Warning: This post contains images of Kitsune's hot spots. If images of dog wounds/blood bother you you should skip this post.
Anyone who's been a Paw Print reader for any length of time, especially recently, probably already knows that I'm not a huge fan of the hot weather. Personally I'd rather be cold than hot, and my pets, for the most part, seem to tolerate the colder weather better than the heat as well. While I've written recently about how we're not crazy about the heat, I don't think I've ever written in depth about the true bane of our summers - Kitsune's summer time itchies and his resulting hot spots.
Poor Kitsune, since he was a puppy, has had to deal with allergies. Early on we discovered that he has very bad food allergies. He can't eat any type of poultry, chicken especially, or eggs. Doing so makes him pretty miserable - in the past he's experienced the symptoms of anaphylaxis including GI issues (vomiting and diarrhea), hives, and swelling. I'll never forget when he was a puppy, before we knew about his allergies, I fed him a piece of raw chicken. Shortly after I ended up running (literally running with him in my arms) to the nearest vet because he was covered in hives, violently throwing up, and his face/throat were starting to swell.
As series as they can be, Kit's food allergies are easy to manage. We're extra careful to make sure he never eats anything that he's allergic too. Unfortunately, in addition to his food allergies, he's also allergic to fleas and has environmental allergies to a few types of pollens/grasses.
I've mentioned here before that when it comes to things like flea and tick preventative I tend to prefer more natural options. I don't like the idea of putting what is essentially a chemical pesticide on my dogs every month. But when it comes to Kit, I can't mess around. For an average dog a couple of flea bites wouldn't be a huge deal. For Kit a single flea bite turns into this...
Kit has flea allergy dermatitis, which basically means that he's allergic to fleas. If he gets bitten by one, he pretty much goes insane scratching and biting himself bloody. He becomes very restless, constantly wanting to bite and scratch at himself, develops hot spots, and his fur sometimes falls out. Here's a picture of another spot that we think started as a simple flea bite. This one isn't as fresh as the one in the picture above, and has had some time to heal, but as you can see his skin doesn't look great and he's lost a patch of fur...
The frustrating thing is those flea bites were caused by fleas (or flea, I only ever found one on him) that he got despite the fact that he's on a topical flea preventative.
That spot on his neck got especially bad because he kept scratching at it with his back paws. Every time it would start to heal up he'd scratch it open all over again. The vet shaved the spot to allow for better air flow, and so we could put a topical medication on it without getting it all over his fur. We also had him on an oral antihistamine to help him feel less itchie and poor Kit had to sport the cone of shame for a couple of days.
Hot spots are so frustrating. I try so hard to prevent them in the first place, but it seems like every summer Kit still gets them. What's even more frustrating, is in addition to his skin issues Kit's environmental allergies in the summer cause additional symptoms like itchie ears, runny eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose. I feel for him, because I suffer from seasonal allergies too, so I know first hand how miserable they can make you feel.
Basically, Kit is a high maintenance dog in the summertime. He gets weekly baths to sooth his skin and to clean off any allergens that may have gotten onto his fur. I brush through his fur with a flea comb at least once every other day, and make sure to stay on top of his flea preventative. He gets high quality home prepared food and I supplement his diet with fish oil for his skin and fur. I also supplement with probiodics and quercetin with bromelain. When his symptoms get bad, especially when/if he develops hot spots, he requires treatment that is usually a combination of topical and oral meds from the vet. Sometimes we have to resort to putting booties or a cone on him to prevent him from hurting himself.
In addition to all that, I also make sure to keep our house as clean as possible. I vacuum the floors daily to eliminate allergens and to ensure that fleas don't have anywhere to hide out. All our bedding gets washed frequently and furniture gets vacuumed/cleaned at least once a week.
I don't mind doing any of that stuff. I'm happy to do what it takes to keep Kit as comfortable as possible, and I enjoy having a clean house anyways. It does get frustrating, however, that even after all that Kit's allergies still occasionally get bad. He still sometimes develops skin issues and hot spots, as you can see from the pictures above which I took just last week.
Summertime with an allergy ridden pup can be tough. At least in the colder months we don't have to worry about fleas and pollen. That leaves us just having to deal with Kit's food allergies year round, which are the most serious but also the easiest to manage of all his allergies.
Do you have a pet that suffers from allergies? Do you have to deal with it more during a certain time of the year? What are some things you've found that help keep your pet more comfortable? Comment below!