The dog’s skin is the largest organ of the body, however, there is a very limited number of ways in which it reacts to trauma. “Hot Spots” or acute moist dermatitis are generally spots on the dog’s skin brought on by the dog’s itching, biting and scratching and can seem to arise rather abruptly.
These areas can become fairly large and may show up just about anywhere on the dog. I find it frequently in the springtime when the temperatures are hotter as well as the humidity is higher.
The dogs with the thick undercoat, for example, Labs, Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers are prone to getting these kinds of spots on their face and neck, but while the spring can bring skin challenges, the cold weather can too – dry, itchy skin can sometimes be caused by a dog’s flaky skin.
Very often, areas found at the base of the tail are very likely as a result of fleas simply because fleas would rather gather in these places.
Quite a few dogs are so sensitive to fleas, the bite of one flea is sufficient to trigger the dog to itch all over. Any sort of injury can begin the process which the dog then exacerbates by relentless chewing and licking which in turn results in a vicious cycle and will cause the hot spot to spread.
The dog ordinarily has bacteria that exists on their skin and as long as the skin is healthy, the microorganisms hardly ever lead to any complications. However when a problem develops, say for example a fleabite, cut or allergic reactions, the dog starts to lick, bite, chew and scratch which often disrupts the protective layer of the skin. Once that happens, the microorganisms on the skin, as well as the germs in the mouth, set up housekeeping in the skin. This creates a swiftly spreading infection which can be quite painful. The spot on the skin is red, raw and seems moist because the wound oozes serum and pus. The hair then mats down over the wound and the infection then spreads beneath the hair.
If this happens to your dog, a visit to the veterinarian is generally called for. Most often, the dog’s fur has to be trimmed away to halt the spread of the infection and sometimes, these hot spots are so painful, the dog may need to be sedated in order to have the region cleansed and shaved. Antibiotics are prescribed to manage the infection and follow-up antibiotics are sent home. Sprays, ointments and medicated shampoos are often prescribed to continue treatment at home. For some dogs, a special collar may be used that will deter the dog from chewing at the spots.
The underlying cause of the skin problem must also be resolved to make sure the problem doesn’t recur. If fleas can be found, then year round flea control may be recommended. If you’re unsure if your dog has fleas, here’s a guide as to how to tell if your dog has fleas with photos and a video for guidance.
Pollen, food, and other allergens can also bring on hot spots if a dog is allergic to something. Sometimes special diets with essential fatty acids and a novel protein source such as salmon, lamb or venison might be prescribed to help heal the skin. Blood and skin tests can be performed to help identify what the dog is allergic to and special allergy injections or prescription diets is often given.
Check your dog daily for itchy spots and use flea control suggested by your veterinarian year round to help prevent hot spots caused by flea allergies. Daily grooming and brushing can keep mats from developing. If your dog is itching excessively, take him to the veterinarian to handle the itching before the infection can develop.