Acute moist dermatitis or “Hot Spot” typically appears relatively quickly on any area of the body, although the tail base, flank, and neck are some of the most common. The area usually appears red, raised, irritated and has some degree of hair loss. The dog will chew or lick at the area and it is usually quite painful. This condition can result in a skin infection or “pyoderma” and can cause lethargy, inappetence and fever depending upon the severity.
Hot Spots are a relatively common skin condition in dogs. The initial cause can be an insect bite such as a mosquito, tick, or flea, and/or an allergic reaction (to a food or an environmental irritant). Dogs collars have been known to cause enough irritant to incite the formation of a hot spot. A damp hair coat also provides the perfect environment for a skin infection which can result in a hot spot. Breeds of dogs such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and dogs with loose and/or excess skin and wrinkles can be more prone.
Treatment of the actual hot spot can include many different options depending upon the severity.
Topical Treatment: It is important to clip all the hair in the area and typically you will find that the lesion is larger than initially noticed. The area will then be cleaned with a diluted antiseptic solution and treated with an antibiotic/steroid spray or ointment. These treatments will need to be continued at home several times per day until the area has healed. In order to keep your dog from continuing to lick or chew the area they will need to wear an Elizabethan collar. Be careful to avoid licking of medications as well.
Internal Treatment: In most cases, hot spots require oral treatment as well in order to fully resolve. If the area is not already infected it is very susceptible to secondary bacterial infection since the skin is severely abraded. This treatment is typically an oral medication and an anti-inflammatory medication.
Treating the Underlying Cause: The most common cause of hot spots is fleas. Ensuring that your dog has been treated with an adequate flea/tick prevention is key to successful treatment. If the underlying cause is allergies it is important to try and determine what is causing the allergic reactions. Making sure to dry your pet thoroughly after swimming, and not leaving a wet collar on can also help take care of some more common causes of hot spots.
Hot spots develop due to intense irritation of the skin. Pyoderma, or a bacterial skin infection, will often develop in conjunction with a hot spot. The open, abraded, often moist skin offers a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This bacterial skin infection can cause the development of pustules, open sores, pus, and a foul odor. It is important to catch and treat early before deeper, more serious skin infections occur along with severe discomfort due to itching.
Fortunately, the recovery time for acute moist dermatitis is usually quite short. The lesions tend to heal almost as quickly as they appear. Early veterinary intervention and consistent treatment at home usually allows for complete healing of the area within 7-10 days. Unfortunately if you are not able to pinpoint and treat the underlying cause (ie parasites, allergies, etc.) the condition is likely to recur. Additionally, without proper care and medication these lesions can be progressive and extremely difficult to heal.
If you think your pet has a hot spot, please contact Meadowlands Veterinary Hospital at 201-646-2008 to schedule an appointment.