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Recently, there is a popular belief going on that you should shave your dog during the summer months to keep him or her cooler. As dog guardians, it is our responsibility to understand if this would benefit in the dog care process. In my previous article, I discussed how you can groom your dog at home. In that article, I mentioned that shaving your dog should never be an option. If you are thinking of shaving your dog, read the following article before you make a final decision.
To shave or not to shave?
Let’s look at the reasons as to why you would want to shave your dog:
Presence of dog hair everywhere in the house:
This is a very simple problem and can be eliminated by regularly brushing as well as bathing your dog. Regular brushing tends to reduce shedding in dogs. You can also add a skin and coat supplement to his or her diet to reduce shedding.
Check out the article on excessive shedding in dogs.
You don’t have time to deal with the excess hair
It is normal. Sometimes we are so busy with work that it becomes very hard to keep up with the regular grooming process of our dogs. However, do not wait till the matter goes out of control. If you are not able to brush and care for your dog’s fur on a regular basis, consult with your groomer and fix a regular appointment so that your dog’s fur gets the attention it needs.
You are feeling hot and you feel your dog must be hot too because of all that fur:
This is a common misconception amongst most dog guardians. Dog’s fur do not act as sweaters or heat insulators during the warmer months. During warm season, the coat acts as an insulator against the heat. The coat actually helps to keep your dog’s skin cool in warm months and warmer during the cold months. The fur coat also protects your dog from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Hence, by removing your dog’s fur coat, you will expose your pup to feeling hotter, risk of skin cancer, rashes, sunburns etc.
Your pup is constantly scratching:
Scratching has no relation with your dog’s fur coat or the thickness of the same. The most common causes behind dogs itching and scratching are the presence of fleas or ticks or seasonal allergies. Sometimes itchiness can also result of too much bathing, poor diet and not properly tensing out the shampoo.
Your dog’s fur is matted and tangled
This is one of the conditions in which some amount of shaving might be required. However, before you make the decision to completely remove your dog’s hair, try to brush the hair as much as possible. If brushing can remove the mats, then go for brushing. Even if it takes you hours to get rid of all the mats, do that for your dog. However, in case brushing is not working for your dog and if the matt is becoming a breeding ground for parasites and other bacteria, shave off only the region which is completely matted. Do not shave off the regions containing healthy fur. Shaving should only be done by professional groomers and never attempted to be done at home unless you are a vet or a groomer yourself.
Some other articles you might be interested in:
12 amazing herbal remedies for kennel cough in dogs
Why do dogs love mud?
Why is agility training important for your dog?
So far, we have looked at the reasons behind why would someone want to shave their dogs. However, now let us look at reasons why should shaving the dog be avoided at all costs
Shaving your dog will lead to him or her heating up during the warm months. The dog’s skin has tiny muscles at the base of each hair follicle which allows the fur to stand and collect coolness from the environment. This allows your dog’s fur to reduce the temperature and cool down your dog. Your dog’s fur act as an automatic coolant during the hot months.
Risk of sunburn:
A dog’s skin is not supposed to be directly exposed to sunlight. That is why it is always covered in fur. If you shave your dog, it will expose your dog’s skin to the harmful UV rays of the sun which may in turn cause sunburn and increase the risk of his or her developing skin cancer. Sunburn is very painful to dogs just like it is to us humans.
Higher susceptibility towards various illnesses:
Your dog’s fur coat not only acts as a protector towards the heat, it also acts to protect your dog against illnesses during the cold months like tracheobronchitis, common cold, frostbite or hypothermia. Removing the fur coat of your dog will make him or her susceptible to all these infections.
Irritation of the skin
The fur coat of dogs keep the pollen, dust mites, dirt, gravel etc. away from their skin. If your dog has no fur to protect the skin, the skin will come in contact with everything around them. This can cause many types of allergies as well as skin infections.
Your dog may feel stressed due to the sudden absence of his or her hair. This may even cause your dog to go into hiding. Shaving the hair sometimes causes identity crisis in dogs and they may not eat for days.
What to do when shaving is the only option?
As I mentioned previously, in case your dog’s coat has gotten completely matted, it puts your dog at a risk of becoming the breeding ground for various bacteria and parasites. Matting may also cause other skin and health issues in your dog. Therefore, shaving down the fur might be the only option if your dog is suffering from completely matted hair which cannot be detangled by combing.
However, to get any part of your dog shaved, it is not advisable to do it at home. Take your dog to the groomer if shaving is needed. A professional groomer will shave only the required regions while leaving the rest of the fur intact. If the groomer is well-trained in the aspects of animal care, he or she would know that the fur needs to be saved as much as possible.
How to care for your dog after getting him or her shaved?
- If your dog had the unfortunate experience of getting his or her fur coat shaved, it is imperative that you provide your dog some extra care, love and attention for the next few days while the hair starts to grow back. A few pointers to remember at this stage would be:
- Do not leave your pup outside in warm or cold weather for extended duration of time.
- Do not take your dog out for a walk, run or hike when it is hottest.
- If you do take your dog on a walk remember to apply a good amount of sunscreen on his or her back.
- Make your dog wear a T-shirt when you take your dog for a walk or outside. This will protect your dog from any heat and will keep your dog cool. It will also protect your dog’s skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun. You can use a T-shirt for warmer months for a T-shirt combined with a sweater for colder months.
- Your dog’s skin may also get irritated as a result of being shaved. In case you notice any red spots on your dog’s skin, apply some Aloe Vera gel to soothe the skin and aid in the healing process. Keep a close eye on your dog’s skin for a few days from the time of shaving. The attention should be more towards the sensitive regions of your dog like the belly region as well as the face since it may be a while before the razor burns start to appear.
- Since razor burns can be very itchy and painful, keep a close eye on your dog and prevent him or her form scratching it. Scratching the regions of razor burn will only make the condition worse.
- As your dog’s hair began to grow back, get back into the everyday routine of brushing your dog’s hair. This will prevent the fur from getting matted again.
- Brush your dog’s fur every day to remove the dead hair, prevent matting and allow better circulation of air through the coat to keep your dog cool.
- Give your dog cool baths to cool down his or her temperature as well as to keep your pup clean.
- A dog’s sweat glands are present on the feet. Keep your dog’s paws trimmed. This will allow the sweat to evaporate and will cool him or her off.
- Experts and groomers suggest that it is good practice to keep your dog’s stomach region and legs trimmed off very long hair. This enhances the cooling process in your dog.
- If your dog is out in the backyard or if you are going for a hike, make sure that your dog has access to water as well as a shady region. Take your dog on walks and exercises during the coolest part of the day. Never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle even if it is for only a few minutes.
One point to remember is that whether you are working or not, you would groom your human child every day. Your dog is another of your kids. He or she deserves to be cared for like your own kid. Remember, your dogs are like toddlers who will never grow up. Therefore, they require regular grooming and caring. I know you love your dog and sometimes mistakes happen. It’s okay, as long as you don’t let it happen again. Therefore, make it a point to groom your dog on a regular basis at home. You don’t have to do a perfect grooming job like the professional trainers. Once a fortnight grooming may involve complete brushing of your dog’s coat, bathing your dog as well as trimming his or her nails while an everyday grooming must involve brushing your dog’s teeth, combing your dog’s fur and caring for his or her paw pads.
I hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions pertaining to this article or any other article on my blog, feel free to put your questions down in the comment section. I will be happy to answer them as soon as I can. If you have any anecdotes or stories you wish to share with the world, feel free to contact me on any of my social media channels. I will be happy to share your story with everyone.