One common problem experienced by many dogs, particularly in warmer weather, it hot spots.
What are Hot Spots?
Otherwise known as superficial pyoderma or moist eczema, hot spots are irritations on the skin, anywhere on the dog’s body. When a dog itches, scratches, and licks an area excessively, it eventually forms a wet scab in the fur, which then encourages more licking and scratching, and a vicious cycle is born.
What Causes Hot Spots?
Anything that irritates the skin or causes it to break sets the environment for bacteria to flourish if there is any moisture present at all. A dog’s natural bacteria can overpopulate on moist parts of the skin. Anything as innocuous as a swim, bath, being out in the rain or having an oozing sore can allow a bacterial infection to settle. Hot spots are almost exclusive to dogs; cats very rarely experience the problem.
Common triggers can include mosquito or tick bites, flea bites, allergies, anxiety, and a thick or long coat. Having a swim then rolling on the ground can be all it takes to develop a hot spot, and they can come on very suddenly. Older dogs may lick and bite at a painful area (for example, from arthritis) and this can result in a hot spot.
What do Hot Spots look like?
When a hot spot is present, parting the fur will reveal a raw and weeping circular spot on the skin. There may be pus or even bleeding. Untreated, they will spread very quickly.
Most hot spots respond well to either topical or oral antibiotic treatment.
Tips for Treating Hot Spots
• Exposure to air will help dry the hot spot and speed up the healing process.
• Trim the fur around the hot spot with animal clippers, or if large, shave it, carefully avoiding the hot spot.
• Clean and disinfect the area with a mild antiseptic spray every day (consult your vet regarding what to use); more often while it is weeping or pus is present.
• Vet-prescribed hydrocortisone cream or spray will help alleviate itching
• Have your dog wear an E-collar (“Cone of Shame”) to prevent him from biting and licking at the spot to further irritate it.
• Observe the spot to make sure it continues to heal and does not spread or deepen.
• Try to identify the cause
Once treatment is initiated, it can take a week or more for the hot spot to dry and begin healing; fur will usually begin to grow back within a fortnight of commencement of healing.
Untreated, hot spots can cause severe infection, and even ulceration and scarring in the worst cases, as the infection extends deep into the skin.
Hot Spot Prevention
• Pay attention to dog grooming; long or thick furred dogs should be trimmed for spring and summer
• Feed a well balanced meat-based diet
• Omega fatty acid supplements can be helpful
• Regularly go over your dog with a flea comb and check for ticks. Treat regularly to prevent infestations with these pests.
• Check for hot spots frequently . Pay particular attention to the area under the ears and on the sides of the face
At the very first sign of a hot spot (or multiple hot spots), begin treatment and take Rover to the vet.
**IMAGES COURTESY OF PETMD