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Hot Spots

My first two Golden Retrievers have had more than their fair share of Hot Spots. Hopefully you are luckily enough to have a Golden Retriever who has never had own of these awful things, but if you do have a dog that is prone to them, or if you think your dog might have a hot spot, please read on:

What is a hot spot?

A hot spot is a moist, smelly, raw area of the skin. The skin is normally oozy and it smells quite bad. Sometimes hot spot can occur without your dog ever chewing or scratching at the area. They can appear overnight, one day nothing, the next day a big oozy raw mess.

Theories differ from the reason why these hot spots occur. Some people think they are caused by bacteria. Others think they are caused by the dogs body expelling a toxin out of their skin. Sometimes they can occur just from irritation.

Lick granulomas can also develop into a hot spot. A lick granuloma is an area a dog will excessively lick and chew – often on their legs and feet. The area will first be pink, raw, and irritated, but can develop into an oozy hotspot without intervention.

Hot spots can also occur from allergies, sensitivities, and other intolerances. Fleas can be be one of these causes. Some dogs are more sensitive to fleas than others. When my dogs had just a few fleas, they chewed off their backsides and developed hot spots all over. Other causes include: food allergies, anal glad problems, grooming neglect, insect bites, and even stress.

Hot spots are also called acute moist dermatitis, moist eczema, or summer sores.

How do I treat a hot spot?

If the hotspot is still small, you may choose to trim the hair with scissors. Larger hotspots should be shaved, including at least an inch around the hotspot. Clipping or shaving allows air to get at the hotspot to allow it to dry. Your dog is going to lose the hair where the hotspot is, if he/she hasn’t already. There is no way to prevent the hair loss. Don’t worry, it will grow back! (I know, small consolation if you have a show coming up!).

To clean the hot spot you should use an antibacterial soap. I use Hibitane. It cleans it well and helps dry it out.

A hot spot on Winger’s head after shaving. Click on the photo to see a larger image.

Hot spots can be deep, involving several layers of skin. Your dog may chew and scratch at it. Because of this, it can take weeks for the area to scab up and heal. If your dog is a licker or a chewer, and just will not leave the affected area alone to heal, you should strongly consider using an Elizabethan collar (looks like a lampshade) so your dog can’t continue to lick and chew the area.

You will read all sorts of seemingly crazy ideas to get rid of a hot spot faster. I have tried almost every one. The only one I found that seemed to work better than the rest, was squeezing a Vitamin E capsule on the area. Other ideas include; green tea bags, Gold Bond Powder, sulphur powder, . For very moist hot spots, the application of a powder seems quite counter productive. While they will help form a crust over the area, the wet moist infection will still be raging underneath.

When my dogs have had a bad hot spot, I take them to the veterinarian. The vet will clip the area and clean it. When the are particularly green and gooey, my vet has prescribed an antibiotic, and a hydrocortisone cream. I have heard of very large hot spot receiving a cortisone injection by a veterinarian.

How do I prevent hot spots?

There are some things you can do to prevent hot spots. Never let your Golden Retriever go to sleep wet after swimming, or a bath, or walking in the rain. Thoroughly dry your dog with a towel, or use a blow dryer if you have to. Hot spots that occur from your dog being left wet are normally located in the folds under the legs, behind their ears, under the neck – any place where the air can’t get to.

Groom your dog regularly. Not only will you remove possible irritants (you know the items your dogs can pick up in their coats! burrs, sticks, thistles, grasses etc) and remove the loose hair, but you can also look for any sign of fleas.

One of my Golden Retrievers seems to be allergic to any and all grains. If he has as much as one MilkBone treat, he will have a hotspot within 2 days. With a grain-free diet (including no rice) he does okay (ie. a raw diet, home made diet, or a duck and potato kibble diet).

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