How to Treat and Prevent Hot Spots on Dogs in Orlando, FL
When it comes to commonplace health conditions in pets, something we see most often at our animal hospital in Orlando, FL, is hot spots on dogs. Hot spots are an unpleasant and uncomfortable problem for millions of dogs around the world, but fortunately, they are not especially serious and can be treated effectively with the right care plan.
What is a Hot Spot?
A hot spot is a localized, inflamed patch of skin that can develop into an infected, seeping lesion over time. When a dog has a hot spot, they are likely to lick, chew, and scratch at the area, which will only make it worse. Hot spots can be itchy and irritating, but by licking and scratching at the area, the skin becomes more inflamed and more vulnerable to secondary infection.
What Causes Hot Spots on Dogs to Occur?
Dogs can develop hot spots as a result of any condition which causes itching and irritation, which leads to the licking, chewing, and scratching that break down the skin barrier and open the door to secondary infections.
Below are some of the primary causes of hot spots in dogs:
- Atopic dermatitis (skin allergies)
- Flea allergy dermatitis (some dogs have a hypersensitivity to flea saliva)
- Food allergies
- Mites, ticks, and other external pests
- Ear infections
- A tangled, dirty coat (tangles and mats tug on the skin, causing irritation)
- Anxiety and/or boredom
It’s important to identify the cause (or causes) of your dog’s hot spots so their condition can be treated properly and managed in the event of future flareups.
Other Factors that Contribute to Hot Spots
In addition to the causes listed above, there are a few other factors that can increase your dog’s chances of developing hot spots. These include:
Certain dog breeds are more prone to hot spots than others. Labs, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Rottweilers have thicker coats, which makes them more at risk for hot spots.
Orlando, FL is as warm and balmy as it gets. While this type of climate might be pleasant for you, it can exacerbate hot spots on your dog, too. Humid, warm weather can trap excess moisture on your pet’s skin, which might lead to irritation, itching, and then scratching.
Bathing, swimming, and spending time out in the rain can also result in excess moisture on the skin. Make sure your pet is thoroughly dried off, especially if they have a thicker coat, which can hold in more moisture.
What do Hot Spots Look Like?
It might be a little harder to see any hot spots on your dog if they have a thicker, longer coat. Look for isolated areas of hair loss, skin redness, and swelling. Hot spots tend to also be a little moist, and if they have had time to worsen, they could also be seeping fluid or pus. Matting of the surrounding fur and crusting of the skin can also occur.
If you see anything on your dog’s skin resembling a hot spot, you should contact your veterinarian right away.
How to Treat Hot Spots on Dogs in Orlando, FL
The first step to treating hot spots is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Hot spots rarely go away on their own, and in fact can become much worse if they are left alone.
To treat your dog’s hot spots effectively, your vet will need to find out the cause of the condition. Along with a physical examination, we may also recommend blood work and a skin cytology to find answers.
Once a cause has been identified, your vet will be able to recommend treatment options for your pet. These generally include:
- Clipping/shaving matted fur around the hot spot (if needed)
- Cleaning and disinfecting the skin with an antiseptic
- Bathing your dog with an antiseptic shampoo
- Providing antibiotics (oral or topical) to treat any existing secondary infections
- Providing a steroid medication (oral or topical) to treat itching and inflammation
- Administering an allergy medication (if needed)
- Providing gentle cleansing wipes to keep the skin clean
- Providing a cone/e-collar to keep your dog from licking, chewing, and scratching at their hot spots
Preventing Hot Spots on Dogs in Orlando, FL
There are several things you can do to prevent hot spots in your dog and help them live a healthier and more comfortable life.
Here’s what we recommend:
- Paying close attention to your pet’s health and behaviors, and acting quickly to treat or prevent potential skin issues
- Keeping your dog on parasite preventatives all year-round
- Managing your pet’s allergies (if they have an allergy)
- Bathing and brushing your dog regularly to prevent matting and the build-up of dirt, dead skin cells, oil, and loose hair
- Keeping your dog active with daily walks and playtimes
- Giving your dog supplements (with your vet’s approval) rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
If you suspect your dog has hot spots, please stop by our Orlando, FL, animal hospital at any time. You can give us a call at (407) 298-3807.