Does a Dog's Fur Keep It Cool in the Summer?by Naomi Millburn
When mulling ideas for keeping Cutie relaxed and comfortable during the sweltering hot summer months, consider the type of coat he has. If he has a double coat, shaving his hair down might make him feel warmer rather than cooler, bizarre as that may seem.
According to the ASPCA, implausible as it may sound, a dog's thick fur -- if he has a double coat -- indeed serves to cool his body in warm weather, just as it warms him in the cold. A dog with a double coat has two layers of hair, the inner one providing insulation and weather protection and the top one that essentially protects the rest of the fur. The upper coat generally consists of coarser, thicker protective hair, while the bottom coat generally is denser and the hairs finer. The layer defends against potentially dangerous sunburn. Essentially, the double coat of canine fur functions as comfortable insulation for both hot and cold weather -- not a bad deal at all. Some breeds with double coats include German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, Saint Bernards, Scottish terriers, Samoyeds and Pomeranians.
Dogs with single coats, unfortunately, don't get the same type of weather protection as their double-coated counterparts, whether it's burning hot outside or absolutely frigid. However, there is one major benefit to single coated doggies, and that's significantly less shedding. Some examples of single coat doggie breeds are poodles, Maltese, Dobermans and Italian greyhounds.
Since double-coated doggie fur offers convenient thermoregulating properties, shaving it all off may not be the most helpful idea. Although in order to keep things tidy you may want to continue trimming your pet's coat as usual, avoid using scissors to snip off pesky mats. Of course, the last thing you want to do is jeopardize your dog's coat's sophisticated cooling mechanism when he needs it the most. If your doggie has a single coat, however, shaving may actually be useful in cooling him down.
Frequent grooming of your pet's double coat may also keep things a lot cooler, too. Instead of cutting out matted masses, take the time to patiently and diligently brush them out. The better kept your dog's coat is, the better its air circulation will be. Proper air circulation will keep your little one feeling cool and fresh even during the most uncomfortable "dog days of summer," pun absolutely intended.
Heatstroke is a dangerous problem for dogs regardless of coat type. Always be attentive to symptoms of heatstroke no matter what's going on with your pet's fur. Some common warning signs of heatstroke in dogs include excessive panting, bewildered staring off into space, fast panting, hot feeling skin, jerking of the muscles, labored breathing, weakness, rapid heart rate, fever, anxiety and reluctance to move. If you are concerned that dangerous heatstroke is a possibility, seek emergency veterinary care for the doggie immediately. In severe cases, heatstroke can even lead to fatal consequences in canines, so don't waste even a second.
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