PHUKET: Iíve written about this before, and itís a hot topic (no pun intended) among dog owners in Phuket. The key question is, "Can I shave my dogsí fur coat?".
It seems logical Ė we look at our panting dogs and think that we couldnít cope with a fur coat all day, so clearly they canít. But weíre applying human logic to a canine problem. Iíll spare you the science of Newtonís Law of Cooling and its relation to dog fur, but the truth is, dogs need their coats.
To start with, and this is quite important to consider on a number of levels, dogs are not humans.
Youíre certainly right to be concerned about your pet, particularly on those scorching hot days here in Phuket, but there are lots of things we can do to keep them cool and comfortable. However, as a general rule, shaving their fur doesnít make the list. Indeed in a good number of cases, shaving, as youíll see, can be far more damaging than you realize.Fur: A natural sunblock
When we get hot, we sweat, it's our cooling mechanism. But dogs canít sweat to cool themselves. They do have sweat glands in their paws, but these play a tiny role in their overall thermoregulation. Panting is their main source of keeping cool, so having exposed skin doesnít bring any practical benefit, but it can bring harmful side effects.
A dogís coat acts as insulation from the sunís hot and spicy UV rays and prevents them from getting down to the skin Ė we use factor 50, they use fur. It also acts to prevent the skin from warming as well as possible sunburn, heatstroke, or worse, skin cancer.
If properly maintained, your dogs coat will also allow for good circulation of air. Regular grooming will keep the hair mat-free and remove the dead hair that can build up in the coat. This will create a breathable barrier that allows your dog to regulate his body temperature naturally.
However, an exceptionally thick, packed or matted coat, will prevent healthy air circulation needed for cooling and will make it difficult for your pet to stay comfortable in the heat. If the coat is in good condition but you want to remove weight, you can shorten the coat using a guard comb that will leave the hair longer, retaining that protective barrier from the sun.Double up
Certain breeds, such as German Shepherds, Labs, Golden Retrievers and numerous others, have double coats (a top coat and an undercoat) which should never be shaved. Alongside Huskies, (curiously on the rise in Phuket), they also have coats which grow to a certain length, stop and then shed out Ė hence the constant vacuuming!
While it is more pronounced at certain times of the year, itís a year round thing. This is an important function of a healthy coat and does not stop just because you shave the coat short. However, when the coat is shaved short, the hair may lack the weight to fall out naturally, making it even more important to brush and bathe regularly to encourage dead hair removal.
If this is not done, the hair follicles may become clogged and problems such as poor or no hair regrowth, color change, blocked follicles and skin irritations can result. Weekly brushing with a shedding blade or hound glove and a monthly bathing can help prevent this. You should also be aware that even with good post-shave care, some dogsí coats do not grow back in the same way they did prior to shaving.
Some dogs can also develop bald patches and their coat condition can decline with constant clipping, not to mention that dogs may also continue to scratch as if they still have a coat, which can irritate and even damage freshly clipped skin creating hot spots.
So rather than reaching for the clippers, reach for a brush.Keep cool
Of course keeping our dogs cool on those hot sticky days is vitally important, but rather than adding fuel to the fire by shaving their fur, here are some other things to try:
Always ensure your dog has access to plenty of fresh, clean water and lots of shade. You could also provide a shallow paddling pool for them to lie in Ė youíll cool your dog much quicker applying cool water to their tummies rather than their back Ė but make sure you refresh the water frequently and donít leave it under direct sunlight.
Purchase trampoline style raised beds, which allow air to flow underneath them. And of course, make sure they are brushed and groomed often to keep their coats in tip top shape.For more information, or to inquire about training classes contact the Thailand Canine Academy on 089 588 4050, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check the website www.tk9a.com.
Hot dogs and responsibility Ė Peta.org
Every year, dogs suffer and die when their guardians make the mistake of leaving them in a parked car while they run an errand.
Parked cars are deathtraps for dogs: On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes.
Animals can die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. Beating the heat is extra tough for dogs because they can only cool themselves by panting and by sweating through their paw pads.
If you see a dog left alone in a hot car, have the owner paged, or call local humane authorities or police. Have someone keep an eye on the dog. Donít leave the scene until the situation has been resolved.
Provide water to drink, or spray the dog with a garden hose or immerse him or her in a tub of cool water for up to two minutes in order to lower the body temperature gradually. You can also place the dog in front of an electric fan.
Applying cool, wet towels to the groin area, stomach or chest, can also help.