You arrive at home one evening to find your dog acting distressed.  Your dog bites at the base of his tail so vigorously, you fear he will hurt himself.  You examine the area and see a red, circle.  At this point, many people have called the Healing Springs vet on call reporting that their dog has been shot.  What the dog actually has is a pyotraumatic dermatitis, commonly known as a hot spot.

The Problem: Hot spots are common skin infections.  They result when bacteria normally on a dog’s skin overwhelms the dog’s normal resistance.  Hot spots occur quickly.  They can flare up in a period from six hours to two days.  The earliest sign that your dog might have a hot spot is moist hair standing up in an isolated area.  Most people notice hot spots when they become circular, red spots that lose hair.  They can be swollen and ooze a smelly pus.  Hot spots are painful and itchy.  They typically occur at the base of the tail, on the flanks, on the legs, or on the paws.  Some dogs will scratch, lick, or bite to the point of self-mutilation.

Causes: Hot Spots are most likely to occur during hot weather.  Dogs with heavy coats have the highest risk for developing hot spots, but any dog can develop this infection.  A common cause for hot spots is when the undercoat sheds but becomes trapped next to the skin.  Fleas serve as another common cause.  Their bites can create tiny wounds that make fertile breeding grounds for the problematic bacteria.

Veterinary Treatment: When you discover a hot spot on your pet, make an appointment at Healing Springs Animal Hospital soon.  An emergency call, however, is not entirely necessary.  Typical treatment will involve trimming the hair around the lesion, washing the area with alcohol and a disinfectant,  and sending the owner home with antibiotics and a medicated topical spray.

Prevention: Dog owners have two excellent ways to prevent hot spots.  Regular grooming works out tangles and mats to keep the skin breathing and healthy.  Avoid bathing your dog while tangles and mats are present.  Comb or clip those out first.  Dogs with a history of hot spots or who are prone to having long, tangled hair might need to be combed twice weekly.  If you do not have the time for a regular grooming schedule or just want the professional touch, Healing Springs offers professional grooming services.  Consider having your dog groomed every four to six weeks.

Another excellent way to prevent hot spots is good flea control.  Healing Springs recommends Frontline®.  Frontline is a medicine applied to the base of the dog’s neck.  Unlike a flea collar, Frontline protects every inch of the dog by traveling through the fat cells.  Frontline is a neurotoxin that kills fleas just for touching your dog – BEFORE they even bite you dog.  Frontline® can be purchased at Healing Springs.

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