Now that Summer is upon us a lot of pet owners feel that its time to shave their dogs to make them more comfortable in the heat. Dogs are covered in fur coats and for us humans who can wear tank tops and shorts to keep cool, it can seem pretty unbearable knowing our 4 legged buddies are shvitzing in all that fur. Many don’t know however that dogs don’t truly sweat, at least not as effectively as humans. Dogs have only a small set of sweat glands in their paws, (unlike people who have them throughout their bodies),the rest of their “cool down” mechanism is through panting. So, not to worry about the sweats in that fur coat. Dogs most certainly get warm though, as anyone can tell when they have their pooch out on a sunny summer day. When I am out with my pack in the summer months, they are often searching for shade to keep cool, they definitely feel the heat and are more prone to sun stroke with the lack of sweating. Many assume that by shaving down their coats, they are allowing their dogs to stay cooler. Similar to us taking off a hoodie to cool off in our tank top. The problem with this is that dogs fur coats have developed over time to adapt to both cool and hot temperatures. Think of it like a built in regulation system, and by shaving off a layer of that you are interfering with that important system. Another possibility is sunburn. If you have a short haired dog especially and then shave it down further you are making your pet susceptible to sun burn.
So, “not to shave” would be my suggestion (as well as most in the veterinary field) but then how do we keep our pups cool and comfortable? Here are some simple suggestions:
- On super hot days, limit the time your pooch is out and directly in the sun. (Same goes for us humans!) Take time out of the sun to find shady areas where your dog can cool down. If your pooch is a smushy faced breed (pugs, boxers, bulldogs) be extra careful as they are even more prone to heat stroke. Same goes with senior dogs. (just like people!)
- Water! Obviously it is super important to keep our pups hydrated in blazing summer heat. Ensure they have plenty of water. I also like to cool their paws and bellies with water on especially hot days.
- Aside from the first two suggestions, you can also try different types of cooling gear. These are pretty cool (pun intended!) inventions I wish I thought of! Coats or vests filled with water help to keep your dog cooler in hot weather. There are a ton of different companies selling these products. You can also get cool down dog beds which are nice for older dogs especially.
- Above all, use common sense when out in the heat. Dogs usually* will let you know they are too hot. Don’t let your dog over exert himself in hot weather.
- Have fun with your pooch this summer and be safe! 😊
*some dogs, like humans will push the limits, so use your judgement / common sense, along with your dogs signals!