Pet owners in hot climates often wonder if they should cut or shave their pet’s fur in order to make the pet a little cooler. After all, humans put long hair into ponytails and dress in lighter clothing, so why shouldn’t fur-covered friends get a break, too?
However, thick fur on a pet is not necessarily harming them in the heat. In fact, it has protective qualities. Still, there are times when shaving or trimming pet fur is fine – you just have to know when those times are.
5 Things To Consider When Cutting Your Pet’s Fur
Your average pet’s fur is designed to handle both hot and cold weather. When it’s hot out and the sun is beating down on everything around you including your pet, that fur acts almost like tree branches providing shade for a patio. The fur blocks the sunlight and heat from reaching the animal’s skin, thus reducing the temperature that the animal actually feels. If you shave off that fur, you expose the animal’s skin to a lot more heat, and that can make the day very uncomfortable for a pet.
Pets are also very good at judging their own tolerance. Your cat, for example, knows when it’s time to seek out shade. If you ever see a cat panting, though, get the cat out of the heat and call a vet.
Natural vs. Bred Coats
Shaving becomes complicated when you have a dog that’s been bred to have an extra-thick coat. A natural fur coat offers insulation, but those super-thick coats can be stifling. If the dog does not appear to be suffering, you likely don’t need to shave its fur. But if the animal does look uncomfortable, or if its fur is matted or damp much of the time, then shaving is a good idea.
Double-Coats and Texture Changes
Another problem for dog owners is that double-coated dogs don’t react well to shaving. The coats grow back unevenly, often with the undercoat overexposed. The dog can overheat more easily in this case, and the top coat and undercoat can become matted, leading to skin problems. The top coat often attracts leaves and other debris, compounding the problem. If you have a double-coated dog who appears to be distressed by the heat, see your vet to work out a solution.
Shaving for heat-related reasons should never remove all of the animal’s fur. A thin layer (an inch is a good limit) must be left behind to help protect the animal from sunburn. Even with that layer, though, keep an eye on the animal to avoid accidental overexposure.
Of course, good grooming in general goes a long way toward helping your pet stay comfortable. For both cats and dogs, use brushes that remove shedding hairs and brush the pet often. Provide lots of shady places for the pet to sit on hot day with lots of drinking water ready. If your air conditioning breaks and you are expecting a heat wave, the vets at North Dallas Veterinary Hospital can help you work out a plan to keep your pet comfortable.