Shedding Layers in the Heat
Summer is just around the corner. However, WNC temperatures have already climbed into the 80’s in early spring. In warmer months, we are able switch to lighter clothes so we won’t swelter wearing woolen sweaters and slacks. Although some of us may find it inconvenient to switch our wardrobes from winter to summer clothes, at least we have that option. Unfortunately, other than possibly shedding an undercoat, dogs are always clothed in a fur coat. So what can we do the help our dogs stay safe and healthy in warm temperatures?
To Shave or Not to Shave
To keep your dog cool in the summer heat, should you shave your dog’s fur? In general, the answer is “No”. There are some breeds, like poodles, whose fur needs to be cut regularly because their fur is more similar to human hair and grows continuously. Also, there are some select cases that may call for shaving your dog. However, in most cases, shaving your dog’s fur makes them less able to thermoregulate, or control their body temperature. Your dog’s fur is naturally designed to keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In addition, shaving your dog exposes their skin to the sun, which may ultimately lead to sunburn (Fries 2012).
Hot Sun, Closed Cars & Dogs
Never leave an animal unattended in a vehicle in warm weather. What is warm weather? Anything over 60 oF is too warm for an animal to be left in a car unattended, especially if it is sunny conditions. In general, the temperature inside a car will rise by 20 during the first 10 minutes and 30 degrees during the first 20 minutes (AVMF 2016). That means, if the outside temperatures are 70 oF, the temperature inside of a car will rise 90 oF within 10 minutes, and 100 oF within 20 minutes. If you are in a situation that the dogs need to be in the car during warm weather, have another (adult) human stays in the car with the dogs. Make certain that the car is parked in the shade and the windows are wide open. Equip the person with a cellphone so that they can contact you when they are feeling too uncomfortable to stay in the car. If possible, have the person sit outside the car with the dogs until you return.
American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF). 2016. Pets in Vehicles. Retrieved from https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/pets-in-vehicles.aspx
Fries, Wendy. 2012. Should You Shave Your Pet for Summer? WebMD. Retrieved from http://pets.webmd.com/features/shaving-dog-or-cat-during-summer
Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD is a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) with Lucky Dog Training Asheville and has over 30 years of training experience in obedience, tracking, agility, sheepherding, dock diving and fieldwork. The Dog’s Perspective is a training philosophy based on how dogs think. Kathryn is an evolutionary biologist and teaches college and university biology courses.