If dogs could talk, they would probably complain that they really don’t look forward to summer.
Not only do they find it difficult to keep cool, but they very often develop a skin irritation that they cannot help scratching. The more they scratch the more they get scolded for leaving hair on the carpet or merely because they make their owners feel uncomfortable.
Check the animal’s general state of health: diet, eczema, overactive scent glands, infection and sores from scratching fleas, etc.
How can I soothe my dog’s itchy skin? Mix 1 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil to every 300 ml of warm water and comb this through their fur. Serious complaints, or those from no obvious cause, should be referred to your vet.
Canine eczema, like human dermatitis, has many different causes, only some of which are understood. Certainly, the presence of fleas is important, and unless they are eliminated it is impossible to control the disease.
Dogs and cats are very susceptible to skin irritations while they are molting, and regular brushing and combing during this time is necessary to speed the elimination of the dead hair. Some animals seem hypersensitive to grasses and even dyes in fabrics and carpets.
To help relieve the itchy dog, a bath in cold water is helpful. If desired, a mild shampoo, such as Triocil, may be used but it is mainly the effect of the cold water on the nerve endings in the inflamed skin which helps to break the itching scratching cycle.
In some cases, the itchy area may be quite localized often on the rump or at the base of the ears. The dog tends to rub or scratch the area so vigorously that the skin becomes raw and weeping. This condition needs urgent treatment to prevent too much damage to the deeper layers of the skin. Very often a secondary bacterial infection is involved which requires antibiotics both locally and by mouth.
Skin cancer is quite common in some animals. Cats and dogs with white faces and no pigmentation of the skin on the face suffer sunburning. Over the years the skin becomes thickened and eventually small, darkened raised areas develop which are cancerous growths. The tips of the ears are affected first but these growths can be controlled by the surgical removal of the diseased portions of the ear.
The biggest problem occurs when the growths develop on the nose. As the tumor progresses it erodes more of the nostril until so much of the inner nasal tissue is exposed the cat sneezes constantly and tends to either lick or wipe its nose with its paw causing considerable bleeding. Surgical excision is not possible in this area and attempts to use radiotherapy are of little value.
The only preventive measures possible aim to screen these sensitive areas from the sun’s rays. Sunscreen ointment, zinc cream or even purple dyes have been tried and may help to delay the onset of cancer.
Tattooing the ears and nose is probably the best preventive measure but it must be done early in the cat’s life before the pre-cancerous changes in the skin cells have occurred.
Another annoyance for dogs in the summer months is flies and mosquitos. Blowflies can strike dogs and cats with discharging wounds or with matted hair which becomes wet and contaminated around the tail area.
Biting flies attack the tips of the ears in dogs with long erect ears, such as German Shepherds. The surface of the ear becomes encrusted with dark dried blood which seems to attract more and more flies giving the animal little peace.
Mosquito bites can cause considerable irritation to dogs with very short coats, but their main importance is in the transmission of heartworm. If you have not already done so have your dog tested for heartworm and discuss with your veterinary surgeon the best means of prevention for your particular pet.