I don't know about your pup, but my boxer loves to sunbathe. But, did you know that could cause skin issues?
In Austin, Texas, we're hitting triple digits this Summer and it's important to know how that can affect your pets - specifically your dog. While the temperature rises, outdoor activities might need to be cut short to prevent a common skin issue: Heat Rash.
Let's chat about what heat rash is, signs of heat rash, and how to soothe these skin hot spots.
What is Heat Rash?
Heat rash in dogs is caused by overexposure to heat or direct sunlight. Overexposure could simply be too much sun bathing, direct sun on a walk, or overheating without enough water.
Heat rashes can be uncomfortable and lead to overlicking and exposing the skin. And if left untreated, these areas can become open sores or wounds called hot spots.
Dogs that have a short to medium coat, lot of tender skin, or folded skin (Pug or Sharpei) are susceptible to heat rash.
Signs of Heat Rash on a Dog
Heat rashes in dogs tend to occur on the body where the skin is soft and sensitive and hair is sparse. The belly is a common spot for heat rashes, along with the armpits, groin, and skin folds.
Below are the common signs of heat rash in dogs:
- Red or pink blotches on low, fur areas (armpits, neck, tummy)
- Itchy or irritated skin
- Persistent scratching and licking of affected skin
- Boils, small pimples, pustules, bumps
- Foul or off skin odor
Experiencing any of these symptoms? If dog has been in hot and humid weather, heat rash could be the culprit of your dog's skin problems.
How to Avoid a Heat Rash
Heat rash is 100% treatable & preventable. Just abide by these simple rules and your dog can comfortably enjoy outside activities, even in the hottest Summer months.
- Always avoid long periods of time outside with your dog during the hottest parts of the day. This tends to be between 11AM - 6PM.
- Plan exercise and playtime accordingly; both you and your dog will be cooler in the morning and evenings. Keep walks or sunbathing times before 11AM or during the evening.
- Provide your pet with plenty of shade and freshwater at all times.
- If you can tell your dog or cat is hot but still wants to play, take frequent shade/water breaks, or move the activity indoors with air conditioning.
- Be proactive with a cooling bandana/vest or UV protection apparel.
Remedies for Dog Heat Rash
If your pet has a heat rash, here are steps to ensure it's quick treatment.
First off, cool your pup down. Without a proper cool down, your pet could suffer heat stroke. Go inside or find a shaded area.
In order to cool down, dogs and cats pant to release heat through the grooves in the roofs of their mouths, sweat (a little) through the pads on their paws and use a temperature exchange called convection. Thus, if the air around your pet is much hotter than their internal body temperature, they cannot properly cool down.
Next, apply a cooling or calming ointment or gel. The goal of any topical treatment is to reduce skin irritation and inflammation while helping your dog get relief from the heat. A few pet forward remedies we carry are hydrogel, wound gel, or a skin tonic.
If you don't have these on hand, there are a few at home options you can sub for including hydrocortisone cream, aloe vera, and cool towel.
Keep them occupied! While the calming ointment is at work, it's a good idea to keep them busy with their favorite toy or busy treat.
Tomlinson's Pro Tip: Our tried-and-true duo is a Toppl + Organic Peanut Butter. Freeze it for 15-20 mins and you've got yourself an hour long treat.
How to Avoid a Hot Spot
Reminder, a hot spot is an exposed area that is red and swollen due to overlicking, overitching, or by an untreated heat rash.
Hot spots are usually in armpits, top of paws, or on the back on the neck.
To avoid a hot spot, you'll need to pay close attention to the affected heat rash area. Here are a few steps to follow:
- Go through the remedies of a Heat Rash (above) - making sure to apply a hydrogel, wound gel, or a skin tonic.
- Use a comfortable dog cone. We always have this one on hand.
- Monitor, monitor, monitor! Without covering the area make sure they can't access the treated area. Licking and/or covering could start an infection.
If your pup has crossed into the hot spot zone and the wound becomes moist or matted with or without discharge pus or fluid, consult with your vet. At this point, it may require some antibiotics and topical treatments to fix.
Looking for more Summer tips?
Check out our comprehensive guide on how to help your pet beat the heat. Tomlinson's is your go-to pet supply store for natural, healthy pet products in Austin and the Central Texas region. Come shop in-store and we will help you pick out the healthiest products and food for your dog or cat.