Ask the Vets
By Dr. Kim Anderka and Dr. Christina Douthwaite
Our golden retriever gets so many hot spots when we are up at the cottage. Is there anything we can do to prevent this from happening?
Oh dear, this can be a frustrating and uncomfortable problem. Hot spots are known as moist or pyotraumatic dermatitis. They look like red, hot, oozing areas of inflammation on the skin and are usually itchy and/or painful. The Golden Retriever is one of the breeds that are prone to these infections. They are usually caused by a trigger event that starts the dog licking or scratching at their skin. These triggers can be external parasites (fleas, mites, insect stings or bites), allergies or an injury to the skin. Existing bacterial or yeast skin infections can also lead to scratching, licking or chewing behaviour. Once the skin becomes damaged, the dog’s surface bacteria enter into the deeper layers of the skin and develop into an infection. Hot spots can spread very rapidly as the dog continues to traumatize the skin further. The longer fur on a golden retriever is also likely to mat and stick to the inflamed area which allows it the infection to spread quickly.
Make sure your dog is groomed on a regular basis. Regular swimming and chronically damp fur can lead to softening of the skin and predispose your dog to these infections especially if any matted areas are present. For dogs prone to skin issues, have your groomer do a summer/short clip that will allow the fur to dry out, and remove any matting. If you don’t want to shave your dog down from head to toe, consider spot clipping your dog’s fur in areas such as the belly, chest, armpits and behind the ears where air circulation is limited.
A work up and discussion on possible underlying allergies with your veterinarian is also recommended. If allergy is the predisposing cause, treatment for food or environmental allergies can decrease the inflammation in the skin, which in turn, decreases the secondary infections.
See your veterinarian at the first sign of a hot spot to prevent it from becoming a serious deep skin infection. When a hot spot is brewing, the fur overlying the area should be shaved and the surface of the skin cleaned. Depending on the severity, size and depth of infection, your veterinarian may prescribe oral antibiotics, pain medication, or topical sprays/medication. Using an Elizabethan collar (E collar) to prevent further self-trauma and spread of the infection is a very important part of the treatment protocol.
Supplementing Omega 3 fatty acids and topical natural products such as Dermoscent and Douxo can help to build and strengthen the skin barrier. There are many different products that can also be used in chronic cases by the owner at first sight of a brewing hotspot. Ensure your dog is also receiving regular prevention for external parasites. Your veterinarian can help you decide what is best for your dog to prevent a summer full of uncomfortable skin infections. We wish you a wonderful summer at your cottage.