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Hot Spots in Dogs: Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

Hot Spots in Dogs

Hot spots, also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis, are one of the most common skin conditions in dogs. They are inflamed, red lesions that can appear anywhere on a dog's body, but are most commonly found on the head, legs, and hips. In more severe cases, these hot spots may also ooze pus.

Hot spots can appear and spread rapidly, particularly during the summer months. The heat and humidity can make your dog more prone to developing hot spots. Hence, it's important to regularly check your dog's skin, especially if they have a thick coat, as the lesions can sometimes be hidden beneath matted fur.

What causes hot spots in dogs?

Hot spots in dogs are primarily caused by self-trauma when a dog scratches an itch so vigorously that it results in an open wound. There can be multiple underlying causes for this intense itchiness, which leads to the development of hot spots. Here are a few reasons why your pooch may experience intense itchiness:

  • Allergies: 

    One such cause is allergies, including food allergies or inhalant allergies. These can result in significant itching, prompting the dog to scratch and potentially cause a hot spot. Similarly, reactions to insect bites from fleas, mites, or other insects can create the same response.

  • Infections: 

    Infections, such as ear infections or pyoderma (a skin infection caused by bacteria or yeast), can also lead to the formation of hot spots. These infections cause significant discomfort, leading to scratching and subsequent wound creation.

  • Atopic dermatitis: 

    Another cause is atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin disease associated with allergies. This condition makes a dog's skin itchy and inflamed, leading to scratching and the potential for hot spot development.

  • Warm weather: 

    Hot spots are 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. Certain breeds like Golden RetrieversSt. BernardsGerman ShepherdsLabrador Retrievers, and Rottweilers are more predisposed to developing hot spots due to their thicker coats in the summer.

Symptoms of hot spots in dogs

Hot spots can put your furry friend in extreme discomfort. Thus, take your furry friend to a vet if you see any of the following symptoms:

  • Constant chewing or licking the affected area
  • Inflammation, often found with redness and swelling
  • Dryness around hot spots
  • Loss of hair from the dog’s body
  • Matted or moist fur
  • An offensive odour from the lesion

In more advanced stages, hot spots can develop crusted scabs and may even ooze pus.

It's essential to note that many skin conditions display similar symptoms, including redness, swelling, and hair loss. This makes it imperative for dog parents to consult a veterinarian. They can accurately diagnose the condition and recommend appropriate treatment options, which may include a hot spot medicine for dogs.

Treatment of hot spots in dogs

The treatment of hot spots in dogs typically involves a multi-step process that aims to alleviate discomfort, treat the infection, and prevent further scratching or biting of the area. Here are the steps involved in treating this medical condition:

  1. Trimming or shaving the fur: 

    This is done around the lesion to prevent moisture from being trapped against the skin, as it needs to be dry to heal. This step also makes it easier to apply topical treatments.

  2. Cleaning the area: 

    The affected area is cleaned with warm water and a gentle antiseptic cleanser, such as chlorhexidine. This helps reduce the bacteria present on the lesions and promote healing.

  3. Applying medication:

    The vet may prescribe an ointment to alleviate itchiness. Since the lesions could worsen if your pooch continues to chew or lick the affected area, this step becomes an important one.

  4. Preventing further irritation: 

    A dog should be prevented from biting, licking, or scratching the hot spot. Exposure to air aids in healing, so bandages are typically avoided. Instead, an Elizabethan collar, or 'cone', may be used to prevent the dog from reaching the area.

  5. Monitoring the hot spot: 

    It's crucial to keep an eye on the hot spot. If it spreads or does not improve within a few days, a vet visit may be necessary for stronger medications or antibiotics.

Prevention of hot spots in dogs

Preventing hot spots in dogs is an essential part of maintaining their overall health. Good hygiene, routine grooming, and diligent treatment of skin infections play critical roles in avoiding these painful hot spots. If your dog enjoys swimming or is often bathed, ensure their coat is thoroughly dried each time to prevent conditions conducive to hot spots.

Another thing to consider is the importance of diet in the prevention of hot spots. Supplementing with fatty acids, found in fish oil, can help build a healthy skin barrier and have anti-inflammatory properties. Consult your vet for advice on supplements and correct dosage.

If your dog licks itself due to stress or boredom, increasing daily exercise and providing mentally stimulating toys may alleviate these symptoms, thereby helping to prevent hot spots.

Remember, hot spots in dogs symptoms can be distressing, but with the right care and attention, you can prevent them from recurring. Regular veterinary visits can also help you identify any skin conditions in time, allowing you to nip them in the bud.

Frequently asked questions

How can I treat my dogs hot spots?

The treatment of hot spots in dogs involves cleaning the affected area to kill bacteria. You must clip the fur around the area for easy application of topical medicines. Severe conditions of hot spots may also require oral antibiotics.

Will hotspots on dogs heal on their own?

How long do hot spots last on dogs?

What does a dog hot spot look like?

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