Summer is the time of year for clip downs, or is it?
What you may not know is, the skin and coat of all mammals form the largest sensory organ. Hair is an appendage of the skin; it is not a separate system. The main purpose of dog hair is to regulate body temperature; it holds in body heat in the winter and dissipates heat from the sun in the summer. The coat also provides protection from environmental elements and the sun. The canine coat features a compound hair follicle where there are several or many secondary (undercoat) hairs and a single primary (topcoat) hair. The longer the hair, the more it can dissipate the heat away from the skin. Light colored hair reflects heat, while dark colored hair absorbs and holds heat. Black, short-haired dogs are the most uncomfortable in the heat and long, light-haired animals will be the most comfortable. Profuse or thick undercoat, however, will trap heat next to the skin, regardless of color.
It is a common mistake by humans to assume that dogs experience their coats the same as we would experience our coats. Humans have eccrine sweat glands over most of the body that serve as thermoregulation. Dogs do not. Dogs pant, humans sweat. When dogs pant on a hot day, it does not mean that they need to have their entire hair coat removed, it may just mean that some of the undercoat needs removed.
Post Clipping Alopecia simply means lack of hair growth after clipping. Post-grooming problems with hair growth are included in this category. Although most medical references will maintain that the hair will grow back within 12-24 months, some veteran groomers have witnessed extended or permanent failure of the coat to regrow, or situations where the coat itself is permanently altered, becomes wooly, thick, fuzzy, is lacking in guard hairs, or loses color.Without sufficient hair coat, a dog may be more at risk of skin cancer. An alarming statistic published by VPI Insurance is that dogs are 35 times more likely than humans to have skin cancer. An alternate approach for keeping your pet cool is to brush the coat down to the skin. De-shedding is best done on a clean, conditioned, coat. Many different brushes and combs may be used to get rid of the undercoat; rakes and rubber brushes are good to use while bathing. Bathing and conditioning a pet thoroughly can save on drying time and also on brushing time. Clipping the underside and chest can help a thick coated dog cool off without damaging the coat. Most of the trimming can be done with a snap-comb to lighten the look and feel of the coat without risking coat damage. After getting some of the coat out, air can move through the coat and the dog can also cool off by laying on a cool surface. May you and your dog “Chill Out” this summer!