Categories: Dogs

How to Cure Dog Hot Spots

Does your dog scratch all the time? Does your dog suffer from painful skin irritations? Do you want to learn how to cure dog hot spots? If you answered yes to any of these questions, read on…

Dog hot spots are inflamed areas of skin that cause the dog a great deal of discomfort, resulting in them licking and biting at the area. The more the dog licks and bites at the area, the more inflamed it becomes, and without treatment can lead to unsightly lesions, which are very painful for the dog. Also known as moist dermatitis, these skin conditions can flare up within minutes, and can spread quite rapidly, resulting in chronic skin condition and hair loss in the affected area.

Symptoms of Dog Hot Spots

Moist dermatitis can be recognized as a hot patch of moist, reddened skin, which is very obviously causing the dog much discomfort and distress. In extreme cases where the skin is broken, the area may be bleeding, and if left untreated secretions of puss will form as infection sets in.

What Causes Hot Spots on a Dog

Moist dermatitis is often caused by an allergic reaction to something in the dog’s environment, such as grass seeds, pollen, house dust, and fleas, or to food that he has consumed. Other common causes of localized skin inflammation include external parasites, anal gland disease, and adverse skin reactions to clipping or grooming. Less common causes include adverse reactions to medication, or injection site irritation. Long haired dogs with a thick undercoat such as retrievers, collies and shepherds are more at risk, but moist dermatitis is common among short haired dogs as well.

How to Treat Dog Hot Spots

In order to learn how to cure dog hot spots successfully, it is essential that one takes a two-pronged approach. Firstly, one needs to treat the symptoms to relieve the dogs suffering and prevent spreading, and secondly one needs to determine the cause of the problem so that it can be prevented in future. Dogs in pain may show signs of aggression, and it would be wise to muzzle or sedate the dog if necessary while treating the infected area. The dog may need to be fitted with an Elizabethan collar (cone) to prevent it from chewing at the area while the wound heals — although they are adjustable, these come in various sizes, so make sure you purchase a cone that is the correct size for your pet.

The following steps need to be taken to treat the affected area:

  1. The hair surrounding the inflammation needs to be clipped or shaved short so that the infected area can be properly treated.
  2. The infected area needs to be washed with a medicated shampoo or soap, and then gently patted dry.
  3. Keep the inflamed area cool by applying cool compresses. Home remedies using tea bags as a compress to help cool down the skin also help to dry out the lesions.
  4. There are a few different options in terms of medical treatment that you can apply to treat the symptoms of moist dermatitis, and your choice will be determined by how severe the case is. If the wound is secreting puss, this indicates bacterial infection, and requires treatment by applying an anti-bacterial cream and/or antibiotics administered orally.
  5. To reduce inflammation and relieve itching antihistimine tablets can be given, or hydrocortisone ointment applied to the area.

Finally, prevention is better than cure, and no matter how successful your treatment, dog hot spots will recur unless the cause of the problem is addressed. You will need to ascertain whether the allergy is food related or caused by some stimulus in the environment, an allergic reaction to fleas, or whether there is some other underlying cause of the reaction. You will then need to take steps to prevent it from flaring up again as this will not only save you time and money, but you and your dog further anguish as well.

Image Credit: "Canine lick granuloma" by self - Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Jenny Griffin

is the Owner/Founder of Ecologix Environmental Media Services, Ecology Matters, and Stuff4Petz. Jenny is a freelance writer specializing in topics related to pet care, animal welfare, and environmental issues. She has published a series of Pet Owners Guides - view her Amazon author profile. Jenny has worked with animals all her life, having owned her own pet shop, dog grooming parlor, and educational mobile petting zoo; and has also worked in the fields of marine science and environmental education. Jenny resides on a smallholding with her extensive menagerie of rescued animals, which is in itself a full time job. When she is not writing or caring for her animals, she can be found surfing the waves at her local beach, or spending time with her horses.

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Jenny Griffin

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