Hot spots are very common skin conditions in dogs, and this happens particularly in the summer months. They are painful, oozing sores appearing seemingly out of nowhere and they have the tendency of spreading rapidly. Hot spots on your dog’s skin are frustrating to deal with. You can prevent them and also treat them when you do proper management.
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What Are Hot Spots?
They are also known as acute moist dermatitis which are localized areas of skin inflammation and bacterial infection. Often, a hot spot will start as a small red area that owners may mistake for an insect bite. Unlike an insect bite, a hot spot will rapidly worsen and spread, developing into a hot, red, oozing, and painful lesion.
What are the Causes?
Hot spots become more profound by scratching, licking, or chewing the affected area. The resulting trauma to the skin causes inflammation and secondary bacterial infections. Unfortunately, this self-trauma only makes the area to be more itchy, which causes a self-perpetuating cycle of itching and scratching. Thus, any condition that causes your dog to feel itchy has the potential to result in a hot spot. Common causes of the itching/scratching cycle in dogs include:
- Flea allergy dermatitis
- Food allergies
- Atopic dermatitis
- Ear or skin infections
- Anal sac disease
- Contact irritants
- Stress or boredom resulting in excessive licking
- A coat that is dirty or matted
- Moisture trapped in the coat from swimming or bathing
- Many of these conditions are chronic problems and are capable of causing recurring hot spots if they are not appropriately managed.
- Identifying and addressing the underlying cause for your dog’s hot spot is one of the most important factors in preventing future skin problems.
Hot spots are common among some breeds such as Golden Retrievers, St. Bernards, German Shepherds, Labradors, and Rottweilers due to their thicker coats. Hot spots are also more likely to occur during warm weather and periods of high humidity. Dogs that are frequently wet from swimming, bathing, or inclement weather are more prone to developing hot spots due to the excess moisture held against the skin by their coats.
What are the Symptoms?
Many skin conditions have similar symptoms, so it is important to consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog. Hot spots in dogs are characterized by areas of redness, swelling, and hair loss. They can occur anywhere but are most commonly seen on the head, limbs, and hips. The affected area is moist and may discharge pus or fluid, which can lead to crusting and matting of the surrounding hair. Hot spots are painful and very itchy, and will rapidly grow as the dog’s scratching continues to traumatize the area.
Treatment for Hot Spots
If you suspect your dog may have a hot spot, the first step is a visit to your veterinarian. While it may be tempting to wait for the hot spot to resolve on its own, delaying treatment will only make the problem worse. In order to treat the hot spot effectively and prevent it from recurring, your veterinarian will need to determine the underlying cause. They perform a full physical examination on your dog and recommend additional testing such as a skin scrape to look for parasites. Your veterinarian will prescribe appropriate treatment once he is able to diagnose the underlying cause of your dog’s itching.
Treatment of hot spots typically involves some combination of the following:
- Clipping the hair around the area to prevent matting.
- Cleaning the affected area with gentle antiseptic solutions such as chlorhexidine.
- Prescribing topical or oral antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections.
- Prescribing topical or oral steroids to control inflammation and decrease itching.
- Using medicated wipes or solutions to gently clean the area daily. Check out this is for best shampoo.
- Applying an Elizabethan collar (e-collar or “cone”) to prevent continued scratching.
Fortunately, once your veterinarian has initiated treatment for the hot spot, most dogs improve rapidly. In many cases, the hot spot resolves in as little as 3–7 days after the start of treatment.
Preventing Hot Spots
The best way to prevent additional hot spots from occurring is to identify and address the underlying cause of your dog’s itching. Good parasite prevention, treatment of skin infections, and management of allergies are essential to stop scratching and prevent trauma to the skin. Good hygiene and routine grooming can also help.it is also important to ensure that you dry the coats of dogs that swim or bathe frequently after these activities.
If your dog is licking due to stress or boredom, increasing daily exercise and active playtime can alleviate this problem. Using environmental enrichment such as puzzle toys or slow feeders is a great way to keep dogs mentally stimulated. Your dog will love the additional activity and will be healthier too.
Supplementing fatty acids is another option to prevent and manage skin disease. Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. These fatty acids not only have anti-inflammatory properties, but also help promote a healthy skin barrier, making your dog less susceptible to allergens and infection. Topical aloe vera may also help soothe damaged skin and decrease itching, but it is important to ensure your dog does not ingest the aloe, which can result in vomiting and diarrhea.
Hot spots are an itchy and painful problem for your dog. They are usually a recurring issue if the underlying condition is not addressed. Fortunately, with good management, your dog’s hot spot will resolve quickly and will not result in any permanent damage.
For your dog’s health, it is important to address skin issues both topically and internally. NaturVet Aller-911 Allergy Aid Soft Chews provide a source of natural antioxidants to support a healthy immune system, while the synergistic blend of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA help maintain proper skin moisture and respiratory health. When hot spots do occur, NaturVet Aller-911 Hot Spot Foam with Aloe Vera quickly helps soothe itchy, irritated skin on contact and the added bittering agent stops self-trauma by deterring licking and chewing. With these tools, your dog’s hot spots will hopefully heal off completely.