Downeast Dog News

Summer Skin Care For Your Dog

By Loren Candito DVM DACVD | Jul 01, 2019

Summer is just around the corner. Here are some tips to be sure your 4 legged companion is ready for the summer season.


Most pets do not require sunscreen on a daily basis. Dogs with naturally short hair or no hair, dogs whose coats have been shaved, dogs with light colored hair and skin, and dogs with certain immune triggered skin conditions (like discoid lupus) may benefit from sun protection. Sunscreen can be applied to susceptible areas (like the nose and belly) to help protect from burns. Choose a gentle human or pet approved sunscreen that does not have a label warning against consumption (infant/child sunscreen or pet sunscreen are safest). Avoid sunscreens that contain zinc or salicylates as these can be harmful for dogs if ingested. A sun-shirt is another option for pets who need large areas of their body protected, as is sun avoidance, especially between 10 am and 2pm.


Warmer weather brings out a host of ectoparasites, including fleas, ticks, and biting insects. Flea and tick control is a must for the summer season in Maine. Flea exposure can lead to scratching and skin rashes, as well as exposing pets to intestinal parasites like tapeworms. Ticks can transmit a large number of diseases to pets, including Lyme disease. Thankfully, there are many safe and effective flea and tick products available to choose from, including monthly topical spot-on treatments, oral flea tablets, and a veterinary approved collar that lasts for the season. It’s important to use a veterinary approved product to safely give your pet the best protection. If your dog swims frequently, speak to your veterinarian about using a flea control product that is given by mouth, as topical spot-on products work less well with frequent swimming or bathing. If your pet experiences irritation from insect bites (most commonly seen as a small red ring on the belly with a central red spot or as bumps on the ear flaps), speak with your veterinarian about a flea control product with repellent action.

Paw Protection

As temperatures rise, streets and sidewalks can become hazardous for pets out for a walk. Pavement absorbs heat, leading to a potentially dangerous situation even when the air temperature still feels comfortable. Paw pads can become burned if exposed to hot pavement. An easy way to test the side-walk, to assure it’s safe for your pet, is to hold the back of your hand against the surface for at least 7 seconds. If it’s too hot to do this comfortably, stick to walking on grassy areas, try to walk earlier or later in the day when the sun is not as strong, or consider booties to protect the paws.


Summertime also brings seasonal allergy symptoms. Although some dogs will show signs of hay fever like sneezing and watery running eyes, the most common allergy signs we see in dogs are itching, scratching, biting, licking and chewing at the body, along with rashes and infections on the skin and in the ears. Rinsing off allergens at home can to help reduce allergy symptoms. Regular bathing with a gentle shampoo or if bathing is not possible, wiping your dog down with a damp cloth each time they come inside, can help. Antihistamines are not as helpful in dogs as people, and antihistamines with decongestants are unsafe for dogs. Luckily, there are a number of medications your veterinarian can prescribe to help control seasonal allergy symptoms. If your pet continues to experience allergy signs such as excessive scratching or recurrent skin rashes, talk with your veterinarian or set up an appointment with a Veterinary Dermatologist for allergy testing for your pet.


Loren Candito DVM DACVD

Staff Dermatologist

Portland Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Care