What is a hot spot?

April 13, 2012

Even if the pet is not a show dog, an owner would still ensure that the healthy and attractive appearance of the pet is maintained. The appearance of the dog will be a reflection on the kind of care it receives from the owner. Hot spots therefore would be a concern of dog owners. More than the bad impression the dog owner will have from the dog loving community, hot spots will really be a big concern as the pain and the itch associated with these troublesome skin sores will make the pet very uncomfortable.

Pyotraumatic dermatitis is the medical term for the skin infection that is commonly known as hot spots, acute moist dermatitis or acral lick dermatitis. These circular patches of inflamed skin usually develop from self-inflected trauma arising from excessive chewing and scratching which is the dog’s attempt to alleviate severe itch and pain. Hot spots are skin infections commonly seen on the feet, legs, and rump and on body parts that are easily licked and chewed by the pet. Scratching is one of the natural habits of dogs thus hot spots can also develop on the ears, neck and chest. These surface infections can develop rapidly. The coin-sized reddened skin the owner would notice in the morning can grow into a palm-sized lesion in the afternoon. Pain, itchiness, oozing pus and hair loss on the reddened patch of skin are the common signs of hot spots. The weeping skin will have dried exudates and would be covered with matted hair. The dog will be smelly because of the oozing pus. The moist, inflamed and ulcerated patches on the surface of the skin can progress into deep, pus oozing infections.

Flea and lice bites will initiate a spate of scratching and chewing. Allergies, bacteria and fungi will cause topical skin irritations. The itchy skin can be due to essential fatty acid deficiency. All these factors would incite the dog to scratch excessively so that a hot spot will be started. Scratching and chewing can be behavioral in nature. The dog may be bored. Excessive scratching can be the dog’s way of attracting the human family’s attention. Any dog breed can have hot spots. This painful and itchy skin infection though is more prevalent in long haired breeds. Heavy coated dogs that are not regularly groomed are predisposed to developing hot spots. Tangles and mats will be formed if dead hairs are not removed with regular brushing. Hot spots will develop when dead hairs that are trapped next to the skin prevent moisture from escaping so that the fur will remain damp. Damp hair and skin will be ideal breeding grounds for bacteria. A small skin puncture or even an insect bite that is incessantly scratched and chewed by the dog will allow bacteria to attack. Hot spots are the common skin concerns of dogs living in humid environments.

Recognizing the symptoms and administering appropriate treatments will be very necessary as hot spots tend to grow rapidly. From one hot spot, others will be formed in other parts of the dog’s body. Moreover, dogs with this troublesome skin condition tend to be aggressive because of the pain and the itch. The good news is that hot spots can be easily treated. Topical and oral medications can be given to the dog. Before topical treatment is applied, it would be necessary to remove hair from the affected area so that the medication can properly treat the wound. The area must be thoroughly cleaned with antiseptic soap after which the topical medication can be applied. Hot spots tend to recur especially if the underlying reason for the itch and the pain was not resolved. Along with regular grooming, external parasite infestation that triggers the itch must be eradicated. It would also be a big help if the family would devote time to bond with the pet.

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