I thought that I would follow up my post on ear infections with some information on "hot spots" as these two issues are often caused by the same underlying problem.
What are "hot spots"?- A "hot spot" is basically a localized skin infection. Typically the owner will notice an area of matted fur or a lesion that is oozing pus that appeared very suddenly. The skin will be very red an inflamed.
What causes "hot spots"?- "Hot spots" are localized bacterial skin infections usually caused by Staphylococcus spp. Typically what happens is the skin becomes inflamed and the bacteria that are normally found on the skin invade and cause an infection.
What causes the skin to become inflamed?- There are 3 common causes of the initial inflammation of the skin: 1) Moist skin- this is similar to the cause of ear infections. The skin becomes moist (bath, swimming, heat). If the dog has dense fur, then this area doesn't dry properly and the moist skin becomes inflamed allowing the bacterial invasion; 2) Fleas- The skin becomes inflamed from either the flea bites or the dog scratching; 3) Ear infections- Often times a hot spot will develop under the ear due to the either the dog digging at their ear or from the discharge coming out of the ear.
How do you treat "Hot spots"?- The main treatment is to allow the skin to dry. This is accomplished by shaving the fur from around the lesion. Once the fur is removed, then the air can circulated over the skin and dry it out. The next thing is to thoroughly clean the area. Most of the time the dog will also need oral antibiotics in order to heal the infection.
"Hot spots" can spread very rapidly. The are very painful and can cause nasty looking lesions. It is very important that you get the "hot spot" taken care of as soon as you notice that it is there.