We’re at the height of summer here in Jamaica, where the temperatures soar into the 90s accompanied by a high heat index. The humans are miserable, and so are the dogs. In an effort to keep Fido cool, some dog owners have opted to shave their dog, thinking that the animal will be cooler. But is it the right thing to do?
Unlike humans, who lose excessive heat through their sweat glands located in the skin, dogs lose excessive heat through panting. They lose a small amount of heat through the pads of their feet, but they do not have sweat glands the way we do.
According to Yona Zeltis McDonough from WebVet, “Dogs sweat from their paws, so shaving has little impact on dogs’ body temperature.”
Fur actually protects dogs during the summer. It protects them from biting flies and mosquitoes. Most significantly, at least in the case of white dogs, such as white German Shepherds, it protects them from sunburn.
Shaving a dog, especially breeds such as German Shepherds and Pomeranians which have double coats, can actually ruin the coat. Sometimes the hair will grow back sparsely, or have a softer texture, or the color will lighten. In some breeds, such as Pomeranians, the fur may not grow back at all.
It is best to find other ways to keep you dog cool in the summer. Curtail activities with the dog during the day when it’s hottest, provide cool water, and allow access to cool spots in your home. I like to put down wet towels for the dogs to sleep on. Sometimes I put chunks of ice in the folds of the towels, which the dogs really like.
If you really feel that shaving your dog is the best solution, speak with your groomer before picking up the clippers.