We often refer to the dog’s fur as a “coat,”
but that contributes to a misunderstanding of how the dog’s fur really works. Of course wearing a coat in summer the poor thing must be dreadfully warm! So
let’s dispense with the word coat for this discussion. Instead, let’s think of
the fur in terms of what it does, and that involves its functions for insulation and protection. As you know
with a house, insulation is important to
keep temperatures stable. You set a desired temperature on your thermostat, and
the heat and air conditioning systems work to create and maintain that
temperature. The insulation helps to separate the inside of your house from the
outside so it is easier to get the temperature to stay where you set the thermostat. Take away the insulation, and your mechanical
systems are going to have a heck of a time keeping your house at the
temperature you desire. The inside will always want to match
the outside if there is a poor barrier between the two.
Fur also serves another purpose, and that is protection from physical elements. Fur provides an additional layer of protection against injury to the skin such as might occur from a good roll in the grass. The topcoat, which is what you see when you first look at your dog, also helps to repel dirt and debris and sheds water to some extent. Check that out the next time your dog is out in the rain for a short time. The top layer of fur will be wet, but the skin can still be fairly dry (depending on how long they are out and how hard it is raining. Some of my goldens didn’t know, or want, to come in from the rain so your mileage may vary).
Good care for a golden includes recognition that both the fur and the skin are important to your dog’s health. There is a need to be vigilant year round about good skin and fur care. Summer provides its own reasons and challenges in that regard. You and your dog may be outside more, playing in the grass, perhaps swimming or whatever summer fun you have in store together. Attention to cleanliness to remove contaminants (like all that wonderful pollen we have in Virginia) is important to keep the fur and skin healthy. Regular brushing and removal of mats will increase the effectiveness of the fur and the comfort of your dog. Keep the skin dry to help fight off hot spots. While tending to the fur, it is a great time to check for parasites like ticks and fleas; dangerous debris such as foxtails; and also lumps, bumps, or injuries to the skin. One of the best things you can do for your dog is catch a skin problem or a lump or growth early. To help your dog through the hot summer months, provide plenty of shade and water and monitor their activity and their behavior. Goldens do not always know when to quit when they are having fun.