Hot spots are more than just a nuisance; they can cause your dog some real discomfort. Some owners of long-haired dogs get their pets clipped for the summer just to make sure the dog's heavy coat can't trap and hold moisture in the hot weather.
When you hear the term “hot spot”, you may think it’s a popular place to eat, or maybe where you can find free wireless internet access. But in the pet world, “hot spot” is a common name for a condition called pyotramatic dermatitis, which basically means a severe inflammation of the skin.
If you notice your dog scratching or biting in one particular area on its body, your pet could have a “hot spot”. It is commonly caused by a bacterial infection, and can appear seemingly overnight. Hot spots are usually warm to the touch, and painfully itchy for the animal. They are most often found on dogs with thick coats or double coats, such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels. Thicker coats allow moisture to become trapped against the skin, making the area a friendly place for infection to take hold - but no breed is exempt. Pets with very short coats may have problems with hot spots, many times due to allergies.
Because of the intense itchy irritation, a dog will scratch, bite and chew the hot spot, and in the process infect other areas on its body. The animal can become miserable in a very short time. Hot spots need to be addressed quickly, to prevent additional spreading of the infection.
Treatment for a hot spot includes a visit to your veterinarian, who will probably trim or shave the hair from the infected area. A good cleaning and an antihistamine or steroid shot will help relieve the itching. The vet may also prescribe an antibiotic for the infection and recommend an ointment to be applied to the hot spot to speed drying and healing.
Once treated, a hot spot should be much improved within 48 hours, and completely healed in a week. If your dog has suffered from one hot spot, be on the lookout because there is a greater likelihood that you’ll see the problem again.
The hot humid weather we have during the summer can increase the danger of hot spots for our pets. You can help protect your dog by brushing it often, to prevent matted fur, and to remove dead hair from its coat, which will keep the fur aerated. When it comes to hot spots, good grooming can do more than make your best friend look good – it can help it stay healthy, when you’re speaking of pets.