What is Hotspot and what can I do to prevent it?

What is Hotspot and what can I do to prevent it?

Hot spot in dogs and cats is called acute moist dermatitis, moist eczema or moist dermatitis. These are red, inflamed skin lesions that can vary in different degrees depending on how deep in the layers of the skin there is inflammation. There can be different reasons why hotspots occur. Hotspots can occur quickly and are often caused by something that has irritated the skin. The inflammation itself is the fault of the dog or cat, as it constantly licks or scratches a certain area. Hotspots are not contagious. They can be found anywhere on the body, but the most common places are the head, legs and hips where the animals can lick, bite or scratch. Hot spots are painful and itchy for your furry friend. The smelly sores can be very obvious, but be aware that they can also hide under matted fur, and it is therefore important to remove fur to be able to see the true extent of the inflammation. Hot spots are often seen in the longer-haired and/or thick-furred breeds.


What causes hot spots?

hot spot from licking cat and dog

As written earlier, the animals themselves are the obvious cause for the inflammation itself, because they constantly lick or scratch a certain area, but there can be many different underlying causes of hot spots, such as:

  • Allergies, including food allergies or inhalation allergies, which can provoke the itching.
  • Reactions to insect bites from fleas, mites or other small insects (eg larvae, bees, wasps, lice or mosquitoes).
  • Ear infection. Bacteria or yeast in the ear canal can be so irritating that the dog scratches the ear, creating hot spots on the earlobe, behind the ear or on the neck.
  • Poor fur care. Dogs can bite so much into matted and unkempt fur that it can create open wounds. Matt, dense fur prevents air from reaching the skin and retains water after a swim or walk in the rain, keeping the skin wet. This creates a perfect environment for a hot spot.
  • Boredom. Dogs can develop bad habits, just like us humans. Instead of biting nails, the dog licks areas that are easily accessible, which unfortunately can also develop into hot spots.
  • Orthopedic problems. Dogs with arthritis or back problems tend to lie down a lot of the time. Lying a lot on one side can cause wear and tear on the hips or hocks (ankles), where the bones have less muscular padding, especially in older dogs with decreasing muscle mass. When the dog licks the abrasion, the hot spot can break out. Dogs also lick or chew on degenerating joints, just as people rub a sore knee to relieve the pain, which can create hot spots in the process.
  • Anal gland inflammation. Infected or affected anal glands are painful and irritating. Dogs lick the area around the rectum and can cause hot spots under or on top of the tail.
  • Young animals can use licking to calm themselves during the period when the hormones really kick in and the stress with the hormones starts.

The hot spot can increase in size in a very short time

hotspot licking wound dog cat

Hotspot is caused by an irritation of the superficial nerve endings in the skin due to constant licking. This licking stimulates itching followed by more licking, biting and itching, which turns into a lick-itch-lick cycle that the dog or cat has a hard time getting out of without help. Hotspots grow in size in a very short time and it is therefore important to stop the cycle as quickly as possible. A dog may have a little redness in a certain place in the morning, which by the end of the day has developed into a lesion the size of a pancake if the dog is not stopped from licking.

What can you do to prevent hot spots

To prevent hot spots, it is a good idea to keep the fur dry and free of tangled hair. Check that your little friend do not have parasites (fleas, lice or ticks), or have small wounds, which could be the start of a hot spot.

It can be difficult to prevent the dog from bathing in the summer. A coat that feels dry on the surface may still be soaked to the skin, so make sure to dry the dog thoroughly, especially after salt water.

If it's to late

dog sock hot spot prevent

It is important to get the dog or cat to stop licking or scratching it, so that the wound can be allowed to heal.
In the early stage of the hot spot, the inflammation can sometimes be stopped and treated. It is important to have the wound cut and washed so that the extent of the inflammation becomes clear. There are several different agens that contain active ingredients such as chlorhexidine or covaline that can be appleid.  

For a hotspot in the start face we recommend the silver ointment from B&B , after testing it ourselves on a hot spot on a paw with full effect. The ointment's good effect is due to the colloidal silver found in this ointment having antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been used as a natural antibiotic before modern antibiotics took their place. The ointment also has a helpful effect on itching and irritation, due to the cooling aloe verae and it is more gentle than chlorhexidine. In addition, you can wash the dog in B&B's silver shampoo or/and use their silver water, which are fantastic products for prevention, with great benefits.

For a full blow-up hotspot we would recommend Bacxitium!! You can read more about Bacxitium in the blog about it. But here is the test we did with the Bacxitium on a bad hotspot. Day 1 to day 7.

One importen thing is definitely to stop paw licking or scratching. You can do this with a sock on the affected paw or a cone around the head. But remember that a treatment is needed to remove the wound itself.

When should the vet be contacted?

Sometimes it may be necessary to have some pain reliever or anti-itch and a collar on. The vet should be contacted if your own treatment does not work within 1-2 days and if the infection spreads. In addition, the vet MUST be contacted if pain is evident, because this is a very painful inflammation.


The treatment at the vet

The treatment primarily consists of shaving away the fur above the skin change with a margin of several centimeters around the wound. The hot spot can be quite painful, so it may be necessary to give the dog something soothing before shaving and treatment. In some cases, local treatment in the form of disinfecting shampoo, local anti-itch gel and a screen will be sufficient. The dog should wear a screen to prevent it from licking and scratching the wound and worsening the condition. In other cases, the vet will take a sample for culture and subsequently put the dog on antibiotics in the form of tablets. Often the dog must have painkillers afterwards.

If the dog gets recurrent skin infections, it must then be investigated. 

The underlying cause of the hot spotand treatment:

  • If the hot spot is formed as a result of anal glands being affected, they must be drained.
  • If the cause is a flea allergy, a flea remedy will be necessary to prevent and treat fleas.
  • If arthritis is the culprit, your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or other pain relievers.
  • For inhalant or food allergies, your vet can help you begin avoidance or desensitization therapy and may recommend a hypoallergenic diet.
  • For ear infections, the underlying yeast or bacteria will be treated.
  • If boredom or behavior problems are the cause of your dog traumatizing himself, the help of a behavioral therapist may sometimes be necessary.
  • If poor care of the fur is the cause, you can seek a professional who knows how to treat the fur of your specific dog.

Be aware that even if the underlying cause is treated, the dog or cat may well continue to lick/scratch/bite, as it quickly becomes a habit for the animals. Therefore, it may take a few days to a few weeks before they stop licking. It is therefore important to help stop the cycle and not panic that it did not stop as you expected.

A final word

Remember, if you are in doubt, always contact your vet to get the best advice if you suspect your animal has contracted a hotspot. Do NOT wait for it to go away on its own - it need some kind of treatment from you or your vet.

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