Second Chance: Hairy Dogs and Hot Weather!

Second Chance: Hairy Dogs and Hot Weather!

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been serving San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose Counties for 27 years. Call 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the emergency response, community medical, spay/neuter, volunteer, or other services.

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Go here for more on Dr. Shari DePauw of Second Chance. Veterinary services are available.

Just as we thought summer was winding down, the temperature is again near 100 degrees. Summers are hotter and longer than they used to be, which makes me wonder: Is it too hot here for furry dogs?

Of course, most of my friends are mixes. If the main breed is a husky, malamute, Saint Bernard, Akita, or even a shepherd mix, they are hairy! They’re happy and comfortable when they can romp in the snow. In the summer, they’re probably happier hiking at high altitudes or jumping into a lake or river. But, what about those long summer afternoons when the sun is beating down, and the heat rises to uncomfortable levels? Since that is becoming more common here in Colorado, should you avoid adopting a hairy dog?

Honestly, no.

The fact is most dogs are pretty adaptable. Even those who are built for snowy, cold climates, can adapt to hotter temperatures. Double-coated dogs (two layers: a “guard hair” outer coat and a soft undercoat) thrive in frigid temperatures–but how can we help them live in hot weather? Dogs have the unique ability to regulate their own body temperature, so the undercoat that keeps them warm in cold temperatures will actually keep them cool during the warmer months.

If your best friend has a lot of hair, you may be tempted to shave him in the summer. The quick answer is, you should not do that. Double-coated breeds have two layers to protect against cold weather. The long guard hairs form the outer layer and protect against snow or ice and even shed water. The soft undercoat lies close to the skin and keeps your dog warm and dry.

In summer, your dog should shed his soft undercoat, leaving just the guard hairs to provide your dog with insulation and allow cool air to circulate near his skin. The guard hairs also prevent your dog from getting sunburned.

The best way to help your double-coated dog stay cool is to keep him thoroughly groomed. Brush or comb your dog regularly to remove the undercoat and help keep the guard hairs tangle-free. This can be a big job, so take your dog to the groomer if you can’t keep up with it yourself.

Besides hoping fall cools us off soon, you should continue to do everything you’ve been doing to keep your hairy dog cool. Make sure he or she has lots of water, avoid direct sunlight, splash and swim in a kiddie pool, walk in the early morning or in the late evening, and keep outdoor play brief.

We’re all hoping that a nice, cool, beautiful fall will arrive soon. Until then, make sure your hairy dog is comfortable.

I’m Chuck. I am a cool dog, but I’m not a hairy guy. I’m a bully breed mi, and I like people more than other dogs. So, I’d do better as the only canine in the home. I have a thyroid condition, which is controlled well by medicine. Come meet me today and see me wag my tail so hard that my entire butt wiggles.

AND… To continue the Second Chance Highlights section, we want to share the following:

Two Very Happy Endings!


Remember the story of Louie? He captured the heart of Greg, who was instrumental in our search and recovery when he was loose in Telluride. This weekend, his story got even better when Greg and his family adopted Louie. “We are so happy he is finally home! ” Greg says, “Louie is doing great. Already settling in and happy smiles. I even got some kisses.”


Trey was with us for a long time, and there was very little interest in him. He is a young, smart guy who needs someone to play with and teach him. We were so happy when he went home to a patient family with other dogs he liked immediately!

His new mom says, “He is amazing! He loves riding in “his” truck, cuddling on the couch while watching tv, allowing us to sleep in “his” bed. Oh, and playing! He loves his sisters and his toys.”

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