The back of the head of a fawn colored dog with a hot spot next to its ear.
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Hot Spots in Pets

If you have never heard of hot spots or acute moist dermatitis, you are lucky. This is a horrible problem with certain dog breeds. It usually affects dogs with thick, long coats like a golden retriever, St. Bernard or German shepherd. It can be caused by a number of fixable situations. Long-haired cats are also prone to this malady.

Hot spots are extremely painful for your dog! These horrible skin eruptions may appear suddenly. It is a condition that can go indefinitely without being treated. It requires immediate medical care. While some home remedies will work, it is really best to see a veterinarian so antibiotics can be prescribed.

The veterinarian will shave the area and then thoroughly clean it with some antibacterial cleaning product like Nolvasan or Betadine. After the problem area is cleaned, it must dry. Once the skin is dry, an antibiotic steroid cream is applied. You might need to use an Elizabethan collar, or some other product, that will keep your dog from licking or chewing that spot. Elizabethan collars are a gigantic pain in the butt however, it is very important to allow the area to heal without being disturbed.

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Your veterinarian will probably also put the dog on a general oral antibiotic and maybe even an oral steroid. These medications will help eliminate the hot spot faster and keep it from coming back.

So, what causes these nightmarish hot spots?

One cause is stress. Keeping your dog stress-free and happy can go a long way toward his health in general. Stressful situations, where you dog is nervous, sick or frightened all of the time, can bring on all sorts of problems. Hot spots are just one of them.

Hot spots can be caused by an external parasite infestation like fleas, ticks or mites. The dog may nip or chew at his skin in order to try to ease the symptoms of the parasites. That can be the start of the skin irritation. This cause is so easy to prevent. Just by using the monthly flea preventative (which also helps eliminate ticks and other skin parasites), your dog can have two problems eliminated – the parasites and the hot spots.

Another common cause of hot spots is poor grooming. If the dog is long-haired or has a thick undercoat, clogged hair follicles can add to the problem. By keeping the dog clipped and groomed regularly, the loose hair is removed and the problems are removed along with it. If the dog swims or is out in pouring rain, make sure that he is dried thoroughly. Be certain any loose fur is taken away by brushing. Not only will you help the dog by preventing the hot spots, brushing can also be a great bonding time for a dog and its owner.

The main goal is to avoid hot spots in the first place. If your dog has never had them — good for you! You must be doing something right. However, if this has been a problem, you should address the grooming and parasite difficulties with your dog. Everyone, especially your “best friend,” will be happier in the long run.

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