There are subjects pertaining to pets that are controversial. Declawing, tail docking, ear cropping, diets, and whether or not to shave a pet are pretty much up there on my top 5 list. As we are now into the hot seasons of the year, this is a timely discussion. I do believe that certain pets, with certain lifestyles, that live in climates that might not ideally suit their thick coats often seem relieved to be shaved. But this does not go for all pets. There are arguments to me made, and reasons why shaving might not be a good option for your pet. Read this and decide for yourself.
The ASPCA does not think it is a good idea to shave your pet. They cite the following reasons:
1. Their coat may actually provide heat relief. A dog’s coat functions as a kind of insulation. It not only stops them from getting cold in the winter, but it can also help prevent overheating in the summer. That is because a dog’s coat has several layers, as in double-coated breeds. The undercoat functions to keep heat away from the skin and the body.
2. Your dog and cat’s coat prevents them from getting sunburned and from skin cancer. Pets with thin coats, or white or lightly colored coats are especially vulnerable to the sun and it’s damage. To further prevent these issues, save longer dog walks for evenings, when it is not just cooler, but there is less direct sun. Consider applying pet-specific sun block to thinly covered areas such s the bridge of your dog’s nose, the tips of his ears and his belly. Thin coats, as well as those with white or light-colored coats, are especially at risk for sun damage.
3. There are other ways to manage a pet’s coat to keep her cool, such as trimming and brushing. Especially in the case of long-haired dogs, it is ok to trim the hair back, such as that which hangs down on the legs. In the case of a long-haired kitty, they recommend to leave the coat intact. Instead, brush her a little more frequently during the summer months.
So that is the ASPCA’s official position. The opinion of veterinarians in general will vary. But, for what it is worth, I think that cat’s coats should remain as such, unless they are badly matted. Then, contact someone to help you clip those mats, which are often just next to the skin, painful, and it is easy to cut their skin, and then create two problems where there was one. Also, cats that cannot clean themselves properly, for medical reasons, or if they are so overweight that they cannot reach their private parts areas, should also be clipped in that area. Indoor only, and indoor-outdoor cats need their coat. Also, it can be very stressful for most cats to be shaved, and so best to avoid unless necessary.
Dogs, I feel, do best with their natural coat, as long as the skin and coat is maintained well. Still, there are many thick coated dogs that get clipped shorter, but not shaved, in the warmer months, and the owners swear they are much more comfortable and happy that way. I agree that some dogs do feel better. If they live inside, and they enjoy it, I am fine with it. The “puppy cut” is a good half-way point, and my own dog gets it regularly. She also easily mats, so she is happier this way, I am convinced. I just don’t keep her outdoors during the high noon sun for long
Also, those prone to hot spots, particularly during the warmer months, will benefit from shorter hair. This way we can more closely monitor the skin and catch such lesions early, and more easily treat them.
There are also dogs who are unable to keep their private parts clean, for the same reasons as cats. Trimming to better air out and clean the area is helpful.
There are breeds, such as Collies, that really do not enjoy being shaved. Double-coated breeds, as mentioned, have an undercoat that helps to “insulate” against the summer heat, and should not be shaved. It sounds as if this would conserve heat, but in fact it traps hot air between hair follicles, preventing the hot air getting closer to the skin. Outdoor dogs should do better with their coat intact. For them, during the warmer months, while outdoors, try to provide them with adequate shade and cool water for drinking and bathing.