Bites and Stings
Insects and bugs are abundant in the summer months, so bites and stings are commonly suffered by dogs. Tick bites are extremely common in the US. These little parasites are very active in summer. They hang around vegetation, just waiting for a passing dog that they can jump on. They then burrow into the skin to get to the blood, but leave your dog with a wound covered in bacteria and possible inflammation.
Other insects to be aware of are bees, wasps, mites, hornets and fleas. There are many flea treatments available, from preventative powders and collars to medicated shampoos.
If your dog suffers an allergic reaction to a sting or a bite, products such as Zesty Paws Allergy Immune Supplement may be helpful, but always check with your vet.
Nearly 3.5 million tonnes of barley grass is grown annually in the US. In the summer months, this grass produces barbed seeds. If dogs run loose among the long grass, there’s a high probability that they will end up with a seed or two causing them some problems.
Barley grass seeds can stick into the skin between the toes, or anywhere else on the body. Once there, if they’re not removed promptly, the seed will start to burrow under your hound’s skin. The dog will lick at it to try and remove it. This often works, but if it doesn’t, there may be signs of pus or blood where the seed has entered the skin. Either you, or your vet will need to get it out. You could try using a Kaolin Clay poultice to try and draw the seed to the surface. Just remember, if you prepare a poultice to put on your hound’s skin, make sure it’s no warmer than body temperature (38°C or 100.4°F). Poultices can burn skin quite easily if they’re too hot, or left on too long.
Another common area for these seeds to go is in your dog’s ear. If this occurs they will feel pain immediately, and run out of the grass shaking their head, or tilting it toward the sore side. Check immediately, and if you can’t see the lodged seed, you could try irrigating the ear with an ear cleaner or some saline solution. This clip shows you exactly how to do that.
If this fails to wash the seed out, go to your vet. It may require a small surgery to remove, as the seed will be too deep inside the ear canal to remove while your dog is awake.
The best way to avoid this problem is to steer clear of barley grass in the summer.
Called ‘acute moist dermatitis’ or ‘pyo-traumatic dermatitis’. Acute just means ‘sudden onset’.
These sores are also known as ‘hot spots’. This is usually a focal area of infection caused by bacteria on the dog’s skin, and often due to an underlying skin condition. The skin then breaks down, often due to nibbling, rubbing or friction caused by your pup.
These sores are very itchy and your dog will try to scratch them incessantly. They are often round the dog’s face or down the sides of their body, known as the flanks. You may see a clear discharge or crusty surface on the lesion.
The most important thing is to stop your dog from nibbling or scratching the sore. As long as your vet has ruled out anything else that needs treatment, you can often deal with this at home. There are many dog allergy medicines available which you can have in your store cupboard. Natural Dog Company Skin Soother may be helpful in calming your dog’s skin.
Clip back any long hair from the affected area. Good grooming is essential to your dog’s health. Bathe your dog with an antibacterial shampoo such as Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Anti-parasitic & Anti-seborrheic on a weekly basis, and make sure your flea prevention is up to date.
If you live in a hot climate, or you have high temperature summer days, then your dog may be at risk of heat stress. Long coated dogs may benefit from clipping. Do this in the spring months leading up to the hot season. Dogs can overheat rapidly, and if they don’t have an opportunity to cool down they can collapse and quickly die.
NEVER leave your dog in the car on a warm day. Even if you think it’s not too warm, the temperature inside the car is a lot more than outside. Leaving the windows open a little does not help in this situation. Hundreds of dogs die every year by being left in hot cars.
If you find your dog in an overheated state, such as heavy panting, frothing at the mouth and lethargic, get them covered in cool/cold water as soon as possible. Monitor them closely to make sure they revive well.
If your dog has collapsed, this is an emergency, you need to get to a vet. Try to cool them down on the way.
When it comes to heat stress, prevention is paramount.
Another summer hazard for dogs is cracked foot pads. These pads are essentially a layer of skin over a fat pad. They act as a shock absorbent, and prevent injury to the delicate foot bones. They are usually black or pink in color, and depending on the usual walking terrain of your dog, they may be rough or smooth.
Uneven surfaces and hot pavements can cause burns and cracking, which can be very painful. If you’re not sure whether the pavement is too hot, put the back of your hand on it and count slowly to six. If you can’t tolerate the heat, neither can your dog.
Summer often gets us out and about in the great outdoors. If you go for long hikes on rough ground, check your dog’s paws at the end of the day.
For seriously damaged paws, there are ointments such as Dog Paw Balm, which will ease the pain, and soften the pads.
You could consider getting some boots for your dog if the pads are very damaged, or just let your dog rest up and recover. Check the pads every day to make sure they are improving.
Simple ailments in hounds can occur commonly and in cycles. By keeping a few simple products in your store cupboard, you will always be ready to apply some simple first-aid. Remember though, prevention is always the best cure, for just about everything. Always check with your vet before treating any conditions that are new or not previously diagnosed.