Heat Wave Approaching! Should I Shave my Petnapadmin
Well, winter has gone in a flash and we must get ready to usher in another long, hot summer. While you may be super-busy putting away the warm clothes and bringing out your tees, shorts, and swimsuits, as a dog or cat parent you also must be worried about your pet’s health and comfort this summer. A question most pet parents grapple with at this time of the year is – if wearing fewer clothes is good for me, shouldn’t it be good for my pet too? In other words, will shaving help her keep cool when the temperatures skyrocket?
In order to answer the aforementioned question, it is necessary to understand what dog and cat coats are for and how dogs and cats would fare without them.
We humans are designed to sweat in hot weather, sweating being the body’s natural mechanism to cool down and feel less hot. However, a dog’s “cooling system” isn’t like that of its human owners. While our sweat glands are located in our skin, those of dogs are located in their tongue and paw pads. This means when she is panting and breathing rapidly, she is sweating. It must be noted that this reflex action is her body’s way of cooling down.
Now, for her coat. Interestingly, a dog’s coat provides insulation both from hot and cold weather. Waterproof and protective, the coat shields her skin from the external environment. So getting rid of her coat would take away her natural protective lining of insulation. Subsequently, shaving in the summer can actually cause sunburn and overheating, even putting a dog at risk of skin cancer and heatstroke as their skin is much thinner than ours. Remember that dogs naturally shed hair which is their way of adjusting to seasonal changes, and all you have to do is make sure that her coat is well-brushed, clean, and free of tangles and matting.
Other than amplifying her cuteness factor, your feline friend’s fur serves numerous functions. It helps protects her skin from injuries, provides sensory input, helps keep her dry, and is even used to make involuntary communication (remember how her fur stands on end all through her body when she’s startled, frightened, alarmed, or just livid?) Most of all, her fur is an incredible insulator, keeping her warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather by trapping cool air against her skin. Not only does your cat not need a shave, shaving off her fur completely will in fact expose her to a variety of risks including overheating, sunburn, and insect bites.
Besides, do not underestimate your cat’s natural wisdom. Rest assured she’s quite good at finding places that are least hot in the house, and is smart enough to keep away from windowsills and other areas that have been directly heated up by the sunlight. Just make sure she has access to plenty of fresh water throughout the day, so she remains hydrated. Also, remember never to leave her alone in enclosed spaces like a car or a garage when the sun is blazing outside.
Shaving a dog is not recommended by experts barring specific reasons or circumstances, and no prizes for guessing that summer isn’t one of the reasons. Shaving may become necessary prior to a surgery, due to a skin disease like Myiasis, and owing to severely matted hair. Simultaneously, it must be noted that dogs with long and curly hair – a Poodle or Shih Tzu – can be given a cut in the winter as without a haircut such dogs will likely develop a matted coat (wintry dry air tends to exacerbate matting). However, it is always better to visit a professional groomer instead of doing it yourself with clippers or scissors. Bear in mind that shaving and clipping double-coated dogs such as Labradors, German Shepherds, and Siberian Huskies is not recommended and doing so can lead to a number of problems.
Likewise, your cat doesn’t really need a shave unless there is a specific reason such as in preparation for a surgery or because the fur has become so matted it is causing needless misery. Remember that your cat’s shedding will anyway see a natural increase during the hottest months of the year and that all you really need to do is take extra good care of her fur. Make sure to brush her every day and give her plenty of rubs to get rid of as much loose hair as possible.
So now that you know how your canine or feline pet is naturally equipped to cope with the impending heat wave, we advise you to fret not and have fun this summer!