Hot spots are an irritating skin condition that affects countless dogs every year
What are hot spots on dogs and how can we detect them?
A hotspot (also known as pyotramatic or moist dermatitis) is a condition which involves an area of skin which has become inflamed and infected. The affected skin often appears as a moist, oozing, reddened area that is painful and very itchy to the dog. Hair loss may also be seen. Continued licking and chewing at the area by the dog worsens the condition dramatically.
What causes hot spots and can they be prevented?
Anything that causes itchiness of the skin can lead to the development of hot spots on dogs. Some common triggers are allergies to things in the environment such as grasses, trees, weeds, dust mites, etc, food allergies, fleas, mites, insect bites and skin wounds. A bacterial infection of the skin (typically caused by staph) develops by taking advantage of the damaged inflamed skin. The infection is often deep in the dog’s skin and, in addition to the moist oozing appearance, an odor is often present.
How are hot spots treated?
The goal to treatment is to clear the bacterial infection, relieve the itching and pain, and identify and remove the underlying triggers if possible. The hair in and around the dog’s hot spot is usually clipped to allow initial cleaning of the area and the application of topical medications. Topical treatment with sprays, creams or ointments to kill bacteria and help with pain and inflammation are often used. Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed for a course of three to four weeks and sometimes longer. Often a short course of corticosteroids (i.e. prednisone) is given to relieve the itching and pain due to the inflammation. Antihistamines may also be used to help with itchiness.
Would vetericyn be helpful in the treatment of hot spots on dogs?
Yes. Vetericyn liquid or hydrogel can be applied topically to kill bacteria and help cleanse the wound and speed healing without depleting vital moisture from the skin. It has the additional benefits of being non-irritating, non-toxic and non-staining to your dog’s skin or dog’s haircoat.
What can I do to treat a hot spot?
Here are some steps to take at home. Caution is advised: hot spots are often very painful. Use a muzzle if need be, for your protection.
- Shave the area. The first treatment for hot spots is to dry them out and get air to the area. Hair loss is a feature of hot spots, but hair can also mat over the inflamed area, covering up a potentially much more severe and large problem.
- Cleanse the area with cool water and a gentle skin cleanser.
- Cool compress the area 2-4 times a day with a cool wet washcloth.
- Medications – Depending on the severity and size of the hot spot, your veterinarian may prescribe oral antibiotics, topical drying sprays or medications, and/or special shampoos.
- Prevention of licking, biting, scratching -i.e. a cone around the neck
- Additional home remedies that can be used until you can see your vet:
- Topical Sprays I like Vetericyn because it promotes quick healing, does not sting, and is completely safe if ingested (if the animal can lick the area).
- tea bag compresses (black or green tea) to help dry the area out. Tea can be used as a wash or as a compress.
- Domeboro’s (Burow’s) solution (aluminum acetate) – available over-the-counter at pharmacies to help dry the skin out. Can be used as a compress or as a spray.
- Hydrocortisone creams – Some people advocate using a thin film of an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. I would recommend talking to your vet first. In general, creams and ointments only serve to “gunk up” the area and prevent proper drying if used incorrectly. Also, if the pet licks it, you want to make sure that it isn’t toxic.