just dropped our dog off at the vet's because we woke up this morning and
she had a huge, stinky, wet area around and under her ear. It's even
going down her neck!
And we heard her scratching all night but never
suspected anything like this was going on.
What the heck is a hotspot and how did she get
it? Oh, she's a 4 year old Golden retriever.
are a rapid, infiltrating skin infection that spreads rapidly outward from
the initial intrusion. An assortment of bacteria normally inhabit the
pet's skin surface (and ours, too) and this flora presents no problem
until something upsets the status quo. If a particularly vigorous
colony of staph, pseudomonas, or other bacteria gets a chance to enter the
scraped or scratched skin they multiply rapidly. Their physical
presence, and even more, their chemical toxins released on and into the
skin, break down the skin's defenses.
The inflamed and irritated skin causes the dog to
scratch vigorously at the spot and further damages the skin... essentially
inoculating more areas with the infecting bacteria. The toxins and
bacteria will enter hair follicles, oil glands and deep layers of skin and
create severe and slow-to-heal hairless patches. Initially red, wet
and hot, the healing progresses to dry scabs, then to clean and smooth
skin that usually regrows hair... sometimes of a different color than the
It's important to seek medical attention as soon
as a hotspot is identified. Clipping the fur, gently cleaning the
area, applying appropriate medication, and often systemic antibiotics all
assist in the healing process. Occasionally anti-inflammatory
medications such as antihistamine and cortisone can be helpful. Diet
plays a huge roll, too!
Some dogs and cats, even though eating a good
quality diet, will benefit from extra levels of certain nutrients.
Omega Fatty Acids, glucosamine, zinc, and sulfur sources such as egg yolk
can aid tissue repair and strengthen normal tissues.
Most short haired dogs never need a bath and
unfortunately there are dogs that are bathed weekly no matter what!
Most shampoos will remove much of the skin's protective oil layer and will
lead to dry, flaky, itchy skin. Bathe the dog only when
needed and rinse, rinse, rinse to remove all traces of shampoo.