Is there a medication to prevent hot spots? My dog gets them and we treat them with a topical spray if we catch them, but I would like to prevent them in the first place.
“Hot spots”, as they are sometimes referred to, are a form of acute moist dermatitis and scientifically called pyotraumatic dermatitis by us veterinary types. As the names would indicate, this is a condition of the skin that appears suddenly and is exacerbated by an intense itch-scratch-itch response. The spots can occur anywhere on the body and may be singular or multiple in nature. They can vary by starting out in size from being as small as a quarter, but can rapidly increase to the size of softball (or larger) due to the intense scratching. These spots can extremely painful. Dogs with thick or dense coats are particularly predisposed to these. They can be somewhat seasonal in their appearance, occurring just before a large shed of the coat or related to allergy season or the appearance of skin parasites. Dogs that get moist dead hair trapped next to the skin are especially likely to develop this condition.
It is common to see hot spots in practice, although the individual dogs that do get these have a very high likelihood to be “repeat offenders” so I can understand your logic on wanting to be proactive in your approach to prevention. Treatment involves clipping and cleaning the area(s) involved and initiating corticosteroid and antibiotic therapy to decrease the intense inflammation and subsequent infection of the skin that is associated with these spots. While there is no specific prevention to the development of hot spots, as you might expect, preventing some of the associated factors sure can’t hurt.
Regular bathing with a colloidal oatmeal shampoo and vigilant grooming can help soothe the skin and rid the dense under coat. Be particularly aware of preventing fleas. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends year around flea prevention. CAPC has a great pet owner website that I would highly recommend you visit: www.petsandparasites.org. It is a non-profit organization of veterinarians and parasitologists that is dedicated to protecting your family and your pets from parasites and zoonotic diseases (these are diseases that can be passed from pets to people).
Something that is often taken for granted or overlooked is the level of nutrition that your pet is receiving on a daily basis. Feeding a good diet that provides the skin and hair coat with an excellent source of protein (which is basically what the hair coat is made of) and essential fatty acids (or even supplementation with these) can be helpful as well. I can tell a lot about the nutrition a pet is receiving by looking at the hair coat. A shiny coat indicates a higher level of nutrition than a dull, dry coat.
Since this is how and where hot spots start, these are good places to address prevention. Best of luck with this often times frustrating and painful condition.
Dr. Revoir’s veterinary opinion should only be used as an educational guide and in no way should be substituted for licensed veterinary care. Your veterinarian should be consulted in all health matters involving your pet.