Okay, global warming or not, the summers aren’t getting any cooler. The heat is getting too much for us, and we don’t even have a thick coat of fur on our backs. So just imagine what our dearest four-legged friends must be going through in the sweltering summer heat! We all want the best for our darlings, so why not shave their fur off and help them cool off? It may seem like a no-brainer, but things are not that simple. Vets and grooming experts discourage the practice of completely shaving your dog’s fur. Let us take a closer look at why exactly.
Permanent Hair Loss: For starters, dog fur is NOT the same as human hair. It doesn’t grow back in the same way as ours do, nor at constant rates. In some cases, it may NEVER grow back. So think twice before taking that extreme step with your pooch. She might never be the same again. And it could cause lasting damage to her skin and health. The risk is acute for breeds with a thick double coat. For breeds with shorter single coats, like the Shih Tzu and the Bichon Frise, shaving can be a safe and often beneficial step. Always consult your Vet before taking any action.
A Natural Cooling System: A dog’s temperature regulation system is quite different from our own. When we look at a dog with a thick hairy coat, we often equate it to us wearing a thick winter coat. But that is the wrong analogy. Dog fur actually helps insulate their bodies from outside temperature and keeps them cool, much like a well-insulated home protects us from outside heat. Remove that coat and they are left exposed.
The risk of Sunburns and Allergies: And exposure to the sun is a strict no-no for a dog’s exposed skin. It is not as sturdy as ours and is not designed to handle direct sunlight. When you shave a dog, you are exposing its skin to the sun for the first time in its life probably. At times, even a few minutes out in the sun would be enough to give it a real bad sunburn.And a dog’s skin shorn of its protective coat is also very sensitive to dirt, pollen, mites, and allergens. Without its protective coating, the skin can fall prey to allergies and other potentially dangerous health issues.
Alternative and Tips for Beating the Heat
If you have a breed with a long fur coat, getting some of that extra fur trimmed, preferably by a grooming expert could be a safer alternative. But in most cases, dogs usually shed excess fur on their own in summer months. Brushing their coats in these high-shedding periods will help a great deal in keeping them cool. If the mercury rises too high, a belly shave by an expert might help. That part of the body is seldom exposed to the sun, and it can be easily cooled by your dog lying down in a cool spot. Also, keep in mind the following things make summers less of a problem for your dog:
- Don’t leave them outdoors for too long in the hot sun.
- Keep them hydrated, with plenty of water around.
- Never leave your dog alone in a vehicle in the middle of the day.
- Take them out for walks and runs in mornings or evenings, not when the sun is up.