Cures for the doggy summertime skin blues

Trail running, swimming, hiking — healthy outdoor recreation forms loving bonds and beautiful memories as we bask in the summertime glow with our pets.
But, just as in people, exposing the skin to the outdoors can lead to troublesome inconveniences and even life-threatening conditions. It helps to be aware of these treatable and preventable skin conditions as you venture outside this summer.
Allergies of the skin and ears
Do you suffer from seasonal or year-round allergies? Dogs commonly do, too. Allergens from grasses, trees and weeds can cause allergies to flare up for indoor and outdoor dogs. Summer can be a challenging time of year for many dogs with allergies when they are exposed to pollen through outdoor activities.
Canine allergies manifest as skin and ear problems, including:
• Licking, biting, scratching and rubbing of the skin, and shaking of the head.
• Persistent foot-licking is a common sign.
• The skin may can be red, greasy, with small red bumps, scabs or patches of hair loss due to secondary infection.
• Wax or even pus may discharge from red, painful ears.
• You may also notice an unpleasant odor from the skin or ears.
If your dog is exhibiting these signs, it is important to seek veterinary care to identify and treat secondary infections and to treat the pain and itch. Your veterinarian can perform quick tests to look for mite infestations, infections and other curable skin problems that can mimic allergies.
Ear treatments should be per-formed under the recommendation of a veterinarian. Inappropriate treatments can make the situation worse or even lead to dizziness or reduced hearing.
There are now allergy tests for dogs marketed online directly to dog owners. These tests ask for saliva or hair samples. They are not recommended by veterinary dermatologists as they have been found to be very inaccurate. In fact, the tests come back positive even when only water is sampled.
There are many new anti-inflammatory medications, sham-poos and topical applications, and ear treatments for allergies in dogs. They can even perform skin allergy tests on dogs.
Simple tips to help allergy sufferers:
• Bathe or rinse your dog weekly during the pollinating months to remove pollen from the skin.
• Oatmeal-based shampoos can temporarily reduce mild itch.
• Wipe the paws and underbelly after outdoor activity with a damp cloth to remove pollen.
Sun damage and skin cancer in white dogs
Dogs with short, white coats and white skin that spend time in the sun may suffer sunburn and long-term damage that may lead to skin cancers.
Sunburns present in dogs similarly to people as red, painful skin. If your dog experiences an acute, severe sunburn, seek veterinary care.
Long-term sun exposure can lead to thickening, scaling and bumps on the skin which if untreated, may result in skin cancer.
Sunburn and skin cancers can be prevented entirely by limiting sun exposure in the peak sun hours of the day (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Discourage sunbathing if your dog has a white, short coat. You may also put a T-shirt on your pup and apply child-safe sunscreen to prevent burns and skin cancer.
Thermal sunburns
in black dogs
Dogs with black or dark-brown hair are also at risk for severe burns in the sun if they are outside in non-shaded areas during extreme heat. This has been shown to occur in temperatures at or about 90 degrees in less than 30 minutes. Because black hair absorbs approximately 50 percent more solar heat energy, the temperature of the skin rapidly rises, causing painful and severe burns on the back.
If your dog has a dark coat, do not keep your pet outdoors for extended periods in unshaded areas during hot weather. If you must venture outdoors with your pet during extreme heat, limit the time outdoors and provide shade and water. If shade and water are not available, put a white shirt (preferably soaked in water) on your dog.
And always check the temp-erature of water exiting the hose before you spray down your dog as hoses left in the heat can lead to dangerously hot water.
Wildfire preparedness presentation
On July 26, the CSU Extension office will host the presentation “Wildfire Preparedness: It’s Never Too Late Until It’s Too Late — Learn how to protect yourself and loved ones from the threat of wildfire.”
This presentation will walk you through the process of how to manage vegetation, get your home prepared, and how to plan for evacuation for people and animals.
The program will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Extension office. Please call 264-5931 for more information.
Archuleta County Fair
The Archuleta County Fair will be Aug. 2-5.
Open classes are available for all Archuleta County residents. Admission costs $4 for adults, and $2 for youth 12 and under. You can purchase wristbands $12 for adults and $6 for youth. Tickets can be purchased at the gate.
All information can be found on the website at
CPR and first aid classes
CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the Colorado State University Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 pm. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.
We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.

This story was posted on July 16, 2018.