Does Shaving a Canine Actually Make Him Cooler?

by Betty Lewis
    Try brushing your pup before taking the shears to him.

    Try brushing your pup before taking the shears to him.

    Polafernandez/iStock/Getty Images

    When the mercury climbs, it's natural to wonder how your long-haired pup is coping. After all, the last thing you're thinking about doing is adding a fur coat when the sun's beating down. There's a variety of things you can do to keep Buster cooler; shaving him doesn't help much.

    Functional Fur

    It makes sense that Buster's fur helps keep him warm in the cold weather, and it may seem logical that less hair would be suitable in summer. However, that same coat provides relief from the heat just as it does from cold. Just as your home's insulation keeps heat inside during the winter and out during the summer, your pooch's fur does the same thing. If he has a double coat, his undercoat traps a layer of body temperature around his skin while the long hair in his top coat provides a protective layer. Dogs with single coats don't have this built-in air conditioning, but their fur does protect them from sunburn and skin cancer.

    Thinning Out Helps

    If Buster's a dog more suited to cold weather, such as a Malamute, a day as warm as 90 degrees Fahrenheit may be more than he can handle, whether he has natural air conditioning or not. Thinning his coat with a wire or rake brush will remove a bit extra fur, yet still provide the natural benefit his coat provides. Thinning and daily grooming allows for air to circulate through his coat better, keeping him cooler on hotter days.

    A Little Off the Top

    If you make the decision to cut Buster's hair anyway, proceed with caution. A close shave may work for you, but it's not right for him. His coat still performs the same function, whether his hair is long or short, double- or single-coated -- it insulates and protects. When you shave off all his fur, he's fully exposed to the heat and sun. Dogs don't sweat. Having exposed skin only leaves him vulnerable to sunburn. Leave at least an inch of fur on your pooch. If Buster's a short-haired breed, leave his coat alone, because he runs the risk of sunburn.

    Keeping It Cool

    Before you take the clippers to Buster, try a few other things first. Keeping him indoors in a cool house is the best option. If he must stay outside, make sure he has plenty of shade for refuge. No matter where he is, he should have access to plenty of fresh, clean water. Keep your walks in the evening, when it's cooler. Frozen water bottles filled with water in Buster's bedding will help keep him cool. If he displays any signs of heatstroke -- excessive panting, rapid heartbeat, staring or vomiting -- lower his body temperature by spraying a hose on him or getting him in a tub or shower, and get him to the vet as soon as possible.

    Photo Credits

    • Polafernandez/iStock/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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