Newfoundland and puppy playing outside
Photo courtesy of Depositphotos
When temperatures rise, it can be a challenge to keep pets cool while still being able to enjoy the outdoors with our four-legged friends. One response is to shave dogs, but here are some factors to consider before reaching for the clippers.
Does coat clipping help dogs keep cool?
Dogs have different skin and hair than people. While wearing a sweater during summer might sound uncomfortable to us, in some breeds a thick and wooly hair coat actually prevents dogs from overheating by acting as a layer of cooling insulation. Dogs also don’t have sweat glands all over their body (just on their paws), so shaving won’t help your dog release more heat through sweating.
Additionally, many other factors besides hair coat affect how well dogs cope with heat. Dogs that are overweight (obese) can overheat easily. Because panting is an important way for your dog to cool off, dogs with short snouts (brachycephalic) can be more heat intolerant than other dogs.
What are the drawbacks of coat clipping?
Many dogs have their coats clipped without any problems. However, consider the following before clipping your dog’s hair coat:
- Clipping can injure the skin: Especially if the clippers overheat or the cut is too close to the skin, clipping can lead to burns, cuts, and scratches that become infected.
- Less hair can mean more sunburn risk: A dog’s hair coat helps protect the skin from sunburn. Without that hair, consider minimizing UV exposure by using sunscreen.
- Hair may regrow slowly: Many factors affect hair regrowth. If your dog has a health condition or medication that affects hair growth, the hair coat may be slow to regrow. In some dog breeds, clipping may lead to hair that grows back with a different texture or color.
If you decide to clip your dog’s hair coat, consider taking your dog to a professional groomer or your veterinarian to make sure the hair is cut properly.
What else can I do besides clipping my dog’s hair coat to help them with the heat?
Grooming your pet on a regular basis helps remove excess undercoat. Grooming will prevent and remove hair mats, which decrease air circulation around hairs. You can also help your pets cope with heat by providing shade and clean water while outdoors. During the summer months, avoid overexerting your dog and schedule runs and other activities to when the temperatures are cooler.