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Summer heat causes problems in dogs
Vet Report

Summer heat causes problems in dogs

Candid Canine Corner

Jake says, ‘I really like playing with the cows; we really like each other!’ as he licks a cow’s nose on the McKoon farm at the edge of Nauvoo, Illinois. 'I'm good at getting raccoons and opossums, and I really like to play in the water!' Jake is half Český Fousek, a quarter Great Dane and a quarter Bulldog. He likes to go on adventures.

Jake lives with Cale McKoon near Burlington, Iowa, across the Mississippi River from the family farm.

Tri-State Neighbor Columnist

Dr. Lainie Kringen-Scholtz is Associate Veterinarian at Twin Lakes Animal Clinic in Madison, South Dakota.

Not only are our livestock suffering from this heat, our dogs are too. We have been seeing a lot of conditions that are more frequent in these hot summer months.

Hot spots

The medical name for hot spots is pyotraumatic dermatitis. “Pyo” means pus (which is infection). “Traumatic” means caused by some sort of injury. And “dermatitis” means skin irritation.

Lainie Kringen-Scholtz

Lainie Kringen-Scholtz

These occur when the skin gets wet, itchy, and inflamed. Bacteria then overgrows in the moist tissue which results in pus (white blood cells). The dried pus then further irritates the skin, makes the hair fall out, makes the dog itchy, and then painful.

Dogs who are swimming a lot, have allergies, dense hair coats, thick collars, or have a skin scrape can predispose them to getting hot spots. This is why it is very important to always pay close attention to your pets. Pet them daily and give them a thorough once-over to make sure that nothing has changed. Make sure to look under their collar and at their ears every day if they are predisposed to getting hot spots.

If you notice a hot spot starting to form, call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment. If you try to treat it at home or just let it go, it will worsen rapidly and become very large. At the clinic, we will clip, clean, and apply medications to the hot spot. If the hot spot is bad enough, it will require antibiotics and potentially even pain medications.

The next step is to make sure they are not licking or scratching at the hot spot so we most likely will send you with a cone to keep on your dog if the hot spot is around the neck or head.

Ear infections

We are seeing a ton of ear infections right now! Part of it is because dogs are swimming a lot more with this heat.

Sometimes we think that it is great to have a dog pool, but sometimes if they are in it too long or constantly getting their head wet, it can cause problems such as ear infections.

Also, dogs that have a lot of hair in their ear canals will hold extra moisture, especially if they are outdoors in the heat and humidity. Dogs with allergies also predispose them to ear infections.

The most common ear infections we see are either caused by bacteria, yeast, or both. It is important to allow your veterinarian to do a cytology and look to see what is actually causing the problem.

Next, the veterinarian will choose the appropriate antibiotic and anti-inflammatory for your dog’s ear infection. If you are cleaning your dog’s ears, make sure to use a product that is purchased at your vet clinic. Some products that are bought online or at pet stores are not drying and can further irritate the ear.

Environmental allergies

The number of itchy dogs that we see goes in spurts with the current allergens that are floating around in the air.

Dog environmental allergies do not manifest as runny noses and sneezing like people’s do. Instead, they manifest as itchy feet, belly, and face. They also usually come right alongside ear infections.

People sometimes try to give their dogs Benadryl thinking that the anti-histamine will help but in reality, it will not. Take your dog to your veterinarian as soon as you notice consistent licking/chewing at the feet, itching their belly, rubbing their face against surfaces, and itching at the ears.

It is important that your veterinarian do a thorough exam so that they can chose the appropriate treatment plan for your dog. Also, do not let your dog go without a flea and tick preventative purchased from your veterinarian as these will often help itchy dogs.


Pay close attention to your dogs in this heat! Don’t just put them in a kennel outside and throw some food and water at them as needed; you’re going to miss important clinical signs of the above diseases and miss out on spending quality time with your dog.

Dr. Lainie Kringen-Scholtz is associate veterinarian at Twin Lakes Animal Clinic in Madison, South Dakota. 

This vet report is provided in conjunction with Twin Lakes Animal Clinic and Howard Animal Clinic. Questions? Send an email to Lainie Scholtz, DVM at, call 605-256-0123, or write 45305 SD Highway 34 Madison, SD 57042.

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Tri-State Neighbor Columnist

Dr. Lainie Kringen-Scholtz is Associate Veterinarian at Twin Lakes Animal Clinic in Madison, South Dakota.

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