If your dog seems to be suffering from hot spots, there are a number of possible explanations. Firstly, it is important to correctly identify the skin condition. Hot spots on dogs skin are characterized by a warm, swollen, and painful patch of skin, 1-4 inches across. Hair can be lost very quickly around the affected area and, if bad, it may ooze pus and give off a foul odor. These circular patches appear quickly and can grow within a matter of hours. If you can, try to prevent your dog from licking or nibbling the tender area as this will help prevent the infection’s progress.
Hot spots on dogs skin can occur anywhere on the body – sometimes in more than one place. A commonly affected area is under the ears in dogs with a “floppy” ear or around the hind leg. Larger breeds such as Newfoundlands, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Retrievers are especially prone with their large, heavy ears and long coat. One can often help prevent hot spots by regular brushing throughout the year. This helps to pull the excess hair away from your dog’s skin, usually present before shedding. Also, in hot humid weather, make sure to always dry your dog thoroughly after bathing or swimming. Damp areas on your dog’s skin increase the likelihood of a hot spot developing due to buildup of superficial bacteria that can cause infection.
Another, slightly less common cause of hot spots on dogs skin, is food allergies. Some dogs are more sensitive to their diet than others and will get frequent hot spots – despite taking precautions. Foods with high amounts of filler such as corn, peanut shells, cottonseed hulls etc could be the culprit behind your pup’s pain and excessive itching. As ingredients are listed in order of amount present, look for a dog food that has quality animal proteins (venison, duck, beef) listed long before any fillers or corn meal. Within about 2 weeks you dog should become (and remain) hot spot free.
Should there be hot spots present on your dog’s skin, there is a way to treat them. Firstly, try to prevent your dog from scratching or licking the irritation (this will be difficult so keep an eye on them at all times). As hot spots on dogs skin are very painful, you will have to schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian. If the hot spot is bad, dogs will typically be sedated or anesthetized while the vet clips away any hair surrounding the infection. They will then cleanse the area with a medicated shampoo and allow for the patch to dry.
Following this, treatment is fairly simple. As the owner, you will be given an antibiotic steroid cream or powder which you’ll need to apply directly to the sore, twice a day for 10 to 14 days. Oral antibiotics are also sometimes prescribed and your dog may even be given an Elizabethan or BiteNot collar – an extremely fashionable accessory for any modern-day dog. Hot spots on dogs skin can be a scary ordeal but if the correct precautions are taken, the likelihood of one developing is minimal.