Easy Steps to Treat Hot Spots on Dogs
Hot spots (otherwise known as acute moist dermatitis) is a skin common condition which affects a dog’s skin and coat. The condition is most common during the summer and in warm climates which is why it’s frequently referred to as hot spots. It can vary in severity and is often exacerbated by the dog’s own behavior as they lick, bite and scratch the affected area. While it is a particularly unpleasant condition, it can be cured effectively and quickly using prescribed medication. If your poorly pup has been affected by this condition or if you simply want to know more about it, this article should give you everything you need to know. We’ll cover what causes hot spots on dogs, what the symptoms are and how to treat this unfortunate condition. We’ll also look at preventative measures you can take to reduce your dog’s chances of developing this condition.
What is a Hot Spot on a Dog?
We already know that hot spots are a type of skin condition but we need to look at what the symptoms are, how these might appear and what to look out for.
Put simply, a hot spot is an area of the skin which becomes red, inflamed and broken which often leads to weeping (moisture) or bleeding. The area is usually itchy and sore which causes the dog to scratch, bite or lick it, which then makes the condition far worse. In some cases, the affected area or the moisture around it can become smelly, further indicating that it is infected. If left untreated, hot spots can spread rapidly across the body and the infection can deteriorate making the symptoms worse.
Unfortunately there isn’t any particular cause of hot spots on dogs to watch out for. As stated, they typically appear when a dog licks, bites or scratches an area of skin repeatedly. This is usually because of itchy skin, fleas, insect bites, cuts, grazes or an allergic reaction. If you notice your dog scratching or chewing an area of its body, try to distract them with toys, exercise or play in case that helps. If they persistently irritate the area then you’ll need to inform them vet and seek a course of action. Although hot spots can appear at any time of the year, it’s worth noting that they become increasingly common during the summer or in warm climates. This is primarily due to overheating and sweating which can increase the chances of itching and irritation.
Treating Hot Spots
Dog hot spot treatment can vary from animal to animal and depends on several factors. The dog’s size, age, weight, existing medical conditions and the severity of the moist dermatitis can all affect the treatment methods. Although some puppy parents attempt to treat the condition themselves, this should only be done following the vet’s recommendation and carefully adhering to their instructions. If treated poorly, there is a risk of damaging the skin causing the condition to deteriorate further. For this reason, it’s crucial to follow the vet’s instructions carefully when treating hot spots.
- Preparing the Area
Before attempting to treat hot spots, the hair around the affected area will first need to be trimmed using doggy hair clippers. For larger, fluffier dogs, shaving might be easier than using clippers. Whether you or the vet are carrying out the treatment, special care must be taken when trimming around the dog’s eyes and ears as these are sensitive areas. Trimming the dog’s coat is essential for a couple of reasons. Firstly, by clipping the hair you’ll expose the skin underneath which will allow you to see how much the condition has deteriorated. Furthermore, this allows air to reach the skin which assists in drying out the moisture which is weeping form the affected area and improves recovery speed.
- Cleaning and Treatment
The area will need to be cleaned first before treatment can be administered. A specialized shampoo or water-based antiseptic or astringent spray should be used. After applying, the area should be gently patted dry using a clean cloth. Extra care should be taken at this stage as the area will be incredibly sensitive. You might need a helper to gently hold your pup in place while you dab the area dry. When the area has been carefully dried, a hydrocortisone cream or spray should be applied to stop the itching. At this point, the vet might prescribe a course of antibiotics or steroids in pill form to treat the infection and to prevent further itching. However, in most cases a steroid cream such as hydrocortisone is suitable.
Dog hot spot healing time can vary depending on several factors such as the dog’s age, weight, size and the severity of the condition. Treatment could last from a week to a month, during which time the cleaning and treatment methods will need to be repeated as often as necessary. To assist during the recovery process, the vet might prescribe a plastic cone (or Elizabethan cone as they’re sometimes called) to stop you pup from biting, chewing, scratching or licking the affected area. Although these cones aren’t the most comfortable things for a dog to wear, they are extremely effective in most cases and greatly reduce recovery time. However, the traditional plastic cone can cause some problems and, in this scenario, alternatives may be necessary. This is because some dogs refuse to eat, drink or carry out other regular daily activities while wearing the hard-plastic cone. Instead, soft-plastic or inflatable cones or a neck collar can be used. Each of these alternatives use a softer and more cushioned plastic alternative to the traditional cone and are subsequently more comfortable. If you know your dog reacts badly to hard plastic cones from experience or if you quickly learn that your dog’s behavior is affected by it, it might be worth trying a softer alternative.
The creams, sprays and other forms of medication mentioned in this article are usually prescribed by the vet at their own discretion. This is because some poorly pups will react better to creams while others may react better to pills. During an appointment, your vet may ask some questions and do some tests to determine the best course of treatment for your specific dog. Like any condition, the keys to successful treatment and recovery are consistently using the prescribed treatments and having patience. While some treatments might only last a few days, others may last much longer so patience will be necessary. If you follow the treatment method carefully and consistently, you’re pup should be back to its normal, energetic self fairly soon.
Although there are no specific triggers for hot spots, there are a few things you can try which might prevent hot spots appearing on your precious pooch. If your pup is exposed to warm weather then you should ensure they can cool down after this exposure. This is particularly important if the dog is exercising in high temperatures as they are at greater risk form sweating and overheating. Keeping your dog cool should prevent itchy skin which is one of the main causes of this condition. If you need to exercise your dog in warm weather, be sure to cool them down in the shade using a cooling mat, cold treats and drinking water. Some puppy parents choose to shower their pup with water to help them cool down. While this can be useful, be careful not to completely soak your dog and avoid cold water as this can exacerbate the effects of overheating. Instead, gently splash room-temperature water over your dog to keep them cool.
Another method of minimizing the risk of hot spots is to use flea treatment for your pup. Since fleas are one of the top causes of itchy skin, by treating them you’ll subsequently help to prevent hot spots. It’s no surprise then, that looking after your dog’s coat is the most effective way of preventing this condition. Ensuring your pup’s coat is clean, tidy, and isn’t matted is essential for diminishing the chance of itchy skin, particularly in warmer climates.
Having hot spots is an awful and irritating skin condition which can affect any dog. But now you know that through careful grooming and taking some preventative measures you can significantly reduce your dog’s risk from developing the condition. However, if your dog unfortunately develops the condition, you now have an idea of what to expect and what the treatment might be like. As with any condition, noticing the symptoms early, informing your vet and adhering to their treatment method will greatly improve the speed and effectiveness of your pup’s recovery.