By Katelyn Schutz, CPDT
Over these dog days of summer, it’s not uncommon to see a lot of skin problems crop up in our pets. No, hot spots are not wi-fi for Fido, but rather “pyo” (pus) “traumatic” (self-inflicted) “dermatitis” (inflammation of the skin). They are moist, pruritic lesions on the skin, often noted by their redness from inflammation and odor from infection. Common in warmer weather, hot spots can grow rapidly, sometimes in only hours, and are very painful and itchy to your pet. If you ever notice a hot spot on your dog, seeing your trusted veterinarian is a must!
I do not recommend at-home remedies for hot spots, as they can be incredibly painful for the dog, and you could risk injury to your pet and yourself. It’s best to let your vet determine the cause of the hot spot, and develop an appropriate treatment plan to eliminate it.
However, there are a few definite “don’ts” I will mention. First, never use hydrogen peroxide on a hot spot! OUCH! Not only is H2O2 irritating and distressing, it can damage tissue and delay healing. Also, it’s not advised to use over the counter anti-itch creams, like hydrocortisone lotions. Some can be toxic to pets if ingested. Not to mention, to heal properly, a hot spot needs to dry out, and creams can trap moisture and pus.
Thankfully however, there is much we can do as owners to help PREVENT hot spots from happening:
Good grooming! Long-haired and thick-coated breeds are more prone to hot spots, as they have dense fur to trap moisture close to the skin. If you have a breed like this, be proactive and keep up with regular grooming and brushing. Shorter hair and close grooms allow air to circulate close to the skin, keeping it drier. For this reason, I have my groomer trim my Springer Spaniel “extra short” during swimming season. Be sure to thoroughly dry your dog after swimming, bathing, getting caught in the rain, or anytime it gets wet to help prevent hot spots.
Feed a healthy, natural diet high in omega fatty acids! A well-balanced diet will help your pet maintain a healthy skin and coat. Perhaps select a fish-based food chalk full of essential fatty acids that promote skin health. When we first rescued my long-haired Chihuahua, he was anything BUT long-haired. He was practically bald and emaciated. We decided to put him on a high-quality, grain-free, sardine and salmon based food. He also got fish oil added to his food every morning. Before we knew it, he was the shiniest dog on the block with a flowing mane. Heal your pet’s skin from the inside out!
Relieve boredom and stress for your pet! Believe it or not, a dog can create a hot spot simply from excessively licking and chewing at itself. Keep your pet well exercised and mentally stimulated to prevent stress or boredom licking. Even if stress or boredom didn’t create your dog’s hot spot, keeping him or her entertained and tired will hopefully prevent your pup from focusing so much on the itchy hot spot to begin with. Win, win!
Use flea and tick control! Infestations on the skin can cause your dog to excessively chew and lick at it’s skin, creating the self-traumatic hot spot. Use medications or natural preventatives to ensure your pooch doesn’t pick up any unwanted “friends”.
I hope the tips on this “hot” topic hit the “spot” for you and your pet!