Dear Old Trainer: Blanco, our Samoyed, needs a summer haircut, but Roy, my husband, says the coat acts as insulation from the heat and that a haircut will cause Blanco to lose his confidence. How do I convince him Blanco needs relief from the heat?
Earleen, Purcell, Okla.
A: Well, I suppose you could make Roy put on a fur coat and walk around in it all day and sleep in it at night. Then ask if it kept him cool.
Or you could take it easy on Roy and just point out his theory defies logic. If a fur coat insulated a dog – or any other animal – against heat, nature would ensure every animal grew a thicker coat in the summer. Instead, every animal grows a thick coat for winter, sheds that coat for summer.
The other mistake Roy makes is projecting human psychology onto a dog. Blanco won’t know he’s had his hair cut and won’t miss it. He’ll just feel cool for a change.
And there are health reasons to give Blanco a summer cut. A short coat attracts fewer fleas and ticks and makes it easier to find the ones already there. It allows you to detect skin disorders and makes it easier to bath him.
Samoyeds have coats so thick they are rarely able to shed all of it, especially the undercoat. A haircut gets rid of unhealthy, matted hair in the undercoat Blanco cannot shed on his own.
Roy is bound to figure it out sooner or later and agree to a summer cut. Instruct the groomer you do NOT want Blanco shaved. You want his coat 1/4 to 1/2 inch long.
Better yet, do it yourself. Buy a good pair of scissors at a beauty supply shop and cut a little at a time, starting where the tail joins the body. Cut off everything that doesn’t look like a short haired Samoyed.
Tell Roy not to worry, Blanco will grow a new coat before winter arrives.
This advice applies to any reader who lives in hot weather and has a dog with a thick coat. All dogs deserve a summer haircut. It may be the difference between life and death.
Dear Old Trainer: Selena, our 10-week-old Lab/boxer mix, started scratching recently and we found fleas on her. Is it safe to use liquid flea medicine on her?
A: No. Serena is too young for the chemicals in flea products.
Bathe her in a solution of mild dish wash liquid and warm water. Work the mixture through her fur, then rinse with warm water.
Dry her with one towel, then wrap her in a different dry towel for a few minutes to keep her warm. Run your hands through her fur to see if any fleas remain. If you find any, pick them off and drop them in the mixture.
Put down fresh bedding and wash the old bedding and the towels you used to dry her. Wash Serena and her bedding every few days. Check the fur every day for fleas and pick off any you find.
I emailed you details on how to deal with fleas as she gets older.