Keeping Your Pet Cool and Itch-Free During the Minnesota Summer
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Keeping Your Pet Cool and Itch-Free During the Minnesota Summer

In Minnesota, summers are the perfect time to get out and enjoy the outdoors - picnics, lakes, camping, nature walks, and dog parks are just a few of the many outdoor adventures that pet owners love to do with their pets. But, for our furry companions, the heat, humidity and abundance of environmental allergens can pose a challenge to their comfort and skin health. This article will be your guide to help beat the Minnesota heat and keep your pet cool, comfortable and itch-free all summer long. 

Let's take a look at some of the more common skin issues pets throughout Minnesota experience during the summer:

  • Allergies - environmental allergies are a big concern when it comes to skin problems. Pollen and mold spores are often to blame. 
  • Flea Bites - even though fleas can be a problem year-round, they are most active and their populations explode in warm, humid weather. These bites can cause intense itching and irritation. 
  • Mosquito Bites - pets aren’t immune to the pesky mosquitoes, and just like when humans get bit, their bites can cause itching but they can even trigger allergic reactions for some or even transmit disease. 
  • Hot Spots - these moist, inflamed areas of skin typically develop on a pet’s head, legs or chest from excessive licking or scratching. They are usually due to underlying allergies, bites or other skin infections so it is important to get them treated.

Allergens to be Aware of in Minnesota

  • Pollen - tree pollen tends to peak in April-June, grass pollen May-July, and weed pollen are at their peak in August and remain until a hard frost in the fall.
  • Mold - another year-round problem, but mold thrives in warm, humid conditions. Mold spores are known to trigger allergies  in some pets.
  • Mosquitoes - not only are they annoying, but can also transmit heartworm and other diseases to our pets

Prevention is Key to Keeping Your Pet Cool and Comfortable This Summer

  • Grooming - regular bathing helps remove allergens, dirt and dead skin cells that can contribute to irritating the skin. It also helps you keep an eye on possible signs of concern. 
  • Parasite Control - it is important to prevent parasites year-round, but especially during the summer months when fleas and ticks are at their peak. Check with your veterinarian for their recommended option for your pet.
  • Diet - a diet rich in fatty acids can help promote a healthy skin and coat, which makes it less susceptible to inflammation. It can also be helpful to discuss a hypoallergenic or skin support diet with your veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist if you suspect allergies.  Be sure to check with your vet before making any significant dietary changes. 
  • Sun Block - just like in humans, UV light can damage dog and cat skin.  Areas that are most at risk include the nose, eyelids and ear tips, especially if there is white fur or unpigmented skin, and abdomen (for those sunbathers out there). There are sunscreen and sun blocking clothing options for pets.
  • Cool Down - ensure your pet has access to shade and plenty of fresh, clean water. Take walks when the temperatures are cooler, like early morning or evening. Cooling mats, frozen treats and kiddie pools are also possible options to keep them cool and comfortable. 

When to Reach Out to a Pet Dermatologist

While the tips above can help prevent and manage some common skin problems, some pets develop complex skin conditions that require specialized treatment. Early intervention is best. This is where a pet dermatologist comes in. A veterinary dermatologist has extensive training in diagnosing and treating a range of skin and coat problems in pets. They have access to advanced diagnostic tools and specialized medications to effectively treat and manage even the most complex skin conditions.

Here are a few signs you should seek help from a pet dermatologist:

  • Persistent itching, licking or chewing
  • Signs of  infection (redness, inflammation, pus, crusts)
  • Hair loss
  • Skins sores that won’t heal
  • Disruptions in sleep due to itching

Minnesota summers can be a lot of fun for both humans and our furry companions, and with some preventative care and a little planning, you can ensure your pet remains cool, comfortable and is able to enjoy an itch-free summer of adventure. Reach out to the team at Haarstad Veterinary Dermatology if you suspect your pet is dealing with any of the symptoms listed above, we’re here to help!