Many dog owners have heard of or have experienced hot spots on their pet. Here we take a look at what a hot spot is, what causes it, and how to treat hot spots.
A hot spot is a moist skin rash, and is usually quite itchy. Also known as acute moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis, they generally occur around the head, neck, cheeks, rump and occasionally on the trunk of the body. Dogs of any age or breed can develop hot spots, but certain breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Rottweilers and Thick Coated Breeds are more prone to developing hot spots.
Hot spots start with an itch and a simple scratch.
Constant scratching by the dog leads to raw damaged skin, which then oozes serum which causes matting of the hair. This disrupted skin surface promotes bacterial growth, which can make the hot spot even itchier. This results in more scratching and creates a destructive itch-scratch cycle where the hot spot continues to get worse.
Usually a hot spot is triggered by an underlying cause of itchiness. Some common causes are: flea infestation, ear infections, allergies (particularly food and inhalant allergies), and some underlying medical conditions. Warm humid weather also predisposes to the development of the hot spot
But it can also be as simple as running through the garden and getting scratched or having a good-old scruff on the carpet for the couch and getting a sore rubbed section of skin.
Hot spots are diagnosed by your vet based on their distinctive appearance and your dog’s symptoms. They are moist lesions with a slimy discharge and matted hair on the surface, and reported to be very itchy. Severe hot spots can develop a thick plaque-like appearance associated with a deep bacterial infection. Hot spots are usually quick to develop and can progress within a matter of hours – therefore early treatment is required as soon as they are noticed.
Treatment starts with clipping away the matted hair over the hot spot. This reveals the extent of the lesion and will allow the area to dry out. Cleaning with warm salty water and a mild antiseptic then aids in removing the discharge and surface bacteria. It is encouraged to remove any scabbing that may have built up. A topical antibiotic/anti-inflammatory cream is then applied to clean and soothe the lesion ensuring the ointment is rubbed into the skin until it is dry. This will ensure the ointment has penetrated into the skin.
If the hot spot refuses to lessen in severity or increases in size, or possibly occur somewhere else on the body of the dog. A consult with your local vet to consider Systemic antibiotics which are often prescribed in order to best resolve infection within the deeper layers of the skin. Cortisone, a steroidal anti-inflammatory, is often prescribed to reduce the itchiness of the hot spot and break the itch-scratch cycle, giving the lesion a chance to heal
The 'Best Course of Action' is to act as soon as possible with early treatment - as this generally solves and soothes the hot spot problem quickly.