At this time of year dogs with ‘hot spots’ (or acute moist dermatitis) are very common. You can go to work in the morning, and you return to your dog who has a stinky, weeping, red, SORE, skin lesion that is terribly itchy. What happened?
Anything that starts an itching cycle can develop into a hot spot, think about a flea bite, a bee sting, a spider bite, or a tick bite. Also, ear infections, food allergies, and anal gland inflammation can be triggers. In the summer heat, humidity, moisture (swimming dogs), and thick fur can all be contributors to the development of hot spots. The dog breeds that most commonly develop hot spots include golden retrievers, German shepherds, Labrador retrievers and Saint Bernards.
So what to do? If you discover a hot spot early enough clipping the hair and bathing the area with tepid soapy water may be enough, but typically veterinary help is required. Often these hot spots are large, painful and in sensitive areas (under ear flaps, under tails, armpits, in neck skin folds) and dogs need to be sedated to allow proper clipping and cleaning of the areas. Owners are often surprised to see how large the hot spots are once all the hair is clipped from around the wound.
Once the area has been clipped, and cleaned medications are typically sent home to reduce pain and inflammation. Antibiotics may also be needed to eliminate any concurrent skin infection. Tepid soapy water bathing at home is comforting and helpful to keep the affected skin free of crusting serous exudate.
If you think your dog may be developing a hot spot, act quickly. Waiting until tomorrow to see if it gets better on its own will only allow the hot spot to get bigger and be that much more uncomfortable for your poor pooch!
Written By: Dr. Chris MacDonald, DVM