Living in Florida, it gets hot.
I don’t mean warm.
I don’t mean “It is hot but in the shade it feels great.”
I mean hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Hot enough to debate all of my life choices that lead me to live in this climate.
I mean dogs panting and giving up mid-walk hot.
But, no matter how hot it is, I am always asked the question: should I shave my dog down to the skin to keep them cool? Shaving your dog may seem like an obvious way to help them, but it may cause other issues. That is because there are breeds of dog – breeds with double coats– who’s fur actually keeps them cool in the summer and warm in the winter – like a built-in air conditioner. Additionally, a dog’s coat acts as a natural sunscreen. So, what is a pet parent to do? There are a few things to keep in mind before you pull out the clippers.
Risks of shaving a dog in the summer
Before we get into the difference between double coated breeds, there are a few reasons that shaving a dog in the summertime can be dangerous. Unnecessary shaving can lead to:
- Greater risk of skin cancer
- Greater risk of heat stroke
- Difficulty growing the hair back
Is my dog a double coat breed?
Double coated dogs have two layers of fur. The underlying coat protects the skin from sun damage and heat, while the outer coat provides a layer of insulation. Think of it like a metal travel coffee mug – you can put hot or cold inside of it, and either temperature lasts.
Dogs with double coats will naturally shed some of their outer and inner layers, which is normal. However, to shave your dog will remove that protective layer of fur and will put their skin at risk of sunburn – not to mention it wreaks havoc on their ability to regulate their own temperature.
A few common double coated dog breeds are:
- Australian shepherds
- Siberian huskies
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Shiba Inus
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Miniature Schnauzers
Reasons you SHOULD shave your dog
Proper grooming does not always mean shaving. In fact, if you bring your dog in for regular grooming appointments, they won’t need to be shaved at all unless you request it, because routine grooming keeps the coat from matting and becoming damaged. Some reasons you should shave your dog include:
- Severe matting
- Upcoming surgery (shaving a particular area)
- Skin irritation needing a clean, dry treatment
Alternatives to shaving dogs to keep them cool
Your dog does not need to be bald to stay cool. In fact, keeping your dog cool can be as easy as staying hydrated, playing in shady spots, and scheduling playtime and walks during cooler times of day (like the early morning or late evening).
To keep your dog cool, you should also schedule regular grooming appointments. Regular grooming will remove matted or extra hair and will help facilitate normal shedding. Grooming appointments will also ensure that any skin irritation your pet is experiencing under their coat is noticed so that you can provide proper treatment.
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 year and operates a rescue farm in Lutz, Florida. She also is the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop, and the founder of CBD Dog Health. Angela has five dogs, plus 4-10 at any time that she is fostering or boarding; visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.