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A summer haircut may help you feel more comfortable during hot, humid summer weather, but it won't have the same effect on your pet. In fact, cutting or shaving your pet's fur can actually compromise your furry friend's ability to remain cool.
Your Pet's Coat Provides Built-In Climate Control
Although wearing a fur coat in the summer might increase your risk of heat stroke, the same isn't true for your pets. Their coats actually provide a built-in heating and cooling system. During the winter, your dog or cat's fur offers warmth when it lays flat against the body. When temperatures soar, the individual hairs in your pet's coat stand upright, maximizing air flow.
Some breeds, such as Chow Chows, Alaskan Huskies, Sheepdogs, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Scottish Terriers and Shih Tzus, have double coats that keep them comfortable whether it's warm or sunny or snowing and frigid outdoors. The undercoat, the layer of hair closest to the body, insulates your dog's body during the winter. During the summer, the undercoat prevents your pet from becoming too hot by keeping cooler air next to the skin.
Cutting Your Pet's Hair Isn't the Best Choice
Cutting or shaving your pet's hair interferes with your dog or cat's ability to stay cool. Although you may have the best intentions when you turn on the clippers, your pet may have more trouble regulating heat after a shave or haircut. Shaving can even affect your pet for years to come if hair doesn't grow back again after a shave or grows in an abnormal pattern. The problem is particularly harmful if your dogs' undercoat doesn't grow back completely. Without that protective layer of hair, your dog will have trouble handling both hot and cold temperatures.
Sunburn isn't normally a concern when you have a furry pet - unless you shave or cut their hair. Hair protects their sensitive skin from the rays of the sun, preventing burns and reducing the skin cancer risk. Applying sunscreen before trips outdoors is a must if your dog has thin or shaved hair.
Fur also keeps all sorts of unpleasant things from coming in contact with your pet's skin, such as allergens, insects and lawn care products. Without the protection that hair provides, your pet may be more likely to develop painful rashes or bites after spending a little time in the yard.
Better Ways to Keep Your Dog or Cat Cool
The tips can help your pet stay cool during the dog (and cat) days of summer:
Allowing your pet's natural cooling system to do its job is the best way to keep your furry friend cool this summer. If you have a question about your pet's health or need to schedule an appointment, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.
Safe Bee: Should You Shave Your Dog for Summer? No Way, Vets Say, 5/22/15
Catster: Is Shaving Your Cat Okay?, 7/19/17
Washington Post: Dogs and Cats Can Usually Deal with the Heat, but Their Owners Must Be Careful, 7/9/12