Just the other day I nearly did intense injury to my back as I climbed down from my soapbox. Now all my wonderful clients and owners who frequent our veterinary hospital would be aware of my speeches I give from the top of my soapbox – “Get your animal clipped regularly if it has long hair or a thick coat!”.
I have talked about this for over 24 years (since I moved to Bundaberg) when I noticed all the local dogs and cats who had very damaged skin and were very uncomfortable in our hot and humid climate. When I first moved here there were 2 dog groomers in the town. Both of them worked part-time and were very hard to contact or make an appointment with.
I was seeing up to six animals a day who were suffering discomfort and pain directly associated with the hair coat they carried and, when I discussed getting the animals clipped – most owners thought I was mad or that if they clipped their animal then it would turn the animal into a “pansy” or words to that effect. I struggled and struggled trying to get owners to take responsibility but found that a lot of owners who wanted to get their animal clipped could not make an appointment with either of the two groomers in Bundaberg.
That was when I decided to start my own clipping department, and that department still exists today.
We went from doing “the odd dog” here and there, but today we do an average of 10 dogs and cats per day during the working week and now all our nursing staff are trained in clipping and grooming dogs and cats.
Why is clipping your pet so important for the welfare of your animal?
Most breeds of dogs and cats originate from Europe or Northern America where the climate is so much colder than we have here in Queensland. The different breeds from these areas have thick or long coats to entrap air next to the skin (insulation) and then the body superheats that air to keep the body warm. It’s a bit like wearing a wetsuit when diving in cold water.
The trouble in our area is that the air gets superheated next to the skin and the cool air from the environment cannot get into that area so, therefore your pets body stays very hot and cannot release the heat through their skin. A bit like putting on a thick winter coat, pulling on a balaclava, putting on thick woollen socks and gloves and trying to stay cool in our summer months – best of luck with that one!
The only way your pet can lose heat from their body is to either pant (and that has limitations – just watch a dog run around in the middle of the day in January) or for the heat to leave the body and go into a cooler climate (convection). The biggest area to lose heat (and therefore cool down) is by using the skin, but when the air just above the skin is super hot then there is no convection.
If you want your dog or cat to be comfortable in our climate then you need to make sure the skin can “breathe” and the only way for that to happen is to remove the undercoat of the animal and allow the air to circulate next to the skin.
Some dogs and cats do not benefit from being clipped – for example Kelpies, Bulldogs, Boxers, Devon Rex, Siamese etc because they normally do not have a heavy undercoat and their hair is short. Having said that – there are some individual animals in these breeds who do have a thick coat and would benefit – especially as they age.
But in general most dogs and most cats would greatly benefit from being clipped. They do NOT have to have long coats – they only need to have the thick undercoat. The two animals that always come to my mind when I am talking about thick coats that are not long is the Labrador and the Blue Cattle Dog – most of them have a thick undercoat.
So I will continue to climb onto my soapbox and continue to stress to pet owners the need to keep your animal clipped – I know that some people don’t want to clip their dog or cat because “it looks funny” but my mission in this world is to speak up for your animal and be their health advocate.
To see an animal that was once struggling to be comfortable and active in the heat, once that thick coat was removed, they are so much happier and healthier and active – then I know I have done my work well in trying to prevent problems and that is all the thanks that I need.