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The summer weather in Texas can become almost unbearable,
especially here in the Brazos Valley. It's the kind of weather that
makes you realize how difficult it would be to survive without air
conditioning. We Texans may complain about the intense summer heat,
but probably won't suffer near as much as animals that spend more
time outdoors. The hot and humid weather can create miserable
circumstances, especially for long haired pets.
"Dogs that are bred in cooler temperatures can develop problems
because of this heat" said Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical assistant
professor at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "For example, the heat makes it
difficult for the dog to pant, which allows them to cool themselves
down. Long hair also makes finding and removing ticks more
difficult. With short hair, the ticks are much more easily
recognizable." Then there are the Texan's all too familiar friends,
the mosquitoes. "It is a myth that long-haired animals get bit by
mosquitoes less than short haired animals" said Stickney.
If your animals are going to be outside this summer there are
some things to take into consideration. Make sure that all animals
have access to fresh water (cold if possible) and some form of
shade. The shade is necessary to help prevent sunburns, hot spots,
and blistering on the bottom of more sensitive doggie paws. If you
have a dog that is not usually outside, or is going to be outside
for an extended period of time, sunscreen is an option to consider.
There are sunscreens that are made specifically for dogs and can be
applied to areas with less hair such as the nose, ears, and
Another important fact to note is that dogs can have heat
exhaustion and heat strokes just like people. Owners should
encourage high energy dogs to take breaks when playing out in the
sun because of this. Also, people who exercise with their dogs
either with a bike or by jogging should keep in mind that dogs
(especially smaller breeds) need to be conditioned to work up their
stamina. So be mindful of Sparky's capabilities before dragging him
along on that three mile bike ride. "Owners will sometimes make the
mistake of grabbing a hose that has been lying out in the sun to
spray down animals such as horses or dogs, but the hot water that
has been sitting in the hose can scald them before the cooler water
comes through." said Stickney.
If you allow your cats to go outside, "the only problem would be
mattes and/or hairballs in long-haired cats, but this can be
managed by brushing them daily to help keep them clean" said
Stickney. Some people prefer the look of their cat when shaved,
which is perfectly fine. However, there is no medical need to shave
your cat unless they are having problems with these things.
Veterinarians will most likely hold different opinions on when
or if to shave your pets depending on the region that you live in.
Some might argue that long hair on certain breeds will work as a
"This would not hold true in our climate because of the levels
of humidity" explains Stickney. "If your dog seems exhausted and
overheated ask your local veterinarian if shaving could be an
option for you and your pet."
By keeping an eye on your pet and exercising caution when
exercising and cooling your pet off, the dog days of summer will be
more enjoyable for everyone.
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