As a veterinarian in San Luis Obispo, I’ve often seen people with longhaired dogs give them summer haircuts. My old girl, Slink, doesn’t have very long hair, so I never thought this would be something I would do for her. But rewind to a few months ago, when our SLO County temperatures started to warm up, and I started to realize that Slink was panting an awful lot. Here’s the story on how Slink ended up with her first summer hair-do!
As Slink’s owner and her veterinarian, I first checked to make sure there wasn’t a medical cause of this excessive panting. She had chest x-rays, to check her heart and lungs. These looked quite good for 15- year-old dog, so I was relieved. The next thing was to make sure she wasn’t in pain. Pain is a common reason for panting in dogs of all ages. At 15, it isn’t surprising to find that Slink has some arthritis in several of her joints. To make sure she wasn’t panting due to pain, she was started on a medication that is called a Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug (commonly called an NSAID). Most people have NSAIDs in their own medicine cabinet, like Advil. Please know that human medications aren’t safe for dogs, and be sure to talk to a veterinarian about the right NSAID for your pet.
So now that I knew it wasn’t a problem with her heart or lungs and I knew she wasn’t in pain, it was time to address her fur coat! Old dogs can become much more sensitive to extreme heat or cold. Though Slink’s hair doesn’t look very long, she does have a very thick undercoat-probably the equivalent of you walking around in a down jacket all summer long! To try and make Slink more comfortable, Stephanie Ruggerone, the practice administrator at Animal Care Clinic, gave Slink her summer hair-do! I was nervous, because I wasn’t sure what she would look like, but I knew it would be worth it if Slink was more comfortable. Sure enough, Slink loves her short coat! She doesn’t pant all the time anymore, and she seems to have much more energy to play! She may look a little funny to some, but to me, she’s still as cute as ever! We will keep Slink’s hair cut short all summer, and in the fall will let it grow back in to make sure she can stay warm in the winter.
If your senior pet is panting a lot, or experiencing any other problems, we are here to help. At Animal Care Clinic we will help make your pets golden years happy and comfortable.