I can tell Late Summer is here by the state of my hat (sweat-stained and a bit battered!) and the outbreak of Damp Heat. I don’t just mean we are hot and sweaty, I am referring to the Chinese internal climate of Damp Heat, which leads to fungal infections, digestive problems and some types of itchy skin.

I am seeing dogs with black, gunky ears, that itch, wet excema and all sorts of squishy eruptions, known variously as mud-rash, hot-spots, rain-scald or summer itch. Whatever we or our veterinarians call them, these conditions are all the result of more heat than the body can successfully rid itself of, caught in a sluggish digestive system. Damp Heat can also lead to swollen joints and the flare up of old injuries or chronic conditions.

Here in the hot, humid Mediterranean coastal plain, I see a lot of horses with itchy skin or sweet itch. Many of those have a small relapse at this time of year. I recommend daily showers (but without shampoo which removes much-needed natural oils) and the application of clay-based lotions for topical relief.

In general, for chronic conditions that tend to recur in late summer or any fungal infection, offer essential oils that are cooling and drying, such as: Myrrh (Commiphora Myrrha), lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), lavender (lavandula officinalis); or simply cooling, such as Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) or drying such as Sweet Fennel.

Any oil that is said to be anti-fungal is probably cooling, and many anti-inflammatory oils that do not increase circulation, such as Yarrow (achillea millefolium) or German Chamomile (Matricariarecutita). White clay is popular with animals who suffer heat-related digestive problems, such as diarrhoea.

Base oils that are useful are calendula for itching or general heat, or neem oil, for joint pain and itching (especially those who are bothered by flies or fleas) but dilute this to 5% maximum in sunflower oil before using it (one whiff and you’ll understand why!)

It is also important to cut out all heating or sweet food. Dogs with a tendency to Damp Heat should never be fed grain, soy or even rice. Horses should not be fed molasses, barley or any other sweet food, keep grain to a minimum and moisten hay if horses are not on green pasture.

With a little support our animals can come through this season in good health and ready for the dry days of Autumn, meanwhile keep cool and enjoy the time of assimilation and review that comes with Harvest Home.