Since starting our store, one common occurrence I’ve noticed, and constantly get questioned on, is hotspots.
What is a hotspot you ask? Without getting scientiﬁc about it, it’s basically a moist, raw skin disorder appearing as reddish sores, usually aggravated by excessive scratching and licking by your dog. Keep in mind this is all very painful and itchy to your dog. What starts out as a mild skin condition, gets gradually worse as the dog chews or irritates the broken skin. This introduces bacteria which in turn leads to infection. If not treated right away, it can turn into a serious wound.
The term “Hotspot” in not a speciﬁc diagnosis, but more of a general description of what’s occurring on your dog’s skin.
This typically affects large breed dogs with long, thick coats. Dogs that do a lot of swimming, or live in a humid climate are more vulnerable to hotspots.
- Wet scab on the fur.
- Infected and inﬂamed skin appearing as a red, oozing area
- Loss of Fur
- Reddish-Brown saliva stains around the hot spot site
- Unpleasant smell from infected area
- Dog may be very agitated
To ﬁgure out what caused the hotspots in the ﬁrst place can be a little tricky as there are so many factors involved. Triggers could be any of the following:
- Food allergy (Some ingredient in the food is the root cause)
- Poor quality food
- Insect bites, ﬂeas or mites
- Environmental allergies like grass, weeds, pollen, etc.
- Warm weather
- Ear and anal gland infections are also a factor
- Stress, loneliness or boredom can also contribute to the licking and scratching
- Neglected grooming. Long, matted or tangled hair traps moisture on the skin
Ways to treat are numerous.
- Trim fur around the hotspot. Drying it out and exposing it to air will help speed up the healing process
- Wash dog with an antiseptic shampoo, or clean with a antiseptic spray
- Use an anti-itch spray to prevent further scratching
- Apply hydro-cortisone spray or cream to stop the itching and promote healing. This will be available from your vet
- Prevent your dog from biting, licking or scratching the infected area. The dreaded cone might do the trick
- Apply a cool compress a few times a day. Tea bags (non-herbal black tea) work well for this
- Adding raw food to the diet has been known to work for some
- Try switching to a Grain Free food, in case of a grain based allergy
- Adding ﬁsh oil or Omega-3 supplement to food. This will improve coat and prevent itchiness
- Adding coconut oil directly to the skin, or adding to food is also something to try
- Keep the dog well groomed, especially in the Summer. This allows the skin to dry quicker
- Always dry your dog thoroughly after bathing or swimming
- Flea prevention and control
- If it is a behavioural issue like stress or boredom, make sure they get plenty of exercise and playtime
Having healthy skin is the ideal way for dogs to avoid getting hotspots. Treating hotspots is a lot of trial and error. What works for one dog, may not necessarily work for another. Hotspots very seldom go away on their own. Call your vet and start treating your dog as soon as possible. Be patient, there is no overnight solution.