help my dog stay chill
April 17, 2011 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Two years ago, I rescued an older 10lbs shiba inu/chihuahua mix who has a lot of fur and overheats easily. We've already had a few hot days in Los Angeles this year, and I'm concerned about keeping him cool and healthy, especially since we've moved to a new house that gets a lot warmer during the day.

Meet Antony. As you can see, he's got a lot of fur around his chest and hind legs. My biggest question is whether or not I should get his coat trimmed. The first groomer I went to (at an upscale, respected facility) said I should not, because that fur acts as insulation to deflect heat and keep him cool, and furthermore, his thick undercoat might not grow back right. Have you had any experience with this?

My other concern is, what else can I do to help him stay cool? He slows down when the temperature rises to the mid 70s, and when it hits the 80s, he stays on the couch all day – he doesn't even seem to want to touch his water. I love this guy more than anything and need to keep him healthy and happy, so any experiences or advice you have would be much appreciated.
posted by roger ackroyd to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
To answer your first question - don't trim his fur. My dog has a thick undercoat. I trimmed his fur, same reason - it was summer, I thought he was hot, and it took more than a year to grow back.

To answer the second question - I tend to believe that dogs know what they're doing. If Antony is laying on the couch on hot days, it's probably because he knows it's too hot to play around. I think as long as you keep water available, dogs will drink it when they need it. Also, I tend to give my dogs ice on the really hot days. It's a nice little cool down treat.
posted by AlliKat75 at 12:59 PM on April 17, 2011

that fur acts as insulation to deflect heat and keep him cool

That's clearly crap. Does that groomer wear a big fur coat in hot weather to "deflect the heat" and keep themself cool?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:59 PM on April 17, 2011

I had a chow-golden mix who had the thickest longest coat ever and every year as the weather started to warm up I'd take her into the groomers and have them shave her belly fur off. She seemed to appreciate it as she would plant that bare skin right on our cool tile floors all summer (as opposed to the way she would loll around on the carpeting in the rest of the year). The unintentional bonus was the belly shave wasn't visible unless she rolled over and she looked like herself, rather than a dog with a bad haircut. Her fur always grew back in the same way, super dense undercoat and all, in time for winter.
posted by jamaro at 1:06 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, there's cooling pads for dogs. I've never tried one because I always seem to end up with enormous dogs but a little 10 pounder should fit just right on one of these.
posted by jamaro at 1:16 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

That's clearly crap. Does that groomer wear a big fur coat in hot weather to "deflect the heat" and keep themself cool?

Your dog groomer cools him/herself via sweating. Dogs and humans aren't comparable in this way.
posted by found missing at 1:17 PM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

When I lived in Arizona we had an all black Border Collie with massive amounts of fur. Even when we shaved her she was still incredibly hot. There were a few things we'd do:

Broth "Pup-sicles", beef or chicken broth frozen in an ice cube tray as a treat. She also liked munching on regular ice cubes.

She had a kiddie pool in the shade out in the back yard that she could play in whenever she wanted. We'd dump it out and refill the water about once a week. (This was before the West Nile scare, so we didn't worry about mosquito breeding.)

We'd also only take her out for exercise in the early mornings and well after the sun had gone down so she wouldn't burn her paws on the searing asphalt.

On really hot days I'd try to keep her damp. I would mist her with a spray bottle or wipe her down with a wet cloth and make sure that there was a fan blowing on her favorite lounging area (I called it her den.)
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:20 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, there's cooling pads for dogs.

Thanks jamaro. I'm going to go find one of those today.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:20 PM on April 17, 2011

Moving air helps too. Setting up a breeze through the house can do wonders.
posted by Max Power at 1:21 PM on April 17, 2011

I have a lhasa apso and live where it's 95-105 all summer. I can't even imagine not getting him shaved down from spring through fall. He is noticeably happier when his hair is short in hot weather.
posted by elpea at 1:50 PM on April 17, 2011

Please read this page about shaving your pup.

I've read similar advice regarding my Husky. Dogs don't sweat, their skin is not a factor in staying cool. The advice above that you "don't wear a coat in the summer" is apples to oranges for dogs. Insulation is insulation, it doesn't matter if you want something to stay cool or hot. I've been told by a very good vet (who also has Huskies) that the coat serves to keep them cool as well as warm.

Provide him with shade, lots of water, and understand that his energy level might be a bit lower when it's hot.
posted by tomswift at 3:16 PM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

You can also try something like the Kool Collar.
posted by kitty teeth at 3:23 PM on April 17, 2011

No shaving, it will make him hotter (and more susceptible to sunburn).

Cooling pad, frosty treats, and a fan (the cool collars work well, too, but not for when the dog is alone). Be careful about anything that involves wetting him down, since water that stays next to the skin tends to make the dog hotter. If he likes to swim, definitely take him swimming, but towel him off well. And do not take him out when it's really hot. Make sure he has access to a variety of places in the house so he can go where he's comfortable. I lived in Texas for 5 years with a Swedish breed of dog (thick double coat), and we were fine (although we had a/c). We walked before sunup and after sundown, and I let him choose the pace and amount of activity.
posted by biscotti at 3:46 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

As long as the place you live was more or less built for Southern California and you have some kind of airflow, it'll be fine. Being on the couch, honestly, is a good sign - my dogs take to the tile and linoleum when they really get hot (which they freely go outside and do and then come back in and collapse on the tile - most dogs are far better built for heat than cold).

I'd be surprised if he uses the cooling bad except for maybe the serious scorcher 100+ days. It's good to have on offer, though, as they will instinctively act to cool their core temp if it gets too high.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:51 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

most dogs are far better built for heat than cold

It's my understanding that the opposite is true. Most dogs tolerate cold far better than heat, unless it's a breed specifically from somewhere hot (Chihuahua, Saluki, etc.). Dogs are better at staying warm than they are at staying cool.
posted by biscotti at 7:06 AM on April 18, 2011

As a quick fix, spraying water on dogs' paw-pads and genitals cools them down quickly.
posted by whalebreath at 8:07 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't shave. It's the top coat that helps keep dogs cool. Keeping your dogs coat clean and fluffy is the best thing to do.

that fur acts as insulation to deflect heat and keep him cool

That's clearly crap.

No, it's not. As pointed out above, dogs don't sweat. Insulation works because air has a high R-value, and the coat helps slow the transfer of heat by radiation, convection, and conduction.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:48 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

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