A few weeks back, nearly six-year-old Maggie presented to our Wellness Centre when her owner discovered a large area on her chest that looked rather strange. Thinking it was just dirt, Maggie’s Mum went to wash it off, but quickly realised that it was indeed her skin, and that it seemed incredibly irritated and very painful. After Dr. Michael had a thorough examination, it was clear that Maggie was suffering from a very severe “hot spot”. In dogs, a “hot spot” refers to a localized area of acute inflammation and infection on the skin. It is also known as acute moist dermatitis. Hot spots can develop rapidly and are often characterized by red, moist, and irritated skin. These areas can be intensely itchy and painful for the dog, leading to excessive licking, chewing, and scratching, which further exacerbate the problem.
One of the most important parts of the treatment of acute moist dermatitis is to clip as much of the hair away as possible, including going outside the circumference of what appears to be the problem area. This helps keep the area dry and facilitates topical treatment. Darling Maggie was in so much pain that Dr. Michael and the team were unable to clip much at all with her conscious, and she returned a few days later to the team at Berwick for sedation.
Once sedated, the extent of Maggie’s hot spots, were in fact far greater than initially suspected. Once clipping began and multiple problem areas revealed, it made sense to give her a fresh summer haircut, free from her overgrown coat! This ensured that all of Maggie’s irritated skin could be attended effectively, and her coat could be more easily maintained in future. She went home looking much better and in far less discomfort than before!
However unfortunately for their parents, Maggie’s eight-month-old baby sister Reilly decided that she didn’t like being left out of the action and was jealous of her big sister’s new do! Shortly after Maggie was well on the road to recovery, Reilly became sore and scratchy on her chest, and much to her owner’s dismay, had also developed a hot spot in exactly the same area! Luckily for everyone involved though, Reilly’s dermatitis was far less severe. Due to her gorgeous shaggy hair-do however which was unable to be brushed out and clipped easily, it was deemed that Reilly also deserved a trip to the salon!
Some of the most common causes of hot spots in dogs include;
- Allergies: Dogs may develop hot spots as a result of allergies to certain foods, environmental factors (such as pollen or grass), or contact with irritants.
- Moisture and friction: Hot spots are more likely to occur in areas where moisture accumulates, such as after swimming or in dogs with thick coats (something the girls particularly loved!). Friction from rubbing or scratching can also contribute to their development.
- Bacterial infection: Hot spots often become infected with bacteria, worsening the inflammation. The warm and moist environment created by the hot spot provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
- Underlying skin conditions: Dogs with underlying skin conditions, such as dermatitis or flea allergy dermatitis, may be more prone to developing hot spots.
If you suspect your dog has a hot spot, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your dog’s specific needs.
Though we aren’t groomers, we like to think that Maggie and Reilly don’t look too bad at all, and can now perhaps enjoy this warmer weather in a bit more comfort, free from those nasty hot spots we hope! Well done ladies!