Grooming your dog is an essential part of summer care. Thick, uncared-for fur can trap warmth on your dog’s body, causing them to overheat and dehydrate. So how can you keep your pup cool in the dog days of summer?
To Shave or Not to Shave
It can be tempting to give your dog a “summer shave” once temperatures start to climb – especially if the breed originates cold weather climates. Resist the urge. Dogs with thick fur typically have a multipurpose, climate-controlled double coat. In the summer, their top coat will defend pups against sunburn, thorns and spurs, and pesky insects. With a full shave, this functional coat may not grow back properly.
Instead of shearing it all off, consider de-shedding. This will remove the dead undercoat from your dog to take away some of the insulation. Regular brushing prevents matting and dirt build up that can also keep your dog from getting heat relief.
Other dogs with a single-layer coat could be alright with their summer shave down. If you're unsure, consult a reputable groomer or even your vet.
In addition to thermoregulation, dogs need their fur to protect them from sun damage. If your dog needs a summer shave and has thin or light colored hair, apply a pet-safe sunscreen to their skin when exposed to UV rays. Ask your vet if you have concerns about sun-damage prevention.
Grooming Dos and Don’ts
Another factor of regular grooming requires care for dogs that enjoy a nice summer swim. After a swim or bath, use a cotton ball or tissue to gently wipe out the inside of the ear to prevent "swimmers' ear."
You can also use bath and grooming time to check your dog for ticks, skin irritations and new lumps or bumps. Feel and examine behind ears, between legs, tail and between the toes and pads. Toes and pads are notorious for hiding burs and other debris. Mud can also get trapped between their toes and lead to infection.
In between professional grooming appointments, keep giving your dog baths once or twice a month. Though they may get dirtier since they’re out playing more often, try not to overdo bath time. Too many baths can dry out your dog’s skin. Just a rinse will work after a day of fun! Also, don’t forget – don’t bathe dogs within 48 hours of topical flea and tick treatment application.
Not sure what kind of summer cut your dog requires? Ask your groomer! Their job is to know the best way to keep your pet happy and healthy through thick and thin (fur).