Summer may be winding down but summertime temperatures may be around for a while. Just like you, your pets feel the heat but think twice before you think the fur coat they come with is too warm for the season.
Cats are exceptional groomers and benefit from the cooling effect of the grooming process as well as being smaller than dogs and therefore better able to radiate excess body heat. With the Egyptian wild cat as an ancestor, felines generally tolerate higher temperatures than their canine counterparts so keep the clippers away from kitty.
Dogs have a longer history of domestication than cats which has contributed to breeding for extra heavy undercoats especially for those breeds living in colder climates. Veterinarian Julie Damron writing for the Sierra Veterinary Clinic notes: “Dogs that can live in cold climates, such as the Siberian Husky, Malamute, Samoyed, Akita, Newfoundland, and Sheltie, have a very thick undercoat to keep them warm. These dogs can overheat if their coat is not properly maintained. It is critical for these dogs to be bathed and brushed out routinely so that their coat is free of matts, dirt, and debris.” Dr. Damron adds breeds with “a short hair life-cycle time, like Labradors, Jack Russell Terriers, and Golden Retrievers” to the mix which “ will shed more frequently as their hair turns over.” Maintenance by occasional bathing and consistent brushing of both of these of coat types is important in extreme weather conditions and will aid in comfort for your dog. Experts advise against shaving your pet and with good reason. Fur has insulating properties (especially that undercoat) which can actually keep your dog cooler in the summer. Fur acts as a natural sunscreen to protect your pet’s skin and a closely shaved pet is extremely vulnerable to sun burn. If you absolutely cannot resist leave at least one inch of coat to protect your dog’s skin.
Don’t forget about hazard free sunblock for the parts of your dog where the hair is thin such as the end of the muzzle or ears. Dr. Damron suggests using a waterproof product formulated for children.
Remember, sometimes the best hair style “do” for your dog or cat is a “don’t”!
The author is a licensed pet care technician teacher and an animal behaviorist for more information on all things pets visit http://www.animalbehaviorist.us