Hot spots are moist, oozing areas that are often hidden by the coat in the early stages. Usually the symptoms start with a dog scratching the affected area or rubbing it against furniture or on a rug. A closer look generally reveals a wet, infected, oval or round area under the hair coat. The hair is generally matted and falls out in the area and the affected area can spread without treatment. While hot spots may be a onetime occurrence, more frequently they continue to return. This can be seasonal in some situations, or more repeatedly, depending on the cause. They are most often found on the head, neck, hip or rear legs.
What Causes Hot Spots?
There are a variety of reasons Hot Spots occur. Some Hot Spots can be caused from flea or insect bites, allergies, yeast infections, untreated hypothyroidism, infrequent bathing, clipper burns, not rinsing well enough after bathing or other skin abrasions that become infected. More seriously, the underlying cause can be because their immune system is not working properly. An immune system that is working well generally won’t allow allergic reactions, can ward off exposure to normal levels of bacteria and yeast, and allows the body to repair surface skin lesions easily. We will discuss nutritional and supplement help later in this article.
Treatment depends on the severity of the hot spot. Keeping the area clean is the first order of the day. Washing the area with antibacterial soap and keeping it clean is important. Washing the skin and surrounding hair coat several times daily is helpful. If the area is seriously infected, and/or inflamed, veterinarian attention may be needed, along with antibiotics. I have used a solution of ¾ witch hazel and ¼ Aloe Vera gel, which can be gotten in a very effective and handy premixed solution, called Thayer’s Super Hazel with Aloe. The witch hazel helps kill bacteria and temporarily relieves the itching. The Aloe Vera, calendula, and other herbal oils help to heal and cool the area. Apply this solution as often as needed. I have also used Gold Bond Powder with some success in more stubborn cases. Gold Bond contains zinc oxide, menthol (for itching), along with peppermint and eucalyptus. Wash the affected areas as needed, dry the affected area, and then apply the witch hazel.
Prevention includes cleanliness, good grooming, good nutrition and supporting the immune system. Cleanliness means keeping the coat and skin clean, free from dirt, salt, dandruff and foreign items such as grass, burrs, oil and other things that might catch on your dogs coat or skin. I like to use an oatmeal based shampoo, which is gentle, heals the skin, and helps prevent itching. Rinse with a solution of ¾ water and ¼ white vinegar. Be sure to rinse all the shampoo thoroughly. Cleanliness also means checking your dog’s ears and also keeping them clean.
Good grooming includes brushing your dog’s coat, and making sure to remove any matted hair. Always keep your dog’s nails short and check between the toes and pads for any irritation or foreign objects.
Good nutrition means feeding a good diet that contains good variety. Getting ‘stuck’ feeding the same protein sources over and over can set a dog up for allergies. For raw and home cooked diet feeders, that means feeding 4-5 protein sources in the diet. For those feeding commercial dog, it means switching brands and protein sources often and also adding fresh food protein sources to the menu. This can include meat, eggs, plain yogurt, cottage cheese and canned mackerel, salmon or sardines. Fresh foods offers the best in nutrients and also helps to keep an immune system strong.
Good Supplements for maintaining a strong Immune System and Healthy Coat and Skin:
EPA Fish Oil Capsules – These contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are helpful for good coat and skin, helps fight inflammation, are renal, heart and liver protective and offer support for the immune system. Give one per 10-20 pounds of body weight daily.
Bertes Immune Blend – This powdered blend contains vitamins and nutrients that help support the immune system. It contains high amounts of Vitamin C (which act as a natural antihistamine) and Vitamin E, which are antioxidants, B vitamins, which help the nerves and brain function, and L-glutamine, which is an important amino acid that helps with healing and is helpful for ‘sensitive’ stomachs. Also included in the Berte’s Immune Blend are probiotics, which are the good flora and fauna bacteria that help with digestion and animal based digestive enzymes, which help absorb nutrients in food more efficiently and help prevent allergies.
Berte’s Immune System Formula (editor’s note: Use B-Naturals Immune Blend) – This herbal liquid tincture contains Astralagus, Ganoderma, Echinacea Root, Red Root, Red Clover, Yarrow, Dandelion Root, Boneset and Flower Essences, all which are helpful in supporting the immune system.
Tasha's Skin and Hair Support (no longer available, please use Animals’ Apawthecary Spring Tonic instead) – This herbal liquid tincture contains ingredients to help keep the skin and coat healthy, along with nettles, which is an herb that helps to control itchiness. Use twice daily for best results.
Purepet Shampoo – This shampoo is a oatmeal based, which will help keep moist areas dry and help stop itching. It has a wonderful scent, is gentle on a dog’s skin and is available in both a 16 oz and a convenient one gallon size.
Thayer’s Witch Hazel and Aloe – This blend contains witch hazel, which helps kill bacteria and temporarily stops itching. The Aloe Vera and other herbal ingredients helps cool the affected area and heal skin irritations. It comes in a handy squirt bottle for easy application. It can also be used in the ears for regular cleanings and can be applied directly onto minor skin irritations and abrasions.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from Lew and B-Naturals!
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