Temperatures are on the rise which is great for a day at the beach or a picnic at the park unless we’re wearing a fur coat. Short or long hair doesn’t seem to matter. Our pups are just as prone to heat exhaustion as we are. In fact, some of us are more inclined for tropical weather, but there’s a limit for our canines. So, it’s only natural to consider shaving our poor pooches to give them some relief. From hiring a professional to harrowing hair tales at home projects, here’s everything we need to know before shaving our dogs.
To Shave or Not to Shave?
Our dog’s coats have been specially adapted for those times they’ll need to brace the heat. According to Sonja Olson, DVM, “Dogs have tiny muscles connected to their hair shafts that allow the hairs to stand up and catch a breeze, which cools the dog.” Because of this, certain dogs may overheat with a shaved coat, but not with an unshaved one.
So, if we can avoid shaving our dogs and focus instead on other ways to keep them cool, we’ll be doing them a favor. If air conditioning is available, that’s the best option. If not, we can be sure shade and lots of clean drinking water are available. And we can even provide cool gel packs for them to lie down on or, if we don’t mind a damp dog, offer a shallow pool of water for them to play and lie down in.
That said, there are some dogs who will be thankful for a short summer coat:
If summers include romps on the beach, a shorter coat won’t trap sand, so there will be less debris in our cars and homes. It will also help keep our pets cleaner throughout the summer.
Taking our dogs on hikes can be one of the best ways to spend time together. To help with the heat we can adjust our hiking schedule to early mornings and late evening. Shaving our canine’s coat will help us quickly spot ticks and fleas after our treks.
Dogs who prefer swimming in pools and lakes, or surfing at the beach will benefit from a shorter coat as well. It will be easier to rinse away harmful pool chemicals and saltwater. Plus, a close shave will help keep away mites that might choose to invade a moist, thick coat. For added peace of mind, we might also consider keeping an all-natural at-home treatment available for skin mites and parasites.
Some dogs love to roll around in the mud. Others were born to be well-groomed and shaved on a regular basis. Some dogs get incredibly embarrassed after a shave. But the fashionista-dog enjoys the lighter feeling and freedom of being fur-free. If this is the case, we’ll probably be keeping a close shave on the grooming year-round grooming list.
Sunburn – A Careful Consideration When Shaving Our Dogs
While there are definite hygienic benefits to shaving our dogs, sunburns are a real concern. Our dog’s fur protects their sensitive skin from the sun’s damaging rays. When we shave our dogs, we’re taking away an important protective barrier. Just like humans, our dogs can get sunburns and even skin cancer.
Here are just a few ways to help prevent painful sunburns and their related hairless health risks:
Control Hours in the Sun
Monitoring our dog’s sun exposure and limiting extended periods of time outside is critical. The sun feels hottest between noon and 6:00 pm, so taking extra precautions during these hours is important too.
Just like humans, safe sun habits includes wearing sunscreen. All dogs should wear sunscreen, but dogs with blonde noses or pale skin are especially prone. The big difference is that human sunscreens are not safe for dogs. Our sunscreens can contain zinc oxide, which is toxic for dogs. Luckily, there are dog-safe sunscreens specifically made for canines. Pay special attention to areas where the hair is short, the tops of their noses, and their bellies for when they lie on their sides or roll around on their back. And remember to reapply when they get out of the water!
Professional Pet Grooming VS DIY Home Shaving
Getting professional help with shaving our dogs is definitely the safest option. After all, they have the training and experience for proper grooming without injuries. And they will know the best cut for each dog’s breed. For example, some dogs have a double coat that may not grow back correctly if cut the wrong way.
If we are sure we want to brave the heaps of hair, here are a few pointers:
Use the Right Equipment
An electric trimmer is the way to go. We can get through the hair with ease and determine a specific length of hair. Just keep the blade cool by taking breaks. It’s too easy to cut too close to the skin without realizing it if we use scissors. And of course, an actual razor is out of the question.
Set the Scene & Get Advice
Before taking on this activity, being prepared is key. Have favorite dog treats ready to go, a cool, comfortable place that is free from distractions, and somewhere to pile the hair, so it doesn’t blow around the room or patio. And consulting a groomer or online forum or blog will help us avoid pitfalls.
While the best option is to responsibly manage our dog’s exposure to heat and sun, shaving our dogs is an option worth considering. For some breeds and lifestyles, it can be more hygienic and safe, as long as we take the proper precautions with sunscreen and limited exposure. Leaning on a professional, whether for actual grooming or professional advice, will ensure our furry friends are safe and comfortable. Afterall, there’s no reason to turn a hairy situation into a harrowing hair-raising tale of DIY home haircuts.