It feels like Summer is finally here … time to strip off to a t-shirt, slap on some sun cream, and soak up some rays. But what about your pets? They simply can’t change their coat as fast as our British weather!
Most pets shed their coat twice a year, swapping a thicker coat for a lighter one in the summer months.
Unfortunately, artificial lighting and heating mean that many pets now shed all year round and don’t have such seasonal variation in coat, or such an ability to adapt to hot and cold weather.
However, most pets still moult more in the Spring and will require extra grooming. Failing to brush out dead coat not only leaves your pet feeling itchy and looking a mess, but also actually makes it harder for them to stay cool by interfering with the insulating layer of air between the hairs.
The insulating effect of air trapped in the coat is also the reason that many groomers advise against clipping many double coated dog breeds. Although it seems counter-intuitive, a Husky can stay cooler at rest with a natural coat than if the fur is clipped away. It is better to avoid exercise when the weather is hot than to clip a dog and exercise in the heat.
There are exceptions; dogs with non-shedding coats should be trimmed in the usual way, as should dogs where neutering, age, or illness has changed the texture of the coat and made it thick and fluffy. If you are in any doubt as to whether clipping is a good idea for your dog in summer, please consult a qualified dog groomer.
Thinner coated dogs, and dog and cat breeds with minimal hair, need a different sort of care in the sun. Sunburn is quite common on white dogs with a thin coat and pink skin, such as Staffies and English Bull Terriers. Sunburn commonly occurs on the nose, ears, and sometimes the belly.
Cats with white ears and noses can also suffer from sunburn. Sunburn is just as painful for pets as for humans, and also increases the risk of skin cancers. Thankfully, increased skin cancer awareness means many white pets wear pet safe sun cream when out and about and I haven’t had to amputate any ears due to skin cancer for some time. Skin cancer of the ears and nose often starts by looking like a scab that won’t heal, so if you are at all concerned please contact your vet for advice. For hairless pets, consider a light t-shirt if they insist on sunbathing!