Summer skin problems

Summer can be a difficult time for our pets, stings, grass seeds, heatstroke and fly strike can all cause major problems for them. But for some of our pets summer is the peak of a problem that can be all year round. If your pet suffers from allergies certain pollens or grasses can be at their highest level in the summer period. For some of our pets parasites can be a huge pest and so it’s important to ensure your pet has adequate preventative cover. Finally microbial infections can flare up in hot conditions and lead to painful sores and irritation developing. We’ll discuss these three areas in more detail below.


Allergies (also known as atopy)

Pets can be allergic to a number of things but the common cause of allergies (allergens) to flare up in summer are the pollens or grasses that are at their highest level in this period. The animal develops a hypersensitivity to the pollen, grass or other allergens and this can result in self trauma, spots or red sore developing. The animal may chew their hair out or lose it from itching.
Allergies can occur all year round and with the longer hotter weather we can see grass or pollen allergies for most of the year. Speak to your vet if you think your pet may have allergies. Treatment may range from skin supplements or shampoos to support a healthy skin barrier to medication to reduce the itching or to change the body’s response to the allergen. These may be tablets, injections or a combination of multiple treatments. Allergies can be difficult to treat and diagnose exactly as there are so many possible causes of allergies. Often by the time your pet shows signs they may have already traumatised their skin which can lead to secondary infections and your pet may need treatment for these too. Treatment for allergies can often be lifelong and depending on the allergen may need all year round medication.


Parasites such as fleas or mites can be a well known problem in the hot weather. Our pets spend more time outdoors and mixing with other pets which means the spread of these parasites can be easy and the heat gives them an ideal breeding situation so they multiply at a rapid rate. Don’t forget that switching on the heating in winter can lead to similar problems as it mimics the hot weather in summer.

Flea bites are normally red small dots and can be anywhere on the animal’s body but in particular can be found around the rump area or along the spines. There may also be hair loss and redness around the area from self trauma. Mites cause redness and irritation. Depending on the type of mite the severity of the crusting, hair loss and irritation can vary. Your veterinary team will be able to advise you about a suitable product for your pet. Remember to mention if you are going away as even within the UK there can be variations of what is a suitable preventative cover. Depending on the parasite treatment needed it may come as a spot on liquid, a tablet or a worn product and these may last for up to 3-6 months. If you find you have a flea problem always remember to  treat the environment too as eggs can be laid and then hatch out into more parasites.


Microbial infections

Microbial infections can include causes such as bacterial or fungal agents. Microbial infections are not always the initial problem and may be secondary to problems with parasites or allergies. Infections can rapidly cause a pet to become very irritated and have inflammation over the skin. This might present as papules (red raised dots) or pustules (pus filled green spots). There may also be discharge and hair loss in the area affected. Fungal infections can include problems with yeasts and they can lead to a distinctive smell and discharge in the area.

Speak to your vet about treatments and tests they may need to perform to diagnose the condition your pet is suffering with. Often tests are required to ascertain the type of microbes that need to be treated. Some pets need lifelong management to reduce the build up of bacteria or yeast. This may mean regular bathing in a medicated shampoo, wipes or supplements to maintain a healthy skin bacteria to fight off the bacteria which can cause a problem. It is always important to avoid just treating the infection as if there is an underlying problem the problem will just keep recurring until is it addressed.


Skin issues can be one of the most common reasons that pets are brought to the vets, but they can be some of the most frustrating and troublesome problems to treat. Always try and take your pet as soon as possible as leaving the problem is probably going to cause a secondary problem. Not only will your pet be suffering but more treatment may be required and the costs may mount up depending on the amount of treatment required. Quick intervention with your vet should reduce the amount of medication needed as well as having your pet feeling back to normal as soon as possible.

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