Thursday, July 2, 2009

Skin Disorders in Dogs: “Hot Spots”

By Anna Lee

There are several skin conditions that your dog could possibly come down with. The one I will cover in this article is Hot Spots. Another, Ringworm, will be featured in a future article. I have learned about both of these skin conditions “first paw,” so to speak. Both are easily treated with medications from your vet.

Last summer Abby developed “hot spots.” I didn’t know what to think when I first saw clumps of hair missing and red, raw patches of skin. I thought, or assumed, she had mange. Naturally I flew into a panic and called the vet. The soft, kind voice on the other end of the line told me to bring her in. The kind voice also said that from my description it didn’t sound like mange at all, which was a relief.

Being overly cautious for me usually means a vet visit. I am of the belief that if I notice something different about my dog’s physical condition, it is up to me to take action. It is my job as a responsible pet owner to keep her safe and healthy. Off to the vet we went. After an examination of the spots the vet took a skin sample and checked it under the microscope. No mange, thank goodness. She was diagnosed as having hot spots. Then I got an education from the vet regarding the causes and treatment.

The formal name for the condition is pyotraumatic dermatitis, or “hot spots.” Most of Abby’s hot spots were not in locations where she could scratch them easily. She did have one that she worked at with her nails quite vigorously. That one spot took longer to heal than the others. We were already living in our new house last August when we found the hair on the floor instead of on the dog. We had to put our trust in a new vet whom we did not know, although he was highly recommended by several sources. It turned out the recommendations were right on.

Our vet has a special mixture; the compound is his own special formula that he has made up for him in a lab. It has no name on the bottle, just directions to apply to the area twice a day. I would assume all vets have some secret potion and his is a good one. We had to put the liquid on her hot spots several times a day. Whatever is in that compound takes away the itchiness and allows the skin to heal. We also use this same liquid in her ears when she gets wax resulting from ear infections.

If you notice a clump of hair missing and the spot on your dog is round, with the skin possibly red from scratching (and sometimes it has an aroma) – then your pooch probably has hot spots.

Abby meets most of the following criteria which makes her susceptible to hot spots: she has a heavy coat, allergies, ear infections, anal gland problems, and she lives in a warm humid climate. Other causes which she doesn’t share are hair tangles, matted hair or behavior problems. Hot spots can be found on a dog’s legs and feet, flanks and rump.

Your vet may recommend over the counter “people allergy meds” to help with the allergy problems. Whatever the cause is for your particular dog, make sure to follow the vet’s recommendations and procedures to cure the problem. Don’t worry about the bald spots – once the hot spots heal the hair will grow back and fill in!

It has been almost a year since Abby’s hot spots appeared, and we have not had one since!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

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