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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

Not So Fun in the Sun: Dog Skin Issues You May Encounter This Summer

Hound scratching.

Skin problems can happen any time of the year, but our veterinarians at Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic tend to see more of them during the warmer months of the year. Learn what skin issues might plague your pooch this season, what to do about them, and in some cases, how to prevent them.

The Big 5

There are many different problems that affect our pets’ skin. Many can appear similarly and require diagnostic testing and an expert eye to pinpoint. Here are a few skin issues that we see a lot of in the summer months. 

The big five include:

  1. Flea allergy dermatitis–Fleas are at their peak activity levels during the summer months, and while these tiny parasites can be irritating in and of themselves, some pets experience an actual allergic reaction to the flea saliva. This can persist for 2 weeks after a single flea bite.
  2. Atopy–Atopic dermatitis is a condition in which the skin’s normal immune system is defective, leaving it open to having allergic reactions to many allergens such as pollens, dusts, molds, and weeds. Atopic dermatitis is not always seasonal, but many affected pets have a rough time during the summer months. 
  3. Contact dermatitis–Close contact with something irritating or allergy inducing can lead to an itchy, uncomfortable rash. Many pets will experience contact dermatitis on their underside after contact with the grass or may have irritation secondary to things like chlorine from a dip in the pool. 
  4. Sunburn–Sun exposure isn’t just a concern for people. Pets can experience sunburn especially on more vulnerable places like unhaired skin, the tips of the ears, and the nose. Some autoimmune skin conditions are exacerbated by sun exposure.
  5. Ear and other skin infections–Imbalances in the skin’s normal flora, often secondary to inflammation from allergies or irritants, can lead to infections. Ear infections (otitis externa) and moist dermatitis (hot spots) are common summer issues. 

How to Help Your Pup

Don’t let your dog suffer from summer skin problems. If you notice symptoms like itching, redness, hair loss, or a bad odor, make an appointment to see us right away. It is important for us to identify the problem so that we can treat it effectively.

Depending on the underlying issue, things like medicated shampoos, topical treatments, antibiotics, steroids, or longer term medications for allergies and itching may be prescribed. 

Preventing Dog Skin Issues Where Possible

While not all summer dog skin issues are preventable, there are definitely some things that you can do to try to ward off trouble this season. Be sure to:

  • Keep your pet up to date on good quality flea prevention
  • Rinse your pet after swimming in the pool or other bodies of water
  • Clean your pet’s ears periodically and after swimming with a commercial ear cleaning solution
  • Avoid shaving double coated dogs which can decrease sun protection 
  • Try to keep your pet indoors when the sun’s beams are at their strongest (usually from around 10 am to 2 pm)
  • Ulilitize pet safe sunscreen or UV protective clothing. Dermoscent® SunFREE is a good brand.
  • Use unscented baby wipes in a pinch to clean your pet’s more delicate areas of pollens or other irritants

Don’t let summer skin issues ruin your fun in the sun! With a little effort many issues can be avoided and, if they happen anyways, we are here to help