Hot summer days mean keeping cool in every way possible. Our pets rely on us to keep them comfortable and healthy, but understanding the difference between pets and humans is important before taking action.

For example, both dogs and cats cool themselves by panting, so while a summer hair cut seem like a great idea considering our light summer clothing, vets and groomers caution that some pets are insulated from both cold and hot temps by their fur and cutting it is not advisable. We humans may take frequent showers to stay cool, but bathing a dog frequently can dry out sensitive skin.

Appropriate summer grooming is important to your pet’s comfort, but take note of the following to be sure you are doing the best for your pet.

  • Summer cuts – Both dogs and cats with long and/or thick fur may benefit from a summer cut during peak heat, but consult a professional groomer and never buzz or shave a pet, as exposed skin could be sunburned quickly. Your groomer can advise on the appropriate cut and length for your pet.
  • Use sunscreen – A shorter hair cut will mean potential risk for sunburn so consult your vet about a sunscreen that is specifically for pets. Keep in mind that light haired dogs and cats are more at risk for sunburn than those with darker hair and skin, and any dog or cat that spends time outdoors can get sunburned on hairless areas like the nose, ears, inside back legs and abdomen.
  • Brush your pet daily – Brushing dogs and cats is the best way to prevent matting and to remove the undercoat many pets retain that can cause them to overheat. Daily brushing also discourages fleas and ticks that find places to hide in matts and thick fur. For breeds with especially long fur, such as Pomeranians, Afghans, and Himalayans, a professional groomer can help with deshedding.
  • Don’t overdo the baths – For dogs, a bath is a great way to clean up and cool down, but once a month is best to avoid drying out sensitive skin. If your dog enjoys water, consider providing a small pool to let him splash in on a hot day.
  • Check for hot surfaces to protect paw pads – Test surfaces by setting your hand on them. If you can’t hold your hand there for five seconds, it is too hot for your pet’s feet. Ask your vet about products that can protect paw pads and prevent them from cracking.

Remember, any pet will benefit from regular grooming all year round. Brushing, trimming, and screening for fleas and ticks about every three months is the best way to maintain healthy fur and skin for your dog or cat.

If you have questions about proper grooming for your pet, contact the veterinarians at Lake Cable Animal Hospital. Professional groomers are your best option to keep your pet cool and protected from sun during the hottest summer days.