To Shave or Not to Shave My Pet During the Summer?

Summer is here! With this these intense warm days upon us in the Comox Valley, we’ve switched to shorts and sandals and lazy days at the pool but we also have to think about how best to keep our pets comfortable, aside from putting their adorable winter jackets back in the closet.

With the multitude of different breeds, shapes, and sizes of dogs and cats out there the question we often get at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital is: Should I shave my pets to keep them cool in the summer?

Many breeds of dogs, such as poodles, need to be shaved and groomed year round due to the nature of their coats. But what about our long haired pets, or even pets with shorter hair that tend to get matted easily?

In general, an animal’s coat is designed by nature to protect it from all the elements. They are designed not only as a barrier to prevent sunburn, but also to help keep them warm in the cooler months, as well as to keep them cool in the warmer months.

The fur coat acts as an insulator for all types of weather but it must be kept healthy in order to properly insulate. Matted fur, or fur with a lot of undercoats that has not been brushed out, will not insulate properly as the air cannot circulate through the hair. If a coat is kept healthy with regular grooming, most pets should be able to regulate their temperature whether they have a short or long coat.

Certain breeds of dogs and cats are built for naturally cooler climates and have much heavier, denser coats, or coats that mat easily, which may make it more difficult for them to cool down naturally. Other breeds have a naturally stockier body build which will also make it more difficult to cool off even with a short coat.

Every pet will tolerate warm weather differently, so the best way to decide whether to shave your pet is to pay attention to how they handle the heat. Many sources suggest that if you do plan on shaving your pet try to leave at least an inch of hair to protect from sunburn, as well as chilly nights.

Other ways to help keep your pets cool in the summer are:

  • Brush your pets – this will help prevent/remove any thick undercoat or mats, which will allow the air to circulate, helping your pet regulate temperature naturally.
  • Provide unlimited access to clean, cool water.
  • Provide access to a shaded shelter at all times.
  • Keep your pets inside when it’s really hot outside.
  • Never leave your pet in a parked car – the inside of a vehicle can become very hot, very fast, even on days that don’t seem very hot, which can become life threatening very quickly.

Submitted by Van Isle Veterinary Hospital