Scratch, lick, bite…..Those nasty, nasty hot spots can wreak havoc on your dog. The continual scratching, licking, and biting your dog does to try to relieve the intense itching ends up as an area where the hair is gone, revealing a red, raw area of skin that may be bleeding from all the efforts of your pet to scratch itself, and there may be pus flowing from the area as well. Don’t look away too long, in less than an hour, a small area may turn into a very large one. It can spread just that fast!
“What is the problem and how do I fix it?” Good question and hear are some answers. No one answer may be right for your situation, so be sure to start with the simple solutions first, and keep progressing until you find what works for your pet. First, a hot spot is a form of skin infection that is called Acute Moist Dermatitus.
Bacteria normally found on the skin grows uncontrollably and is the cause of this condition. The hot spot may begin as a small circular patch, but can grow and spread very quickly. Wet coats, flea infestation, tangled and matted coats, dust, allergies, irritated anal sacs, and other various causes may be the culprit of the infection.
The infection can occur anywhere on the body, but most often is seen on the chest, back, flanks, and rump. Now, you want to know how to treat the problem. The first course of action is to immediately clip the hair surrounding the infected area to keep it from spreading. Clean the hot spot with clean water, mild soap, and an antisceptic cleaning agent. Keep the area dry and clean.
You may need to add cortisone, but I would suggest not doing so until you have tried simply keeping the area clean first. Applying creams or ointments may hinder healing. If healing does not occur without applying a treatment, then I would suggest applying a small amount. Contact your vet to determine how to proceed.
To help stop your dog from further mutilating himself, you may try putting socks over his feet, keep his nails smooth, or even add an Elizabethan collar to prevent your dog from biting himself any further. If there are any doubts about what to do, or if the case is severe, contact your vet, or take your dog to the vet ASAP. Like I said before, this condition can progress rapidly, and you don’t want your dog to suffer needlessly, or lose his beautiful coat.
To further prevent such incidents, put your pet on a scheduled grooming routine. Especially the thick coated breeds who are susceptible to matting and tangling. Keep your dog clean and dry. When your dog goes swimming, make sure to rinse him with clean water afterwards, and dry the coat completely.
A four week grooming schedule is best, with frequent brushing every two to three days. There are a variety of shampoos on the market that cater to dogs with sensitive skin. Be careful in your selection of shampoos and grooming supplies. Not all of them are worth it, or safe for sensitive dogs.
You need to make sure that your pet is not infected with fleas or ticks. Clean your house completely, vaccuming the carpets, washing his bedding, and dusting well. Work to rid your yard of these pests as well. Make sure your pet has a flea bath, a flea and tick collar, or is treated with topical flea and tick treatments.
You may need to have your vet run tests on your pup to determine if he has any allergies. The vet can determine what he is allergic to so that you can remove the culprit from his diet, or your home. Certain foods may cause the allergy, chemicals in laundry detergents, chemicals released from carpets, dust mites, household cleansers, and lawn chemicals may be the causative agent of your pet’s allergies.
There are many other causes possible. Antihistamines or steroids would be one of the last resorts, and would only be suggested and administered by your trusted vet.
Your dog may have an underlying psycological problem that may contribute to the mutilation. If your dog is left alone for long periods of time, is bored, frightened, or stressed out, he may bite, lick, and chew on himself as a way to relieve his anxiety. This may need the help of an animal psycologist or behaviorist.
Start by paying more attention to your pet. Try to set aside at least one half-hour per day to spend time with your beloved dog. Give him love, praise, playtime, and training. This may solve the problem. If you do not have the time for our pet, consider hiring a dogwalker or petsitter to spend valuable time with your loved one to hopefully relieve the problem.