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Hot Spots in dogs and cats… Cause, Treatments and Potential Costs!

Possibly one of the most frustrating and heart-breaking condition a dog or cat can suffer from is having a “hot spot”.  Which is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss exactly what a “hot spot” is as well as review some common treatment options that you may want to explore in order to help alleviate your pets discomfort.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Hot Spot Defined.

Hot Spots (technically known as Pyrotraumatic Dermatitis or Acute Moist Dermatitis) are itchy, irritated, often red and weeping sores appear in patches on your dog or cat’s skin – leaving your pet with no option but to scratch.

This scratching…

Then leads to the “patches” of skin that we’re all used to which can then end up increasing in size, causing a vicious cycle that never seems to end.  The worst part is that much like a human having Chicken Pox, scratching really doesn’t seem to anything to take away the itch. All it does is make matters worse, meaning that this seemingly innocent condition can get really bad, really quickly.

So, what is it and what causes it?

Hot Spots are usually initially caused by some sort of outside stimulus such as a chemical ingredient you are using in the home that they are allergic to, or maybe a pollen allergy or a dust allergy, it might even just be caused by warm weather and a heavy fur coat.

It can also be…

A result of other related diseases such as anal sacculitis or demodicosis, or even simply the result of food allergies. Allergic reactions to insect bites and flea bite allergies are further known causes.

Whatever the initial trigger…

The skin produces cells which would usually fight off the itchiness, causing the area to become dry. The dog scratches until it punctures the skin. The skin picks up a bacterial infection. These infections or small lesions are known by two different names: either Pyoderma or Folliculitis – and they are the source of most of your pet’s discomfort.

These legions will then…

Commonly spread their itchy infection out to any damp, warm areas of your dog’s body in much the same way as a human might catch Thrush. Thus, continuing a never-ending cycle of scratching and bleeding that can only be broken with veterinary intervention.

These horrid patches…

Of weeping skin often quickly become hairless as the dog chews away the hair… a sight to tug on anyone’s heartstrings.

So, while this might sound like it is ‘only a skin condition’ you should beware. This is a terrible disease whose progression is maddening.

Breeds known to be at risk from Hot Spots

  • German Shepherd Dogs
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Rottweilers
  • Bernard’s

Although all dogs are…

At risk from this skin condition the most commonly affected breeds are those with thick coats and a predisposition towards skin allergies. Pure bred dogs are more likely to catch it than mongrels since many pure breeds have allergies down to inherent DNA.

And how do you treat it?

Your veterinary surgeon will most likely undergo a course of antibiotics as treatment for this skin condition. Anti-inflammatory medications may be used and you can get a topical cream to aid with recovery of the affected area. However, this problem is likely to return again and again until you find and fix the underlying cause.

That means that…

You and your vet need to find out what is causing the initial itching. This may mean sending your pet for expensive allergen testing if all else fails. The usual method is to rule out causes one at a time and see what works.

As you can imagine…

This is a slow and horrendously painful time for your pet so we would always advise that you save them the pain and have the tests done.

Homeopathic medications are also…

Commonly recommended for this skin condition. Tea Tree Oil will help to disinfect and clean the area, while Apple Cider Vinegar ought to help fight off the bad bacteria that are causing the infection. These can be used as temporary measures of relief or to accompany your vet’s oral treatments. We however would not recommend that you use them in conjunction with any topical creams.

In extreme cases…

Your vet may also recommend performing a skin biopsy. It is highly likely that they will first perform a skin scrape (to test for mites) and then run a series of allergy testing if you cannot figure out what is causing it. If you are still in the dark after all of this a skin biopsy may be completed to get to the bottom of this matter.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet maybe suffering from a “hot spot” (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Which is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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