4th July 2018
With summer temperatures starting to rise, many dog owners may be starting to worry about their pets getting too hot. Whether you’re worried about your pooch getting sunburn or dehydrating in the heat, there’s a lot to think about during these summer months. One of the biggest questions though, is whether we should shave our dog’s fur during hot weather.
Many people’s initial reaction to this question is ‘yes’, as it’s widely believed that fur keeps our furry friends warm. Although there are some exceptions, most pet care professionals do not recommend shaving a dog’s fur in the summer, for a number of reasons. From sunburn to heat stroke, here’s why it’s advised not to shave your pooch in the summer.
Although a dog’s hair is generally referred to as their ‘coat’, this doesn’t necessarily mean it keeps them warm. Contrary to this common misconception, their coats actually keep them cool in warmer weather. Many dogs, such as terriers, retrievers and Alaskan huskies, have a double coat, meaning they have two layers of fur; an undercoat of short hair followed by a top coat of longer hair. This double coat is protective and waterproof, and more importantly, insulates your pooch come rain or shine.
Similar to insulation in a house, which aims to keep your home a consistent temperature all year round, this double coat helps your four-legged friend maintain a healthy temperature, whatever the weather. This means that they don’t have to be wrapped up in the winter, but also don’t have to be shaved in the summer.
Although the general rule is to not shave your dog, this usually only applies to double-coated dogs. If you have a single-coated breed, such as poodles, you can get them shaved from time to time, but you should never leave them with no hair at all. Groomers and vets recommend that your dog should always have at least one inch of hair on their bodies, to protect them from potential skin issues.
One of the main hazards of shaving your dog in the summer is increasing the risk of sunburn. On hot days, dogs tend to enjoy lying in the sun, and their fur works as a sunscreen. If you remove their coat, their skin will be exposed, leading to a greater risk of sunburn, skin cancer and heat stroke.
Whether your pooch is excited, running around, or simply sat with the family, dogs pant all year round for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons, however, is to cool themselves down. Dogs can’t sweat through their skin like humans, so they have to sweat through their paw pads and by panting. Panting helps to circulate air around their bodies, cooling their whole body down, though it’s worth remembering that if your pooch is panting heavier than usual, it could be a sign of overheating.
If you do decide to shave your dog over the summer period, be sure to leave at least an inch of fur to protect them as much as possible from the sun’s rays. It’s a good idea to ask your vet or groomer for advice first, if you are thinking about shaving your furry friend, as they may be able to offer you an alternative option. If shaving is the last resort, be sure that you get a vet or groomer to take care of it, and don’t try to do it yourself at home if you’ve not done this before.
If you are worried about your dog getting hot in the summer, here are a few top tips to keep them cool that don’t involve shaving their coats:
• Stay hydrated – Always make sure your pooch has enough water available, as, just like humans, they’ll need a lot more in the heat to stay hydrated.
• Check their paws – When the sun is out, pavements can get hot, causing your dog’s paws to burn. Use your hand to gage the temperature, and if it’s too hot for you, it’s likely to be too hot for your furry friend too.
• Block out the sun – If your pet is too hot, they’ll typically move themselves into a shaded area. However, if there are no shaded areas available, you’ll have to make one for them. For example, if your dog is sitting in the house and the sun is blazing into the room, shut the curtains to keep them cool.
• Brush your pet – Brushing a dog’s coat helps to remove any loose fur from their undercoat, which will help to circulate the air around their skin.
• Get pet insurance – If your dog does unfortunately get any injuries or illnesses from the sun, it’s always best to be covered by suitable pet insurance. Here at Asda Money we have a range of pet insurance cover types available. Find out more about Asda Money Pet Insurance underwritten by Fairmead Insurance here. Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered.
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