The Down Low On The Cooling Ability of Your Dog or Cat’s Coat

The Down Low On The Cooling Ability of Your Dog or Cat’s Coat

Shaving your long-haired dog (or cat) doesn’t help keep him/her cooler during the hot, summer months.

Dogs and cats bodies do not contain the vast network of blood vessels and sweat glands designed to dissipate body heat during hot weather conditions as humans. Although dogs do have sweat glands in their footpads, these play a minimal role in regulating body temperature. So how do cats and dogs cool off in the summer months?

Despite being sweat-gland deficient, dogs and cats can vaporize large amounts of water from their lungs and airways. This water carries heat from the body when they pant. So if you see a dog panting, he’s just cooling off – much as you would through sweating.

It’s a common misconception but shaving pets for the summer doesn’t help your pet cool off.  In fact, shaving can actually remove the natural protection your pet has from the sun’s UV rays and make your pet MORE susceptible to sun burn, skin cancers, and  heat exhaustion/heat stroke.

Long hair and thick undercoats act as insulation against the sun’s rays and their effects. Coats that are kept well-brushed and mat-free allow for good air circulation through the hair, which in itself can actually have a cooling effect. If your dog’s coat is matted or unkempt hair – the airflow is stifled, and won’t work as well to cool the body. In other words, regular grooming and daily brushing is a must during the hot, summer months.

So, that’s it – there’s no “shave it off” short cut (pun intended). So book an appointment to see your dog’s groomer, and keep your pet cool and comfortable during the summer by keeping them well-groomed and by always providing a source of fresh water and shade. But don’t shave them to keep them cool.

Murrayhill Veterinary Hospital is an AAHA accredited veterinary hospital serving clients across the Portland Metro area. We offer advanced veterinary care for cats and dogs, as well as grooming services. We operate out of Beaverton, Oregon.

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