The Only Locally-Owned Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Minnesota

Four Concerns for Your Pet’s Skin This Summer

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If your pet is experiencing an allergic reaction, burns, or ear/skin infections, symptoms may vary in severity:

  • Difficulty breathing or severe burn wounds are considered “RED” – or true emergencies– on our Fast Track Triage system. We advise you to seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!
  • Facial swelling, hives, and small wounds are considered “YELLOW” – or semi-urgent case – on our Fast Track Triage system. We recommend having your pet evaluated by your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital within 24 hours. Call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team expects you, and if your pet’s condition worsens, call back to inform them of the status change.
  • Hair loss and red eyes, skin, and ears are considered “GREEN” – or non-urgent cases – on our Fast Track Triage system. This means emergency care isn’t needed, but your pet should be evaluated by your family veterinarian within the next few days.
    • Note: If it’s hot out and your dog has been exercising in the heat, red eyes, skin, and ears may be a result of heat exhaustion instead of allergies. Learn more about heat risks here. 

Warmer weather means more time outside…but unfortunately, the great outdoors comes with increased risks for our pets. One risk that is often overlooked is our pet’s skin health! Just like humans, different elements of summer fun can cause a variety of symptoms like itchy or red skin. So as your pet enjoys time outside with you, be sure to watch for any of these potential warm weather skin concerns.  

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1. Black Fly & Gnat Bites 

You may have seen those bright red, circular, flat lesions on your dog’s belly. If they are not bothersome, and your dog has been lying in the grass or traipsing through the woods, these could be gnat or black fly bites. The good news is that such bites will resolve on their own and are not a threat to your pet’s health. However, if the lesions are itchy, become bigger, progress into more lesions, or last for more than three days, a visit to your family veterinarian is in order.  

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2. Burns 

Does your dog or adventurous cat take a dip in the nasty pond in your neighborhood, and you want to bathe them? Be careful with the garden hose! Water that sits in the hose throughout the day can become extremely hot and burn your pet. If you must use the hose, let the water run for a minute to flush out the hot water, but if bathing your pet inside is an option, that’s ideal. Keep in mind that pavement, decks, and sand can also get hot in the sun so check these surfaces with a bare foot or hand before letting your pet walk or lie down.  

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3. Swimming 

Many pets enjoy a dip in the lake or pool. However, these can lead to skin and ear infections in certain dogs. If you notice your dog displaying any of the following signs after a swim, talk to your family veterinarian.   

Signs of an Ear Infection: 

  • Red ears 
  • Odor 
  • Shaking head 
  • Scratching Ears 

Signs of a Skin Infection:  

  • Rash 
  • Patchy hair loss 
  • Scaling 
  • Redness 

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4. Allergies 

Summer is peak allergy season for both dogs and cats. Signs include scratching, biting, licking, chewing, rubbing, and infections (as noted above). If you see these signs, discuss with your family veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dermatologist, as there are many treatment options available.  

We hope this list helps you keep your pet’s skin safe and comfortable throughout the summer! If you notice anything abnormal about your pet’s skin during these warmer months, consult with your family veterinarian or board-certified veterinary dermatologist to determine a diagnosis and develop the best treatment plan to help your pet. 

Learn more about Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota’s Dermatology Service here 

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