It is hot, hot, hot out there, and as a loving pet owner, you want your dog to be as comfortable as possible. 

That being said, is it always a good idea to shave man’s best friend? According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the answer to that question is “no.”

Your dog’s layered coat serves as insulation, which helps keep him warm in the winter and cool in the summer. His coat also protects him from mosquitoes, sunburn and skin cancer. If he spends a lot of time outside, he’ll need that.  

There are exceptions to that rule, when you might want to take Fido to your vet or to a professional groomer for a trim. If your dog has a thick coat that gets matted easily, first try to get him on a regular brushing routine that will prevent the mats from developing. He’ll love it, it will be quality time for the two of you, and it is good for his skin and coat. It will also reduce shedding and the amount of time you spend vacuuming up his furry deposits. 

If the mats are already there, a session with the clippers can remove them, making your dog more comfortable and giving him a stylish new look. Removing matted fur is necessary with all dogs because mats can impede free movement. When wet, mats invite bacterial and fungal infections of the skin.

Many dogs, such as German shepherds, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, etc., have double coats, meaning a soft coat beneath a thicker, coarser coat. Shaving double-coated dogs can irritate their skin, causing “hot spots” and excessive licking. It can permanently affect their coats, causing the hair to become brittle and break. In addition, the hair that does grow back may not be as shiny and soft, and the shedding problem might be worse than before. 

Veterinarians have reported that shaving a dog may harm his mental health because some dogs seem to get depressed when they lose their coats. Other dogs seem to like their coats clipped, and if your non-double-coated dog is inside most of the time, that might not be a problem. Check with your veterinarian to find out if there are any health issues with clipping that might affect your pooch. Remember: Clip the hair, don’t shave it down to the skin.

By the way, I haven’t found a single source who approves of shaving a cat, unless it is for medical reasons. Pull out the soft-bristled brush instead of the clippers for Mr. Whiskers.

 

— Pets and the People Who Love Them is brought to you by your friends at the Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter. To adopt a dog or cat, please come to the Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter at 1701 U.S. 72 (behind Limestone Veterinary Clinic), visit our Facebook page or call us at 256-771-7889.

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