Is it a good idea to cut your dog’s fur when it’s hot?

Szénási Szimonetta

2024. May 4 - Photos: Love My Dogz

As summer approaches, many people are cutting their long-haired dogs' coats short. Will this help keep your pet warm?

In recent days we have already had a taste of the summer heat, so it’s time to ask how you can keep your dog cool in the heat. Some owners already start to cut their dog’s coat at this time. There are some safe and effective methods, but there are many misconceptions in this area, which can have serious health risks. We list some of the misconceptions and give you some useful advice on how to keep your dog cool in the heat.
During the heatwave, like this English bloodhound, most animals spend the day resting / Photo: Love My Dogz

Don’t shave it!

Let’s start with one of the biggest misconceptions, namely that dogs should have their har shaved. It may seem perfectly logical that a thick, stuffy coat is too hot in the summer months, so getting rid of it will only make things easier for the animal. But it is far from that simple! In fact, sometimes it can have the opposite effect.
In order to understand the function of fur, let’s first briefly review the different types of fur! There are double-coated breeds. In their case, the lower layer of fur acts as insulation; heating in winter and cooling in summer. During shedding, just enough of this layer is shed to allow the remaining fur to ventilate and keep the air in to provide optimum body heat. This explains why shaving off this natural thermoregulatory supplement is harmful. Dogs shed less of the outer coat, which is used to protect against external damage such as sunlight or insect bites.
Breeds with double coat include the golden retriever, the border collie, the Labrador Retriever, the German Shepherd, the Siberian husky and the English springer spaniel.
Huskies also have a double coat that heats in winter and cools in summer

Shaving increases the risk of skin cancer and heat stroke

The above explanation is confirmed by Dr Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinarian of the American Kennel Club, who points out that shaving double-coated dogs, or even trimming the coat too short, removes protection and insulation, increasing the risk of heat stroke and skin cancer from sun exposure. In addition, the hair follicles can be damaged and the cut can cause irreversible disruption to hair growth. In other words, your pet will never have a coat like before. Why? The undercoat, which grows faster after shaving, can crowd out the outer coat, causing the dog’s coat to lose its original function, become patchy and even change colour.
It is also important to be aware that dogs, unlike us, do not regulate their temperature by sweating, but by panting. For the record, they have sweat glands similar to ours, but on the pads of their paws, which are activated in hot weather. They can also control their body heat by vasodilation. Blood vessels dilate, especially in the ears and face, cooling themselves.

Care of the single coat

Dogs with a single coat, such as the Dalmatians, boxers, greyhounds, poodles, or the Maltese dogs require different care. They may need professional trimming from time to time, but it is better to leave this to a professional. A trained groomer knows how and how long to cut back the fur. Otherwise, they are also at greater risk of heat stroke or sunburn.
For this reason, the vet recommends leaving at least 3 centimetres of hair on the dog’s body for protection.
The single coat of boxers requires different care

How to effectively cool your pet

From the above, it is clear that clipping the coat does not contribute at all to the comfort and cooling of the dog. Instead, here are some ways to help your four-legged companion get through the warm months:
  • Regularly comb through your pet’s coat to help remove dead hairs. This will allow the fur to ventilate better.
  • Depending on the breed, bathe your dog regularly. In the summer, it’s also nice for them if you wet their coat. Cool (but not cold, especially icy!) water helps to cool things down.
  • Professionally removed hair from between the fingers helps to dissipate heat more efficiently.
  • Always have fresh, cool water for the dog.
  • Go for a walk during the cooler part of the day – early morning and late afternoon/evening in summer – and choose somewhere with shade. Carry water for both of you when you go for a walk. Keep your pace comfortable and stop to rest if you need to.
We hope it goes without saying that you should never leave people or animals alone in a locked car for even a minute! Few people realise it, but dogs can get a fatal heat stroke at 20 degrees Celsius. This article explains why, and which breeds are at greater risk.
bunda Cancer cooling double coat fur hair trimming heatstroke shedding skin cancer summer summer hazards sun

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