By Emsie Martin
Summer has arrived, not only for us but also for our pets. Most of us think now is a good time to strip your dog of its abundance of hair, just as you strip your clothes and change into swimwear or shorts. But is it really a good idea to have your wooly bundle’s hair shorn off?
Health issues associated with heat are noticeable among brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs, especially those with long hair. In the South African heat it would really help them to have their hair shorn.
Benefits of shaving your dog in summer:
• It keeps the dog cool during extreme heat waves and shorn dogs do not have to be groomed so regularly.
• Injuries, flees and ticks are easy to see and it is so much easier to treat a wound and get rid of pests.
• If your dog is a swimmer it will dry quicker and it will prevent any fungi and other skin infections.
All these benefits sounds wonderful, but it is not all that easy.
Some dogs’ fur consists of several layers that are essential to the dog’s comfort in heat. If you deprive your dog of its natural cooling system it could lead to discomfort and heat exhaustion. Some dogs become depressed, irritable and even sad after their hair is shorn.
Keeping your dog cool is not the only reason why you should not have it shorn.
• Brushing your dog every day in summer is the best way to keep it cool thanks to the ventilation of its fur.
• A dog’s skin is very sensitive to sun and its fur also prevents sunburn and protects it against skin cancer.
• Some dogs’ fur has much the same function as isolation in your home. Isolation helps your house from getting too cold in winter and also prevents it from getting too hot in summer. A dog’s fur with its several layers has exactly the same function.
Some dogs like having a shorn pelt. They are much happier and even more excited if all the wool is gone. These dogs simply prefer short hair, like many people.
However, don’t cut your dog’s hair too short but rather ask what would be best for your dog. These cuts remove the long, irritating hair but still protects the skin against sunburn. They also provide better protection against skin cancer, especially in dogs with light skins. Believe it or not, there are quite a number of sunblock preparations to choose from if your dog is a sunbather. If you are not sure whether it is a good idea to shear your dog, ask your veterinarian or an expert in the field.