Have you ever curled up with your pup and a good book only to be distracted by your dog’s scratching? It’s natural for any animal to scratch a bit. What do you do when your dog’s scratching becomes obsessive?
Hot spots are a common source of constant scratching or licking. What causes hot spots in dogs? And what can you do to help your dog overcome them?
Common Reasons for Hot Spots in Dogs
Several things can cause hot spots in dogs. Hot spots are just areas of inflamed or infected skin. While there are acute causes for a hot spot, your dog licking or otherwise irritating the area can make the hot spot worse.
Take a look below at some of the most common reasons for hot spots in dogs.
Some people are allergic to dogs, but we don’t think of dogs as having allergies. It is the case for some dogs, however, that they do have allergies. A dog’s allergies can be either caused by the environment or by something they’ve consumed. If your dog has been commonly getting hot spots, you might start looking at their diet.
Mosquitoes might be a bother to use people on a warm summer day, but some pests bother your dog, as well. These pests include:
Pretty much any bug that can climb up on your dog and give them a bite or sting has the potential to irritate. This is reason enough to try and keep your backyard free of pests. Just remember that using harsh chemicals can affect your dog and your family as well.
Most dogs need grooming at least weekly. Grooming includes a proper brushing of their coat and their teeth. If a dog is not properly groomed, their fur can become tangled and matted. These areas can be the perfect spot for pests and bacteria to breed.
Pyoderma is a skin infection that is caused by bacteria or yeast. While pyoderma is not an actual cause of hot spots, the development of hot spots can be a secondary symptom.
If your dog is bored, stressed, or is feeling another severe emotion, they may cope by licking themselves. The excessive moisture on their skin can cause hot spots to develop.
Any amount of excess moisture can cause hot spots. Humidity is an excellent place for bacteria to grow. If you live in a wet climate or if your dog has been swimming more often, they may develop hotspots.
Treating Hot Spots in Dogs
For the most part, hot spots are mainly caused by excessive moisture. If you are trying to treat your dog’s hot spots, your first task will be to try and dry their hot spot out.
Using clippers of scissors, trim the area around your dog’s hot spot. They may not look great with a bald spot, but they are going to feel a lot of relief when you’re done. After you’ve trimmed the area, you’ll have to clean it off. There are many brands and products you can use to treat hotspots, but the suggested antiseptic is called chlorhexidine. This is the same chemical used by surgeons to clean up before surgery. It’s a product that’s safe even if the dog licks the area after you’ve cleaned it, though you should discourage this behavior.
After cleaning, you can use a clean, cool washcloth to help sooth the area. Cleaning helps reduce any swelling that has developed on your dog’s skin. Just remember that because hot spots are caused by moisture, you’ll want to use another dry cloth to pat the area dry.
Once the area is clean and dry, you can use a medication prescribed by your veterinarian. They will most likely want your dog to take an antibiotic to stop the growth of bacteria. They may also prescribe a steroid to decrease inflammation and itching. You may also try an over the counter medication. These are pet safe and can help inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Hot spots are very itchy for a dog, so they may be tempted to bite or scratch at the infected area. If this is the case, you can try using an Elizabethan collar to stop them from bothering the area.
Are Hot Spots Recurring?
The good news is that hot spots are not a recurring disease. Once your dog is done with a spell of hot spots, it doesn’t mean it’s going to come back. But hot spots will likely come back if you don’t get to the cause of why it happened in the first place.
You need to figure out why your dog hot spots. Were they bored and licking themselves? Did their coat matt-up and hold extra moisture? Is their diet making them extra itchy?
Whatever the underlying cause was needs to be rooted out. Otherwise, your pet is likely to develop hot spots again.
When to See a Vet
If you suspect your dog has hot spots, see your vet immediately. Because it is a bacterial infection, your dog will need help to kick it. An untreated case of hot spots can spread very quickly and cause significant problems for your dog’s skin. Bad examples of hot spots need to be dealt with using surgery. If you suspect your dog has hot spots, don’t delay.