Spring Has Sprung: Tips for Ushering in the Warm Weather
By Amanda Landis-Hanna, DVM
Welcome to Spring! In northern Virginia we have been celebrating cherry and apple blossoms, and the return of a wonderful friend—the SUN! While sunshine and balmy temperatures make me (and most people) very happy, there are a few things I’d like you to keep in mind over the next few weeks:
- Sunscreen. Yes, I know, I harp on this one, but skin cancer is serious. Certain breeds, such as American Bulldogs, Staffordshire Terriers, and Pit Bull Mixes can be particularly predisposed to developing skin cancer in areas of the body where there is not much hair, including the groin. When they go out to sunbathe, that skin is exposed to UV rays, the same as our skin. And while a dog may not be concerned with premature aging on his tummy, skin cancer is a big deal. So apply sunscreen to your dog’s belly, and other areas exposed to the sun. Dog sunscreen works, as does pediatric sunscreen. You can even put an adorable T-shirt on your dog, if you’d like!
- Heat exposure. NEVER leave your dog in the car. Even in the shade. Even with a window down. Even if it will only be 5 minutes. Every single case of heat stress and heat stroke I have ever treated was a situation where the pet parent thought it wasn’t hot enough for long enough. DO NOT make this mistake, please! Always take your dog inside with you, or if you are going somewhere you can’t take him, leave him at home for his own safety.
- Itchiness. How is your dog’s skin right now? Is she comfortable, or is she itching up a storm? This time of year many dogs have allergy flare-ups due to atopy, or inhaled allergens. If you notice itching, chewing, licking, or rubbing, allergies may be to blame. Ear infections and skin infections often come along for the ride as well. If your dog is itching mildly, a moisturizing bath, with an oatmeal-based shampoo can be very soothing. She can have a bath weekly. If bathing her isn’t sufficient, talk with your veterinarian. She might have an infection, or may need medication to be more comfortable. (We did a review of new skin treatments a few weeks ago in this blog.) Remember, allergies are not just an annoyance. Allergies create inflammation, which can be painful for your dog. Don’t ignore it, treat it!
I hope you and your pup(s) are enjoying the beautiful weather. I wish you a happy and healthy Spring. Please post or send us pictures of your sun-loving dogs @mydogsvoyce and @DrLHVet!