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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Expert Advice January 2018 Issue

Dear Doctor: To Shave, or not to Shave?


Q Our dog, B.B. Mantis, has a fungal problem. His vet said to cut his hair down to his skin to help keep the skin dry. We would like to know what you think because as a Great Pyrenees/old English sheepdog, he has a thick double coat. Cutting down to the skin would not be that simple.

Tammy Wanner

Liberty, North Carolina

Dear Ms. Wanner,

A It is difficult to answer your question without knowing the type of fungal infection your dog has or how far it has spread. For instance, if the fungus is dermatophytosis (ringworm), the hair cutting is usually restricted to the areas of the skin that are infected. And it doesn’t have to be a super-close shave. The clipping is simply to facilitate treatment with a topical medication. The shaving of the entire coat is usually not recommended, except in the case of very generalized lesions — an uncommon scenario.

If the dog has a fungal infection in the form of a yeast overgrowth called Malassezia, clipping or shaving is usually not prescribed at all. That’s because the topical treatment consists not of applying a medication to dry skin but of frequent bathing with a medicated shampoo. Says Tufts veterinary dermatologist Lluis Ferrer, DVM, PhD, DECVD, “the only situation where I would consider clipping much of a dog’s hair to facilitate the treatment of a superficial yeast infection would be if the dog had many hair mats and knots.”

The bottom line: if the infection is just in one or two spots, chances are it’s not necessary to clip the dog all over, and depending on the type of fungus, you might not have to do any clipping at all. Working backwards from the treatment — medicated baths or application of a topical to dry skin — the answer to whether any clipping or shaving is necessary should become clearer. n

Comments (2)

Years ago we had our 6 month old Old English Puppy diagnosed with demodectic mange at The Ohio State University Veterinary Clinic. They shaved her down completely in order to give her a treatment. The "problem" was that it was in the middle of winter and we lived in Michigan. She worn an " in the house" warm garment and we added a custom made extra warm coat for outside. Kai had many months of treatment dips. Her coat grew in fine after she healed.

Kai's Mom

Posted by: Mary Karen | January 8, 2018 7:50 PM    Report this comment

Our 6 month old Old English Sheepdog puppy was diagnosed with demodectic mange at 6 months old by a vet specialist at The Ohio State Veterinary College. They shaved her down completely in order to treat her. The only "problem" was it was in the middle of winter and we lived in Michigan. Even in our heated house she was cold. We had a indoor "long sleeved sweat shirt" and then put a really warm custom made coat on her when she went outside. Her coat grew in normally after all the treatment were completed.

Kai's Mom

Posted by: Mary Karen | January 8, 2018 7:40 PM    Report this comment

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