Summer Grooming Tips for Dogs

The summer months are a time for shedding the bulky layers of winter and enjoying the sun and warm, fresh air. While we can simply unzip and remove our jackets or sweaters and opt for lighter shoes, dogs are bound to the coats they wear all year-round, and may require a little extra care when it comes to grooming in the summertime. Taking excessive measures is not usually necessary for most dogs, but increasing their maintenance can go a long way in keeping your canine friend healthy, happy, and safe this summer.

Man unraveling tangled dog's hair
credit: RobertoDavid/iStock/GettyImages

DIY grooming tips

Once summer hits, we humans shed our jackets, and our dogs shed some of the fur from their winter coats. One way to stay on top of a summer grooming for your canine is by staying on top of regular brushings, which can help keep your dog cooler and free from forming matts by removing old, unnecessary fur. When it comes to cutting your dog's hair, the American Kennel Club recommends taking a "less is more" approach when handling the scissors or clippers, and sticking to minor trims around his face, feet, and tail. Clippers can also be used to keep your dog's hair under control, just take extra care not to shave him too close to the skin (for reasons we'll talk about in just a minute.)

The ASPCA also notes that adding sunscreen to your dog's daily skincare routine can prevent sunburn from UV rays, just as it will for people. When applying, be sure to reach for formulas made specifically for pets as some human-grade ingredients like zinc oxide can be dangerous for dog, says Banfield Pet Hospital. Finally, keeping those toes trimmed and in shape can help reduce the risk of possible injuries, like snagging a nail while romping around in the yard or running around on a rocky beach. You probably won't need to offer excessive nail trims, but just make sure they get shaped up to avoid any accidents.

Dog lying and enjoys on blue towel on sand
credit: Kira-Yan/iStock/GettyImages

Grooming double-coated dogs

Some dogs have what is known as a "double coat" which is essentially two coats on top of each other — the usual furry coat you see on most dogs, and a soft, fuzzy undercoat hidden beneath that one. Double coats are usually found on breeds with thick hair, like Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, Australian Shepherds, and Corgis, and serve a very specific purpose: to temperature regulate these dogs. Not only does the hidden layer of fur help keep double coated breeds warm in the winter, they actually work to cool them down amid hot conditions as well by blocking UV rays.

Some people may be tempted to shave off the outer layer of a dog's double coat, but this is actually not advised at all as it can do way more harm that good. Merryfield School of Pet Grooming explains that shaving off a dog's top coat can make her more prone to sunburn as it exposes more of her skin to sunlight, and result in a damaged coat when it grows out. Instead of shaving, regular bathing and brushing are recommended to keep your dog's skin and hair healthy and free from excess fur buildup. If you do feel like your double coated dog could use a trim, visit a professional groomer for a cut that won't affect her undercoat or her body temperature.

Girl spraying water on Saint Bernard with hose in backyard
credit: Cavan Images/Cavan/GettyImages

Hot weather safety

If your dog is well-groomed and cared for but you still worry about how he's going to hold up in the heat, there are a few simple measures you can take to assure that he stays cool and safe in any heat wave. First things first, make sure to have clean water available at all times, especially outdoors if you two are lounging around the yard some afternoon or out for a walk during peak heat hours. If you're headed somewhere for a long stretch of time, it may be best to leave your canine companion at home with the windows closed and the air conditioning on, which should keep him comfortable. And finally, no matter how quick you think you'll be popping into a store or office to run an errand, never leave your dog in your car on a hot day. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that on a 70 degree day, a car can reach temperatures of over 100℉ in 30 minutes, which can result in heatstroke or even death if unattended for too long.