What is a Hot Spot?
Hot spots (pyotraumatic dermatitis) is an itchy skin infection. It is usually caused by Staphylococcus intermedius, a bacteria that is always present on the dogs skin.
A hot spot often starts out very small and spreads very quickly. It is a red, irritated, moist and often hairless area, that can sometimes be yellowish from pus.
The infection is often thought to be caused by an underlying factor, like a flea bite, anal gland disease, ear infections or some other type of irritation, causing the dog to bite or scratch the area. Some of the more serious underlying causes are arthritis and degenerative joint diseases, such as hip dysplasia.
Dogs with allergies will often have problems with hot spots without there being any other underlying cause present.
When the dogs starts licking and biting the irritated area it triggers a viciuos cycle, as these actions causes the Staphylococcus intermedius bacteria to multiply and helps the infection spread. The infection causes even more irritation thus the dog will scratch and bite the area even more...
An other cause might be moisture that is trapped next to the skin, causing an environment where the bacteria can multiply. In this case the infection can be hidden under the fur, if the infection is in a place where the dog is not able to scratch or bite it.
It is therefore very important to make sure the dogs fur gets completely dry after it’s been in water.
Dogs with thick fur, like the German Shepherd and the Golden Retriever, seem to be more susceptible to hot spots.
It is important to get a hot spot checked out by a vet to try and determine the underlying cause and to rule out any possible underlying causes of serious nature.
A hot spot is easy to treat. Often in the case of a small hot spot the only actions needed are clipping the fur and cleaning the lesion. In other cases the vet chooses to apply some disinfecting and/or desiccating powder, to help the healing.
In more severe cases antibiotics, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs may be necessary.
Want to know a bit more about hot spots?
You could start by visiting these sites: PetEducation.com, The Pet Center, Mangrove Veterinary Hospital and VetContact.