Canine Hot Spots

April 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Dog Health

What is a Hot Spot?

A hot spot is a localized area of skin inflammation and infection. The infection can be superficial or deep. Also called moist eczema, hot spots are the sudden appearance of wet, circular patches of infection on the skin that create intense itching and irritation.

What are the signs of a hot spot?

Redness, oozing, pain, and itchiness are hallmark signs. Hair loss is commonly present. Sometimes hair can mat over the lesion, obscuring the size and degree of the problem. These lesions can appear suddenly, and grow rapidly. You can see a small red spot in the morning, and it can grow to a large area just in a few hours. Your dog will sometimes act highly agitated due to the intense itchiness and overall soreness.

What causes a hot spot?

There are many reasons your dog can develop a hot spot including: fleas mites, tics, or other external parasites, an insect sting or bite, food allergies, tangled or matted hair, humidity, not drying a wet dog properly or injury (skin wound, scrape, etc.). Some animals have been known to “start” a hot spot out of boredom or stress-related psychological problems. Hot spots can spread very rapidly across the skin surface and beneath the fur, so they may be difficult to see.

What can I do to treat a hot spot?

The first thing to do is speak with your veterinarian. Hot spots spread quickly, I advise you start treatment with your vet immediately. Keep in mind hot spots can be very painful your dog may become hostile– caution is advised, use a muzzle if your dog starts to growl or show other signs of aggression.

You’ll want to shave the area. The vet will most likely do this for you. Exposing it to air will dry out the moisture and help speed healing. Then daily cleaning of the hot spot with sterile saline, NOT hydrogen peroxide, every two hours for the first day or two will speed up the healing. Hydrocortisone spray and benadryl tablets (1 tablet per 50 pounds; do the math for other weights) work well to stop the itching. Depending on the size and severity your vet may prescribe medications and/or a special shampoo for your dog.  Sometimes oral antibiotics and/or steroids are necessary to help these areas to heal. Keep in mind steroids work well for severe spots, but may cause side effects and can be harmful with long term usage. Also, if the steroid is stopped before the spot is completely gone, it may come back worse than before.

Prevent your dog from biting, licking, scratching by using an Elizabethan collar – your vet can provide you with one.
These skin lesions can take a week to dry and look like they are going to heal. The fur begins to grow back, sometimes a different color, within two weeks. Keep an eye on the area and make sure it continues to heal and doesn’t spread or get any worse.

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