Should I shave my pet? Do pets get sunburned? And other hot weather tips for pet life in South Florida.


by Dr. Michael Shaff

One of our clients asked this week if he should shave his pets to help them handle Florida's heat and humidity. South Florida can be hot year around – even in the winter months we sometimes get temperatures in the mid- to high 80s. Here are some tips about how to keep your pet safe and comfortable in our tropical climate. 

Shaving depends on the pet

We recognize that there are people who advocate for shaving your dog and people who are against it. 

Our approach is to evaluate each dog individually to determine if your pet would be more comfortable with the coat trimmed back, shaved down or left alone. We consider your dog's physical condition, its type of coat, how heavy or light the hair is, and whether your dog seems to be suffering from the heat. 

What about shaving the cat? 

Domestic cats originated in the deserts of Egypt and the lands around Mesopotamia, and they love to be warm. But too much heat can affect kitty, too. If your cat is a long-haired breed it may be more comfortable if it is trimmed during the hottest months, but again we recommend an evaluation to determine if this is the best option for your cat. Trimming too late in the year can leave your cat  vulnerable during the cooler weather, so to be on the safe side, give us a call and let's evaluate the best options for your kitty. 

Tips for keeping pets cool during hot weather:

  • The top safety issue for pets during hot weather is the danger of cars. Never leave your pet in the car in Florida, even for a few minutes, and even with the windows open or cracked. Cars can reach 120 to 140 degrees inside and kill your pet in minutes. 
  • Fresh water should be available to your pets, both indoors and outside, at all times.
  • Offer dogs a kiddie pool filled with water or even chipped ice. 
  • Cats may snuggle up to a ice-filled water bottle if they feel too hot. 
  • Plan ahead for outdoor activities: bring extra water bottles for your dog, and a portable dog shelter that offers shade. See our page of  Top 10 Pet Camping Tips for more ideas.
  • Bring pets indoors between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the heat is strongest.
  • Rain can feel great during a hot afternoon, but if you can hear thunder, you or your pet can be hit by lightning, even several miles from the storm. Move indoors at the first rumble of thunder. 

Sunscreen for your pets

Yes, pets can get sunburned just as easily as we can, and light-colored and thinly-coated pets are at a higher risk of sunburn and skin damage, especially on the ears and nose. There are pet-specific sunscreens that are safe to use on your animals – please ask us or give us a call and we'll order them for you. If you live in Florida all year, we'll check your pet for skin irregularities when you visit. Just as with humans, catching skin cancer early can save your pet's life. 

Emergency response

If your dog or cat collapses from the heat or you suspect heat stroke (signs include pale gums, seizure, coma, unusual breathing, vomiting, thick saliva) promptly cool them down by gently pouring water over the pet's body and call us to bring your pet in immediately. The sooner we see your pet at our clinic, the more likely we can save it. 

Thanks for your great questions, and have a safe and healthy time in South Florida with your pets! 

Photo credit: cindy47452 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Phone: 954-421-2244   Serving Deerfield Beach, Coconut Creek, and Boca Raton from our offices at Hillsboro Blvd and  Powerline Road in the Dunkin' Donuts plaza.    © Deer Run Animal Hospital 2019