Dealing With Canine Hot Spots

August 7, 2012

If your dog has ever suffered from a skin condition known as “hot spots,” you know what misery it creates for your pet.  Hot spots usually occur in dogs with long hair or dense undercoats – or so they say.  However, my Harlequin Great Dane with short hair struggled with them for years.  Hot spots often occur as an allergic reaction to something – either in the dog’s environment or food.  After a battery of allergy tests, Ginny was found to be allergic to 3 grasses – all found in our back yard.

A hot spot is a circular “sore” found anywhere on a dog’s body.  The lesions are raw, red and painful.  Dogs will lick or scratch the spots and cause even more irritation.  Treatment only works if you can identify and eliminate the underlying cause.  Otherwise, the spots will keep returning whenever the dog is exposed to the allergen.  It is important to keep your dog’s nails trimmed short, and you may even have to use socks or dog booties on his back feet to keep him from further irritating the hot spots.  Your veterinarian will recommend the proper treatment, so be sure to included him or her in whatever you do.

Ginny’s problem was complicated by the fact that not all of her allergens were found.  Yes, she was allergic to the various grasses but in the 1980’s, veterinarians didn’t usually test for food allergies.  I injected Ginny twice-weekly with the antigen for the grasses to which she tested positive.  After a year, we realized we were wasting our money and time and thoroughly irritating the dog.  So I began to examine her life to see what we might be missing.

Food was the next obvious choice.  We switched out her food for a few months at a time, changing when a hot spot would reappear.  Eventually, we found one that worked.  Ginny had no more hot spots.  But I still didn’t understand the connection or what could have been in the food that caused her misery.  What I do know is that the commercial dog food we settled on contained NO corn or chicken.  One of those must have been her trigger.  If you want to know more about the connection between hot spots and diet, here is an e-book that explains it in detail.  Best of all, right now you can get a downloadable copy for just a donation of your choice to Seniors for Pets, Inc.

 If your pet develops hot spots, visit your veterinarian first.  At home, good skin care is essential for your dog.  You might try trimming the fur away from the affected areas and cleaning the area gently with a mild antiseptic.  Before using any creams or sprays, I would want the vet to weigh in, because the dog is going to lick the area, if he can reach it.  You want to be sure the products you use won’t poison your dog.  There are over-the-counter products sold for hot spots, and you may have luck with one of those.  You may want to check out for skin-relief products for your pet.      Our website will benefit from purchases you make using this link, and Seniors for Pets, Inc, a Florida non-profit group that helps senior citizens who need assistance with basic veterinary care for their pets, will receive said monetary benefit.

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