|Photograph of a Bichon Frisé - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
“Hot spots” are surface skin infections caused when populataions of normal skin bacteria grow and overwhelm normal resistance. They ae generally curcular patches that lose hair, can be swollen, in extreme cases may exude smelly pus, and can be painfully itchy causing the dog to scratch, lick, or bite to the point of self mutilation. Untreated hot spots can spread and provoke a normally even-tempered dog to growl or nip when touched.
Dogs most susceptible to hot spots are those with heavy coats and histories of allergies, ear infections, fles infestations, iritated anal sacs and grooming problems such as hair tangles and mats. The most common location for hot spots is the legs, feet, flanks and rump. These localized infections can also appear on the ears, neck, and chest if the dog is continually scratching.
To treat hot spots trim the hair around the sore to prevent further spread of the infection and expose the edges of the lesion. Wash the area in a mild water-based astringent or antiseptic. Thjee are over-the-counter products to deter the dog from licking and chewing. The #1 product for most breeders and handlers is called “tea tree spray” or melaluca alternifolia. It is supposed to have healing qualities as well as discouraging the dg from biting or licking himself due to the bad taste.
I also use a product called Sulfodene which specifically for hot spots. I have had good results with this and it can be purchased almost anywhere that sells pet products. (Department stores, grocery stores, etc.) If treated early hot spots may disappear in day or two. Sulfodene is a good early treatment product. Or, medicated powder. Dust the spot several times a day to dry any moisture and soothe the itch. This can also be purchased over-the-counter.
Creams and ointments are not recommended because they can seal in the infection and hinder recobery. Although, a prescribed ointment may be necessary if the area becomes infected. At this stage the hot spot needs to checked bya veternarian for treatament. Some pet owners demand a quick fix for the problem and aren’t tolerent of vets who require return visits. Some vets will give you that quick fix by prescribing steroids for allergies. This quick fix is called “Prednisone”. However, you are setting your Bichon up for serious problems later in life if you do this repeatedly. If you use the Prednisone do so sparingly. Once or twice a month during allergy season followed by antihitamines.
A steroid given over and over can affect the balance of cortisol in the dog resulting in a condition called “Cushings Syndrome”.
Author: Janet Combs