Doggy Hot Spots

When you hear the term “doggy hot spots” we are not talking night clubs for dogs.  Hot spots are areas of the skin that a dog has scratched and licked to the point of irritation. They are also known as acute moist dermatitis. They can be superficial or deep.  Those that are deep are often infected by a bacterium known as staphylococcus intermedius. The hot spot can be from 1-4 inches across and looks swollen. Deep hot spots may secrete pus. Hot spots can occur anywhere on the body and may be in one or more places such as ears or legs.  They tend to happen in the warmer summer months.

Although the exact cause is unknown, a single flea or tick bite may be the culprit. Mites, parasites, skin allergies and diseases can also create hot spots.  They often appear in dogs with heavy coats, such as Golden Retrievers. In these breeds, the irritated area appears just before shedding when moist, dead hair may be matted next to the dog’s skin.  Dogs will itch and scratch and lick the area to the point of bleeding and can cause infection.  The hot spot is very painful to your dog and he is just doing what he can to relieve the pain.

It is best to take your dog to the vet to determine if the hot spot is superficial or deep. Superficial hot spots can be treated by cutting back the hair around the irritated area and using medicated shampoo. A topical treatment may also be recommended. For the deep variety of hot spot, your vet will use a Betadine type of shampoo and you will be given antibiotic cream or powder to apply for about two weeks.  Oral antibiotics may also be prescribed or a one-time corticosteroid injection to relieve the pain and itch.  An Elizabethan collar will sometimes be used to help prevent your dog from going after the treated area.

It is important to keep the irritated area dry. If you take your dog for a swim, you must dry their coat thoroughly to avoid development of a hot spot. Prevention is the best medicine!

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