It’s officially summer, and for many of us, that means lots of outdoor adventures with our dogs! As the summer temps start to rise, though, so does the risk of canine heat rash. Just like people, dogs can also develop uncomfortable (and even painful) heat rashes. But how do you know if your dog has a heat rash? And how can you prevent them from getting one? At East Valley Animal Hospital, we know that the Arizona heat can be hard on pets. Here’s how to tell whether or not your dog has a heat rash and what to do about it. 

What are the symptoms of dog heat rash? 

If your dog has been spending a lot of time outside in the hot sun, heat rash is definitely something that should be on your radar. Dogs who are overweight and dogs that have skin wrinkles and rolls are extra sensitive to heat rash. After a long walk or romp in the backyard, it’s a good idea to check your dog for any signs of heat rash.

Symptoms of dog heat rash include: 

  • Itchy and irritated skin
  • Tender and red skin in a concentrated area (typically near or underneath skin folds) 
  • Boils or small pimples in a concentrated area
  • Scabs and sores 
  • Continuous scratching and licking  

Because the symptoms of dog heat rash are similar to other kinds of skin irritations, it can be tricky to diagnose. If you notice any of the symptoms above, it’s best to consult your vet so you can rule out other conditions like allergies, infections, or insect bites. Your vet at East Valley Animal Hospital will be able to diagnose the cause of the rash and prescribe treatment for immediate relief.

What is the best treatment for dog heat rash? 

If your dog has a heat rash, the best thing to do is schedule a veterinary appointment as soon as possible. Even though heat rash typically begins as minor skin irritation, it can quickly transform into oozing and foul-smelling boils or pimples. In some cases, these areas can become infected with the Staphylococcus pathogen, which poses an even greater risk to your dog. 

While it can be tempting to try and treat dog heat rash at home, stretching the period of time between the initial development of the rash and its treatment could result in greater harm. Your dog will want to scratch or lick the irritated skin, which can lead to infections and further discomfort. That’s why we highly recommend bringing your dog in for a veterinary exam right away. 

However, if you’re unable to get to the vet immediately, there are things you can do at home to help prevent your dog’s rash from getting worse. First, keep your dog out of the sun—a cool, dry, indoor environment is best. Go for walks early in the morning in the late evening, to prevent further sun exposure. To help ease redness and irritation, you can place a cold, damp cloth over the affected area.

What can I do to prevent heat rash and other heat-related illnesses?

A dog’s normal body temperature ranges between 100 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit, which means that heat can affect them much faster than it affects us. Also, because dogs cannot sweat, their thick fur coats make hot temperatures even less bearable. The best way to avoid heat-related illnesses—especially in extremely hot or humid climates—is to limit the amount of time your dog spends outdoors in direct sunlight.

Always make sure there is shade available in your yard, and offer a splash of the hose or sprinkler to help keep your dog cool. Surfaces like concrete, pavement, and wood decking get hot quickly and are typically much hotter than the air temperature. Use extra caution if your dog will come into contact with these surfaces during the summer. 

Avoid long walks or hikes during the hottest hours of the day. Always keep an eye on your dog and be alert to signs of heat exhaustion like panting and fatigue, and make sure they have plenty of fresh drinking water to help regulate their body temperature. If you notice any symptoms of exhaustion, bring your dog into a cool, dry environment and offer them room-temperature water to drink.

Your Local Vet in Gilbert, Arizona

At East Valley Animal Hospital, we treat your pets like they are members of our family! It’s vital to us that you and your animal companions experience a stress-free environment when you visit our offices. We want everyone to feel cared for and comfortable. If you live in Gilbert, Chandler, or Mesa and you haven’t yet found a good local vet, give us a call today. We’d be honored to give your canine or feline the quality care they deserve! To schedule an appointment, call 480-568-2462 or contact us online.

Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst (6/21/2018)