt.”
Dogs, on the other hand, cool off in a much different way—they rely on panting rather than sweating (with the exception of small amounts of sweat from the paw pads). With that in mind, shaving your dog doesn’t actually have much of an impact on his temperature regulation.
Your pup’s fur is there for a reason, which is exactly why you shouldn’t be shaving his coat in the summer.
Fido needs his fur because:
It already acts as built-in climate control.
Your dog’s coat already acts as a natural system for staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This is especially true for double-coated dogs. When you shave your dog, you’re pretty much throwing that system out the window.
Plus, that outer layer of fur can reflect the sun’s rays. When there’s nothing blocking the skin from the sun, your pup is more prone to overheating.
It protects the skin from sunburn.
Did you know that dogs can get sunburns? Not only are dogs susceptible to sunburn, but severe or frequent sunburns can lead to more serious complications down the road.
Your dog’s coat guards his skin against the sun, protecting him from burns. For added protection, you can also apply dog-friendly sunscreen onto your pup, or even protective dog clothing such as sun shirts and hats.
It protects the skin from twigs and burrs.
If you and your dog are outdoorsy types, you’ve likely come across your fair share of twigs, burrs, and pests. While you don’t necessarily want this stuff getting caught in Fido’s coat, you certainly don’t want it scratching or poking him, or getting stuck on his body.
Your dog’s fur acts as a protective barrier, keeping the bugs and debris away from his skin.
Shaving can damage the coat.
If you shave all of your dog’s fur, the new hair is bound to grow eventually. Instead of growing in its natural stages, though, the top and bottom layers of fur will grow at the same time, when the bottom coat should really be coming in later.
When these two types of fur get mixed together, your dog’s coat will feel a bit like velcro, collecting burrs, twigs, grass, and more whenever he goes outside. Plus, that new texture of Fido’s regrown coat is more susceptible to matting and hot spots.
How to Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer
While shaving your dog isn’t the best way to keep him cool, there are plenty of alternatives.
Brush your dog’s fur regularly to avoid matting and hot spots, and to improve air circulation in the coat.
Trim any long hair on your dog’s paws. Not only can that long fur between the toes collect debris and lead to discomfort, but it can also allow sweat on the paw pads to evaporate and keep him cool.
Give your dog regular baths to keep him clean and free of debris and pests. Be sure to use a dog-friendly shampoo, such as Pet Honesty’s Chlorhexidine Shampo which is great for cleansing and reducing odors.
When you spend time outside, make sure your dog has easy access to cool water and shade at all times. Go for walks during the coolest times of the day, and when you’re inside turn on the AC or make sure there’s plenty of air flow.