This month we wanted to follow up our “itchy dog blog” by talking about “hot spots.” A hot spot is a flare up of the skin. It is a reaction to your dog’s constant licking and chewing an itchy part of the body. Hot spots can vary in appearance and severity, but they generally appear as a rash with thinning fur. In bad cases there can even be open sores. No matter the size, the sooner they are treated, the better.
The first way to treat a hot spot is to try to identify the cause: flea bites, allergies or a reaction to boredom or stress. The most common cause for these flare ups are allergic reactions to flea bites. Even if your pet is on flea prevention, it does not stop the flea from biting. The medication just kills them after they bite. For a pet with a flea allergy, one bite is enough to start a reaction.
Stress and boredom would most likely be the cause if your pup is just constantly licking or chewing a certain part of their body. Spots to watch are the inside of the thighs or the bottom of the paws. If you notice hot spots developing and you know your dog spends a lot of time unsupervised or indoors, consider adding new activities and routines to alleviate boredom.
Regular grooming is very helpful in preventing, identifying and treating hot spots. Heather and Amy are experienced in recognizing problem areas and are equipped to help you treat them. General flare ups are treated with a medicated shampoo. Open sores require a more detailed effort. After the bath, we shave the spot to the skin in order to get air flow to the wound. Then we clean the wound with an antiseptic cleaner and finally apply an antibiotic ointment. If your pet needs additional itch relief, you can find a hydrocortisone spray from your local pet store.
Once home you should prevent your pup from licking or chewing any further. Add new activities to their routine and monitor their behavior to ensure they don’t continue to lick the hot spot. As a last resort, use a pet cone until the hot spot heals.
If any of the above treatments did not alleviate or relieve your pet’s hot spot, a trip to the vet is definitely in order. The hot spots might be a symptom of a bigger issue with your pet’s health.