K9 Corner: Exactly what are ‘hot spots’ on a dog?

BY HELEN PALMER

Last week I was asked what I thought about the reader’s dog having sores on the legs, was it “hot spot?” 

However, since the large, heavy dog had started stretching out on the new concrete floor of her pen, I suggested the possibility of pressure sores. So what are “hot spots?”

If you notice your dog chewing and licking at one or more areas and the area is red and moist, that is the time to find out the cause of the irritation and not wait.  If your dog has hot spots, the cost can be considerable if left undiagnosed and untreated.

Hot spots can be caused by several different possibilities, some of the most common are: flea allergies, cuts and abrasions, ear infection or anal gland infection, splinters or thorns, or even chewing and licking as a stress reliever.

This condition progresses to infections caused by an imbalance in the normal bacteria on the skin. The imbalance can be started by the chewing or by the introduction of bacteria from the mouth and nose or by the increase moisture and heat from licking and the matting of the chewed fur. Hot spots cause painful itching, so painful that often the veterinarian needs to sedate the animal before treating it.

The veterinarian will shave and clean the area to determine the size and severity of the lesion. Keeping the area of irritated skin clean and dry is essential for healing. All mats should be removed from the entire body as mats are a cause of hot spots. If a bacterial infection is diagnosed, an antibiotic will be prescribed for at least the next four weeks. It is important to keep the coat short or combed out each day

Remember that dogs like to have something to do.  Some breeds are bred to work all day in the fields.  The herding breeds and working breeds need to have plenty of exercise as well as something to stimulate the brain. However, hunting breeds and terriers, like the Russell type terrier, will create their own diversion if the owner doesn’t supply the distraction.

Exercise can include training in obedience, rally, agility and various sports like retrieving, swimming (be sure to provide a life jacket), or even for large breeds, carting as you work in the garden. If the dog is left alone during the day, providing puzzle toys that use treats as a stimulant will keep the dog busy for a short time (very intelligent animals) to several hours for the slower learners. 

Remember to keep the dog in a cool, shaded area during these excessively hot days and provide cool, clean water to keep him hydrated. The year my dog developed an irritated area on her back was both hot and humid and I had no air conditioning at the time.  Her treatment lasted six weeks of daily attention with a medicated spray and she was kept in the coolest spot in the house with fans circulating the air during the heat of the day.

Reference: http://www.vetary.com/dog/condition/hotspots