My rescued cocker spaniel Angie, like all other dogs under my care, has a strict regular regiment of parasite treatments – both external and internal. Combined with regular grooming sessions, nutritious diet and preventative care against parasites, all the dogs’ fur is always clean, shiny and the skin is soft and clean. Yet, recently, Angie’s chin and neck turned bright red, with large wound-looking spots of moist irritation on the skin, almost oozing in some parts, which bothered her significantly. It was obviously very itchy as she kept scratching it constantly.
I was really surprised at such quick development of such large spots, which appeared almost overnight, certainly, in no more than two days. So, as I have heard it many times, my first hunch was: hot spot!
When I first heard this “diagnosis” a while back for my friend’s dog, I was puzzled. I associate hot spot with WiFi connections more so than with a nasty-looking wound on a dog. But after some research, I realised that hot spot is actually a very common condition and it is often misunderstood, even overlooked until it is very late.
What is a hot spot on a dog? According to American Kennel Association, “The scientific term for hot spots is acute moist dermatitis. While not serious, these hot, red, oozing lesions can arise in just a few hours, and hot spots can cause your dog a considerable amount of discomfort.”
Hot spots are most often self-induced by the excessive licking and scratching of the irritated sight on the animal’s body. Hot spot is not a diagnosis, and thus not contagious in itself, but rather a description of the skin condition and must be examined by a veterinary doctor to determine the underlying cause. However, if the underlying cause is found to be of parasitic or fungal nature, it may be contagious to other animals in your household.
If it is not diagnosed and treated immediately, the cycle of appearance of new hot spots caused by the animal’s self-damage will continue from the underlying problems.
The underlying problem of hot spots are many. According to perMD, it could flea allergy dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, food allergies, anal sac disease, ear or skin infections, insect bites, parasite infestations, irritations after grooming and many more.
If it is not diagnosed and treated immediately, the vicious cycle of hot spot self-damage continues. The dog keeps scratching and licking, the skin irritation grows and secondary bacterial or fungal infections can also set in rather quickly.
The immediate response to a sudden appearance of a hot spot should be shaving the area from the fur, washing it with a simple antiseptic solution and keeping it dry. As soon as this is done, you must see your vet, who will examine the affected area, take a series of tests to determine the cause, such as skin parasites infestation, fungal or bacterial infections, excessive yeast or insect bites. The next step is to ensure that your dog is comfortable, not in pain and itch-free. An Elizabethian collar maybe necessary to prevent the animal from scratching the already irritated area further. Depending on the diagnosis and the condition of the dog and the hot spot, your vet may decide to prescribe antihistamines, pain management regimen or/and cortico-steroids to control and calm the inflammation.
It is very important that the area infected with the hot spots remains consistently clean, hair free, and dry. Avoid letting your dog run onto water, have swimming sessions or stay out in the humid days for too long.
Prevention of hot spots is not difficult. Hygiene is very important. The dog must be groomed regularly. If your dog loves water and swims or gets to play with water daily, ensure that they do dry completely and their fur does not remain wet throughout the day and night. In Cambodia, dogs often suffer hot spots as a result of skin parasite infestation, such as demodex or sarcoptic mange. So, a strict schedule of external parasite prevention is at the basis of protecting your animal from annoyance of hot spots. Food allergies are another huge cause of hot spots in dogs in Cambodia – mostly due to a diet of excess starch. Try to ensure that your dog is not suffering from common skin yeast problems as a result of an inappropriate diet. Talk to your vet and pet nutritionist about an appropriate diet to eliminate food related allergies.
Finally, it is good to remember that certain breeds are more predisposed to developing hot spots. According to American Kennel Club “some breeds are more likely to develop hot spots than others, especially long-haired or thick-coated breeds like “Huskies, Golden Retrievers, St. Bernards, German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, and Rottweilers. Hot spots are also more likely to occur during the summer, especially during periods of hot weather and high relative humidity.”
The key in preventing hot spots from turning into large, painful lesions is early detection and quick action. So please, if you notice that your dog is scratching excessively, especially in one particular area, be sure to examine the area for any sign of irritation. If you find a lesion developing, see your vet immediately. Early intervention will always ensure quick, targeted diagnostics and resolution, which will keep your pet comfortable and you stress-free.
Animal Mama® Animal Clinic & Welfare Centre provides a wide range of services for animals & pets: vet care, boarding, daycare, pet food & supplies, hydrotherapy, grooming and doggy play dates.
Please visit us at:
Villa #15, Street 500
Toul Tom Pong, Phnom Penh 12311