Does a Dog's Fur Keep It Cool in the Summer?

"Fur is the perfect thing to wear at the beach!"
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As you lament not having a pool when the temperature climbs, you notice your dog panting and wonder how he stands wearing that fur coat in the summer heat. Mother Nature knows what she's doing, and your pooch's coat actually helps him stay comfortable, no matter what the weather.

The Ultimate Insulator

Your pooch's coat provides an obvious benefit when the temperatures dip and the snow's falling, but that same insulating factor helps him in the summertime too. As the thermometer rises, your pup typically goes through a seasonal coat change, meaning he thins out his thicker winter coat for a thinner summer fashion. This thinner hair helps keep him cooler by providing insulation to keep the heat away from his body. As he walks his hair floats up, allowing cooler air to pass over his skin.

Built-In Sunscreen

In addition to offering a kind of built-in air conditioning, your dog's coat offers protection against sun damage to his skin. Your pooch can get sunburned just like you, especially if he's an outdoor type who loves romping around in the backyard and enjoying the fresh air. Any place on his body with too short or too little hair is susceptible to painful sunburns, which can develop into skin cancer. Use a pet-approved sunscreen to cover skin areas that are exposed and watch him carefully to head off sunburns before they happen.

Save the Shave

A common misconception is that shaving your dog will help him feel cooler in the summer, and this isn't necessarily true. Shaving some breeds -- particularly ones with double coats -- can actually ruin their coats, as it alters the way the hair grows back and results in patchy, uneven sections. The only exception is primarily cold climate dogs living in warmer climates, such as huskies or Saint Bernards, or dogs prone to matting. These pups may benefit from a shorter 'do to prevent overheating and skin issues, but if you choose to shave your pooch, go no shorter than an inch in length to offer sun protection.

A Little Trim

You don't have to go super short in the summer to help your pup find some heat relief, as even a little trim can offer him a lighter, cooler feel. Dogs cool from the bottom up, so keep his paws, legs and stomach trimmed to help keep him comfortable. Brushing him regularly will also remove any dead, loose hair in his coat that may form clumps and mats, which can in turn cause skin problems.

Keeping Cool

Dogs instinctually know where to look for heat relief, but you can offer some help to keep him comfortable as the temperature rises. Linoleum and tile floors offer a cooler surface than his cushy bed, and a small fan helps keep cooler air circulating around him on those particularly bad days. A small kiddie pool with a few inches of water gives those water-loving pooches a nice cool place to play, while other dogs are simply happy to lie on some damp towels. Don't force your dog to be outside if he feels it's too hot, and never, ever leave him in a car on a hot day, even in the shade. Temperatures can climb quickly inside and cause heat stroke or dehydration.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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