Hot Spots on Dogs: Treatment and Prevention
Hot Spots are one of those less then desirable skin irritations seen in pets. Often, you'll here your vet refer to them as moist eczema, but you ... well, you can call them hot spots. They occur when your dog itches, scratches or licks him or herself excessively, eventually forming a wet scab on the fur. But what do you with a hot spot?
Hot Spots (also known as Summer Sores or Moist Eczema) can seemingly appear spontaneously anywhere on a dog's body; the surrounding area can rapidly deteriorate too. This moist, raw skin disorder has a variety of causes but the most consistent factor is bacteria.
Anything that irritates or breaks the skin can create the environment for bacterial contamination if the surface of the skin has but only a little a bit of moisture on it. Such incidences of moisture can be such seeminly innocuous things such as as a recent bath, swim, stroll in the rain, or playtime in wet craze. Even a slightly oozing sore can provide enough moisture and/or nutrient for a bacterial infection to take hold.
Although there are various types of "hot spot"-causing bacteria, most respond to oral and topical antibiotics. For some reason, cats rarely acquire hot spots.
How to Treat a Hot Spot
1. Trim the area around the hot spot with animal clippers. If the area is too big, shave it. Exposing it to air will dry out the moisture and help speed healing.
2. Clean the area with a mild water-based astringent or antiseptic spray, or specialized shampoo, and pat dry.
3. Apply hydrocortisone spray or hydrocortisone cream (with a veterinarian's prescription) to stop the itching and help promote healing.
4. Prevent your dog from biting, licking or scratching the hot spot affected area. Placing an Elizabethan collar (plastic cone) around your dog's neck, for example, can be an excellent tool to keep him/her from biting and licking at it.
5. Keep an eye on the area to make sure it continues to heal and doesn't worsen or spread. Hot spots often require a visit to the vet, who will likely prescribe topical medication usually in the form of a Gentamicin / Betamethasone spray, and possibly oral antibiotics. The vet may also give your dog a cortisone injection to jump start the healing process.
6. Daily cleaning of the hot spot, even every two hours for the first day or two, will speed up the healing. Also, any topical anti-bacterial ointment will arrest the growth of the bacteria. These skin lesions can take a week to finally dry and look like they are going to heal. Once they are no longer oozing, simply keeping the hot spot area clean will be all that's needed. The fur begins to grow back (sometimes a different color!) within two weeks.
Keep your dog well groomed, especially in hot seasons. Any dog that has matted, dirty hair coat is at greater risk of developing hot spots. Many owners will have their long or thick-furred dog shaved closely in the summer. You can do this yourself -- carefully, of course -- by using animal clippers, especially around the ears and where there is thick fur that doest dry quickly. This really does help prevent the thick coat from covering any dampness on the surface of the skin. If the fur is allowed to accumulate too much moisture, the wet skin underneath can become the perfect breeding ground for bacterial growth and hot spots.
And though they mostly occur in the summertime, hot spots can develop at any time. If your dog develop a skin lesion, call your veterinarian immediately. Do not delay! You may run the risk that your dog's condition deterioates quickly (see below).
Diet as a Factor
Many types of dermatological problems are avoided if your dog is on a well-balanced diet. In some cases, adding dietary supplements such omega fatty acids can help avoid repeated issues of hot spots and other skin afflictions. If your dog (or cat) seems to lack a healthy coat and/or skin, consider upgrading the diet to a meat-based ingredient formula. The first ingredient listed in on the pet food label should be a meat such as chicken, lamb, poultry, beef or fish; if it is corn...pass it up!
Source: Pet MD