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How to Care for your Dog’s Skin this Summer

Jun 20, 2018
How to Care for your Dog’s Skin this Summer

Now that it’s (finally!) warmer, you’re likely spending more time outside, and so is your dog. And as you start applying sunscreen and bug spray, you may start wondering if your dog also needs this type of preventative care. So for this blog, we’re going to answer questions about summer skin care for dogs.

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Do dogs get sunburned?

Most dogs can sunburn. Even dogs with thick coats still often have exposed noses and earflaps – two common places for burns. Dogs also burn on balding or thinned patches of fur, as well as on their bellies, where the hair/fur is thinner. Dogs with pink skin and/or thin hair, like Staffordshire Terriers, Boxers, Greyhounds and Dalmatians, are most at risk for all-over sunburn.

If your dog spends significant time outdoors, apply sunscreen to his ears, nose, and any other exposed areas. You can find pet sunscreen online and in specialty pet stores. Some human sunscreen is safe for dogs – the fragrance-free type made for children is best—but never use sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), as those ingredients are toxic to animals. Also be sure to provide shaded, covered areas for your dog to get out of the sun. And if your dog will be at the beach, put sunscreen on her belly too, and reapply sunscreen to all areas after swimming.

We live in the city. Can my dog get ticks?

There are several kinds of ticks that live in South Carolina, and they are found in rural and urban areas. Since your dog most likely wanders outside, and may seek out wooded areas or tall grasses, then he is at risk of getting ticks in spring and summer. Thus, an important part of warm-weather care is preventing ticks. Oral medicines like Frontline and K9 Advantix work through the bloodstream, so ticks won’t want to bite your dog. Sprays and treated collars can work on the outside of your dog’s skin to prevent ticks. Whatever prevention you’re using, you should also always check your dog for ticks after he has spent time outdoors. Get tips on how and where to look for ticks here.

My dog seems hot. Should I shave off his coat?

While your dog may seem hot under that long coat of hair, the same hair layers that keep him warm in winter also help keep him cool in summer. So shaving a dog can actually remove the layers of coats that work as a natural temperature regulator. So most dogs don’t need to be shaved. That said, dogs with truly thick and heavy coats, dogs who spend a lot of time outside, and dogs who spend a lot of time in water may benefit from a close summer cut. But don’t shave all the way to the skin, or you’ll put him at risk for sunburn (leave at least an inch of hair). And remember, always hire a professional for dog grooming – trying to shave a dog at home can result in cutting, scraping or burning your dog’s tender skin.

Do I have to rinse my dog off after swimming?

Your dog’s skin is a natural barrier against most of the things you’ll find living in a lake, stream or ocean, so you don’t have to wash him off with shampoo after every swim. That said, rinsing your dog in fresh water can help prevent infections that my get through a cut, as well as remove trapped water from under the coat. After a dog swims in the ocean or bay, rinse him with fresh water to prevent salt from caking on his skin and paws. And if your dog has long hair, towel dry him after swimming so that his skin doesn’t stay moist (which can lead to bacterial infection), and towel-dry his ears to prevent fungal or bacterial infections.

Got more questions? Make an appointment to talk with our vets today. We’re happy to help you prepare your dog for a fun and healthy summer.

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