Summer Warning: Your Dog’s Skin

Warning: I am not a veterinarian. All advice I give should be taken with a grain of salt, as with a lot of advice you may read online. I just like to help animals, through helping their pet parents, with the 19 years of experience I have gained by working in veterinary medicine. Ultimately, you should consult your veterinarian before trying anything yourself at home.

Hot summers, humid or dry weather, can cause a lot of different types of skin issues for your dog.

Body

Most dogs have thick coats, whether short or long, these coats provide protection from all kinds of elements.

The dogs with the thickest, longest coats can be more prone to issues caused from the heat due to the way the coats hold heat and moisture close to the dog’s body.

It’s also harder to know if your dog is having a skin issue if they have long, thick coats because it’s hard to see under all that hair. In many cases, a skin issue isn’t found unless you feel it while petting them or you see them actively scratching or chewing at the area. Usually by that time, it’s already a problem that requires veterinary attention and/or medication.

A few ways to help keep these issues at bay:

1. Have your dogs thick fur trimmed down once the weather starts to get hot enough to where they no longer need their coat to help keep them warm.

2. If you don’t want to, or are unable to, have them groomed, try to keep their fur combed to keep out burs, other debris, and to keep the hair from matting.

3. Bathe, thoroughly dry, and comb your dog every 6-8 weeks. Moisture is one of the enemies with thick, long coats, so drying them well is an important step. Bathing them will also help you identify, with touch, any issues that may be starting. Before the bath, place cotton balls in their ears to keep moisture out. Just always remember to remove the cotton balls when the bath is done.

4. Do a thorough “Petting Exam” often. Touching and petting your dog all over their body can help you find issues that you can be proactive about and take care of before you have to make a trip to the vet. Or at least before it gets extreme, painful for your dog, and costly.

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For those dogs that have thin, light colored coats, it’s important to remember to limit their time in the sun. Their thin coats don’t protect their skin from sunburn, and potentially skin cancer, issues.

If your thin coated or light colored dog likes to sun bathe, or spends a lot of time outdoors, discuss with your veterinarian about options to help protect their skin. Something as simple as having them wear a t-shirt can be helpful, you would just need to change it often. Making a knot in the t-shirt, where it lays on the dogs back, will help keep it from hanging down under their belly, and potentially being peed on by male dogs.

Ears

Does your dog have big floppy ears or short pointy ears? Humidity, or any type of moisture, can be detrimental to your dog’s ear health.

Humidity from the climate, to swimming and baths. Dogs can get extra moisture in their ears from all sorts of places. I even have a dog who LOVES to lick the insides of my other dog’s ears. Ugh and yuck.

It’s important to always keep a close eye on your dog’s ears all year long, but especially during the hot summer.

Ear infections can get nasty fast, it’s best to stay on top of it before your dog experiences the pain and discomfort that can come along with them. It can also get expensive and can take weeks of medications and veterinary rechecks before they get resolved.

Check your dog’s ears during their “Petting Exam”. Smelling for nasty smells and looking for excessive discharge. Dark or light in color, moist or dry. Any type of ear discharge is typically not good. Sometimes, it’s just dirt, which an easy ear cleaning can fix.

A good sign that your dog is already dealing with an ear infection; if you see them scratching their ears or shaking their head, more often than they usually do, or excessively. Whining and/or crying when you pet them on or around the ears, or crying/whining when they scratch their own ears, means that they are probably already at the painful stage, and an immediate trip to the veterinarian is in order.

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The best option for you and your dog is to make sure their ears stay clean and dry. Talk to your veterinarian about a good ear cleaner to use, and ask them how often you should be using it. They will base their answer on the make-up of your dog’s breed, and your lifestyle with them.

Feet

During the heat of the summer, your dog’s paws are the only place on their body that sweats. They sweat to help cool them down when they get hot, panting is also a way they cool themselves down.

If their feet stay wet for long periods of time; like constant swimming, wearing dog shoes for extended periods of time, or other things they may do that keep their feet moist, can cause a skin infection (moist dermatitis) between the dog’s toes.

Also; dead weeds, grasses, burs, etc. can get stuck in between the dogs toes, much of the time in the fur between a dog’s toes, and cause foreign body abscesses (this can also happen all over the dog’s body, it’s just more common on the feet).

Additionally; walks on hot pavement, sidewalks, or asphalt can cause burns to the pads of your dog’s feet. Requiring treatment, bandages, medications, and multiple trips to the vet’s office. Dog shoes are helpful, if you must walk your dog during days that reach over 80 degrees F, you just have to remember to remove them when they’re not needed, and towel dry your dog’s feet to help them dry faster.

Allergies

Summertime is the worst time for dog allergies. Everything has come into bloom, the wind is blowing, the the pollen counts are high.

Dogs can suffer from nose to tail with inhalant and skin allergies of many different kinds.

It’s best to discuss treatment options with your veterinarian if you think your dog’s dealing with this issue. There are extensive tests that can be done to try and figure out what exact allergens your dog is dealing with, if you have the means to do it (those tests can get costly $$$). There’s very good medications, some very new to veterinary medicine, that have worked extremely well to bring relief to many allergy dog sufferers.

Unfortunately, there is not one good tip that I can give to help your dog suffering from this ailment.

All I can say is to be consistent with your “Petting Exams” and contact your veterinarian as soon as you see symptoms come up, because like everything else, it can get nasty fast.

From eye irritation to your dog scratching themselves until they bleed, dog allergies can vary in many ways and affect dogs differently. You can help your dog with changes in food, lifestyle, or simple medications, you just need to talk to your pet’s doctor.

Pet Insurance

I am a huge advocate for pet insurance, especially for those families who may have financial difficulties.

I consider pet insurance a type of savings plan for my pet. I may not need it now, but you never know when the unexpected will come up and a financial situation comes between keeping your pet healthy, or even alive in an emergency situation, and being able to afford what your pet requires.

I have seen too many pets go untreated for minor, but chronic, illnesses. Not because their owners didn’t want to make them feel better, but because they couldn’t afford the treatment that a chronic issue, like allergies, requires. It will often make the pet owners feel guilty. They want to be able to afford the expensive medication or food, they just can’t afford it.

Pet insurance can be a “cushion” to help absorb the financial part of your animal’s care, and allow you to care for your pet in ways that you may not have been able to do otherwise.

Read about the 10 best pet insurance companies in your area.

Read other posts on WhyMommaWhy Helps Animals too.

Check out Summer Warning: Walking Your Dog

Need an answer to a question that you can’t find at WhyMommaWhy Helps Animals Too? Contact me at whymommawhy@hotmail.com, or just post a question in the comments.

I’d love to be able to help!

Wanna read some of life’s crazy moments from a mom that’s not quite sure what she’s doing? Head over to WhyMommaWhy.blog.

Thanks for reading!

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