How you can make this your pet’s best summer
Summertime in Florida is brutal at times and summer weather has already arrived here well in advance of the summer solstice. The heat is unbearable and just when it starts cooling down in the evening, mosquitoes show up and start biting. A good part of my day seems to be spent putting protective chemicals on my skin for one reason or another. Although I don’t particularly like heat that makes you feel as though your skin is melting off your body, I still prefer it to shoveling snow or having to bundle up in puffy layers just to get out of the house. Truthfully, the bottom line for me is this: when I’m feeling happy and relaxed I can tolerate heat, cold, wet, dry, or pretty much anything that comes my way. When I’m not feeling so great, even the smallest irritation can translate to something huge in my mind.
Happiness is an “inside job” and one of the best ways for me to remain happy and healthy is to surround myself with happy and positive people, eat right, and get enough sleep. Falling passionately in love with another is probably the absolute best way to keep most anyone smiling regardless of the season, geographical location, or temperature extremes, especially when that love is reciprocated. How do I know this? Let’s just say I recently met someone whom I love very much. Just the thought of her throughout the day immediately lifts the stress off my neck, instills peace to my chest, and fills my heart with love. But how do we help our pets cope with summer health hazards?
Since it’s unlikely that my dog Duke will find the love of his life, his soul mate, and the woman of his dreams, I have to help Duke deal with the effects of the unrelenting Florida heat and biting parasites in the best way that I know how. I considered opening an E-Pet Harmony Dating internet site to help Duke out, but I was unable to work out some of the logistics of the operation…
Weather can be a contributing factor in the health of your pet’s skin. For example, in dry climates moisture can evaporate from your dog’s skin preventing the skin from getting hydrated properly, especially if your dog doesn’t have an adequate water intake. Regularly using a mild pet shampoo that contains ingredients intended to moisten the skin can help. Pet shampoos that contain aloe Vera have been used successfully in moisturizing the skin and preventing it from getting itchy. Grooming the pet regularly can help prevent the hair from clumping together, which could potentially create an environment where bacteria can flourish and spread. Another advantage to grooming is that it allows you to keep on top of any developing skin problems before they get bigger and more difficult to treat or manage.
The most common cause of skin allergies is fleas, and as you’ve probably noticed, the warm summer months is when those pests tend to flourish. In dogs, flea allergy dermatitis is caused by allergic reactions to components of flea saliva. Treatment includes flea control, with spot-on or the newer oral flea treatments, and in some cases treatment of secondary bacterial or yeast infections.
Many pet skin conditions/itchy skin problems are, at some level, related to extremes in temperature although at first glance the link may not be apparent. The second most common allergic skin disease in dogs is atopic dermatitis, a hereditary and chronic allergic skin disease. Normally harmless substances like grass, dust mites, mold spores, and other environmental allergens can bring on allergic reactions resulting in skin inflammation and itching during certain times of year or when the pet’s defenses are in a weakened state. While this condition rarely goes into remission or resolves, corticosteroids and antihistamines can reduce itching.
Acute moist dermatitis or “hot spots” are inflamed and infected areas of skin irritation worsened by a dog licking/biting itself, with an underlying staphylococcus bacterial infection. Treatment includes oral and topical antibiotic application, and corticosteroids.
Demodectic mange is a skin disease caused by the mite Demodex canis. These microscopic mites live in virtually all adult dogs without harm or irritation, but dogs without inadequate immune systems may be sensitive to the mites. Signs include hair loss and crusty, red skin. Demodectic mange is usually treated with topical skin medications, and antibiotics are often given for underlying skin infections.
While these are a few of the more common conditions, there are numerous others as well. Many of these treatments require veterinary prescription, so a trip to the veterinarian may be warranted if your dog seems to be having symptoms of a skin disease.
Anytime you are faced with a pet who is suffering from a condition that developed out of nowhere or seems to be getting worse instead of better, it’s time to make an appointment with the veterinarian. The veterinarian has most likely seen many times the exact symptoms that your pet is suffering from and has an arsenal of treatment options including medications like corticosteroids that can be extremely helpful with certain skin conditions. Drugs like prednisone are sometimes prescribed for a short period of time to help relieve symptoms if they become unbearable. It’s always better to be cautious and take the dog to the veterinarian rather than wait too long until the situation becomes much more difficult to control.
As always, if you have a medication related question, you can call a 1800Petmeds Pharmacist who will be happy to answer those for you.