What causes those hotspots and itchy skin in dogs?
Have you heard of hotspots in dogs? All dogs scratch and all dogs itch, but that does not mean we always ignore this behavior. Sometimes your dog’s relentless scratching can have a serious underlying cause. And you need to be vigilant around these things. Could it be that your dog has developed a hotspot?
What is a hot spot?A hot spot is a skin rash, but more serious. It is moist and is usually quite itchy. And it can very quickly develop into a full-blown condition (sometimes in a few hours alone) if not treated in time. Hot spots are usually found around the head, neck and rump, and at times on the trunk of the body. Some dog also get hot spots on their tails or paws. While any dog of any age or breed can develop hot spots, certain breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors and Rottweilers, are known to be more prone to this condition.
What causes a hot spot?There are numerous reasons your dog could get a hot spot, and hence it is one of the most difficult to prevent. Some of the typical causes of hot spots are:
- Flea allergies and bites
- Cuts or abrasions
- Infections – an ear infection can lead to a hot spot behind the ears, or even anal gland infections
- A foreign object stuck in the skin, say a thorn or splinter
- Food allergies
- Matted fur keeping skin moist and prone to infections
- Insect bites
- Biting, licking or itching due to stress or boredom
Symptoms of hot spots on dogs:Identifying a hot spot is the first step in treating it. But how do you distinguish between harmless scratching and the suffering of a hot spot? Here are a few symptoms to look out for:
- Red, irritated skin
- Skin around the hot spot will be warmer than the rest of the body
- You will notice your dog itching or biting the area constantly
- The skin around the area will infected and swollen
- There could be yellowish scabs and crusting all over the hot spot
- The fur will be moist and matted
- You will also notice hair fall around the wound area
- The skin around the hot spot will have a foul odor
- Your dog could show signs of aggression when you try to touch the area
Treatment options for hot spots:While sometime not quick to spot, once you realize your dog has a hot spot, treatment must begin immediately. The good news is that hot spots can be cured. Start by clipping away as much hair as you can from around the area. This will reveal the extent of the infection and will also help dry the faster. Clean with a mild antiseptic to remove discharge and surface bacteria. Your vet might recommend a topical antibiotic/ anti-inflammatory cream to clean and soothe the area. In case of severe infection antibiotics might also be prescribed eliminate the infection from within the inner layers of the skin. It is important to locate the source of irritation. Treating the dog for fleas or allergies, or proper grooming to remove any foreign bodies is a must. Sometimes the hot spot can be very sensitive and the dog might now allow treatment. You might need to use general anesthesia to make the entire treatment process painless and less traumatizing for your dog. You might want to consider using Elizabeth collar or the ‘cone of shame’ on your dog to prevent biting and licking of the affected area during the treatment.
Natural remedies for hot spots on dogs:For less severe hot spots you can also try some natural remedies, like Aloe-Vera, honey, apple cider vinegar (do not use if skin is raw and broken), coconut oil and tea tree oil all of which soothe skin and prevent further itching. Used tea bags can also be placed on to the dog’s skin to draw out heat that is often the reason for more itching and biting.
How can you prevent hot spots?Like the clichéd saying goes, prevention is better than cure. The best way to prevent hot spots is to catch an irritation at early onset. If you notice your dog scratching more than usual, check the area. If you see even a hint of red skin or notice a lesion developing, get in touch with veterinarian immediately.Despite all your effort, your dog may still suffer from a hot spot occasionally. To prevent hot spots, you should:
- Groom your dog regularly and check for issues before they develop into big problems.
- Use a hypoallergenic shampoo for your dog’s bath.
- Make sure your dog doesn’t catch fleas or ticks.
- Trim your dog’s nails so that they don’t damage skin much while scratching.
- If your dog suffers from allergies, consider giving him a regular allergy medication.
- Feed your dog a proper diet.
Have you given thought to BARF – Basic Ancestral Raw Food?The best way to prevent food allergies and to keep your dog’s overall immune system in good shape is to feed him a balanced, species appropriate food. And the best option is raw. A part of the wolf family (yes, even your sweet Lab or lap-sized Apso), your dog needs and will thrive beautifully on a raw diet. Raw food is a natural food and it contains the exact mix of all the nutrients and goodness that a dog would get if it were a wild creature. More importantly, it doesn’t have any of low quality protein that is not good for your dog. You can make your own raw food in the right proportion, or you can buy commercially prepared raw food for your dog’s diet. Reduce the intake of processed and packaged dog kibble from your dog’s diet, and watch your furry companion’s allergies disappear.