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Hairy Dogs & Hot Weather

Just as we thought summer was winding down, the temperature is again near 100 degrees. Summers are hotter and longer than they used to be, which makes me wonder- is it too hot here for furry dogs? 

 Of course, most of my friends are mixes. If the main breed is a husky, malamute, Saint Bernard, Akita, or even a shepherd mix, they are hairy! They’re happy and comfortable when they can romp in the snow. In the summer, they’re probably happier hiking at high altitudes or jumping in a lake or river. But, what about those long summer afternoons when the sun is beating down, and the heat rises to uncomfortable? Since that is becoming more common here in Colorado, should you avoid adopting one of these hairy dogs?

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Honestly, no. The fact is, most dogs are pretty adaptable. Even those who are built for snowy, cold climates, can adapt to hotter temperatures. Double-coated dogs (two layers: a 'guard hair' outer coat and a soft undercoat) thrive in frigid temperatures--but how can we help them live in hot weather? Dogs have the unique ability to regulate their own body temperature, so the undercoat that keeps them warm in cold temperatures will actually keep them cool during the warmer months.

If your best friend has a lot of hair, you may be tempted to shave him in the summer. The quick answer is, no, you shouldn’t shave your dog. Double-coated breeds have two layers to protect against cold weather. The long guard hairs form the outer layer and protect against snow or ice and even shed water. The soft undercoat lies close to the skin and keeps your dog warm and dry. 

In summer, your dog should shed his soft undercoat, leaving just the guard hairs to provide your dog with insulation and allow cool air to circulate near his skin. The guard hairs also prevent your dog from getting sunburned. 

shedding

The best way to help your double-coated dog stay cool is to keep him thoroughly groomed. Brush or comb your dog regularly to remove the undercoat and help keep the guard hairs tangle-free. This can be a big job, so take your dog to the groomer if you can’t keep up with it yourself.

Besides hoping fall cools us off soon, you should continue to do everything you’ve been doing to keep your hairy dog cool. Make sure your dog has a lot of water, avoid direct sunlight, splash and swim in a kiddie pool, walk in the early morning or in the late evening, and keep outdoor play brief.  We’re all hoping that a nice, cool, beautiful fall will arrive soon. Until then, make sure your hairy dog is comfortable. 

chuck.2

I’m Chuck. I am a cool dog, but I’m not a hairy guy. I’m a bully breed mix, and I like people more than other dogs. So, I’d do better as the only canine in the home. I have a thyroid condition, which is controlled well by medicine. Come meet me today and see me wag my tail so hard that my entire butt wiggles.

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 970-626-2273 to report a lost pet or to learn about adopting a homeless pet and the SCHS spay/neuter, volunteer, feral cat or other programs. View our shelter pets and services at adoptmountainpets.org.

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