Itching, biting, scratching, skin, hot spot, bacteria, scab, flea, arthritis, allergies, infection, exam, antibiotics, ointment, spray
Itching, biting, scratching, it is enough to drive a dog crazy. Though the skin is the largest organ of the body, it has a very limited number of ways in which it can respond to insults. One of the most painful ways is with a hot spot.
Hot spots are areas of self-trauma. A dog can cause one in a very short amount of time. They can be very extensive and involve large swaths of skin. They can occur at any time of year to any age or any breed of dog. Most commonly they are found in dogs that have a dense undercoat and during times of high humidity.
Animals normally have bacteria on their skin. It rarely causes any problems. But once a pet starts to scratch and bite, causing the surface of the skin to be breached, the bacteria on the surface as well as that found in its mouth, penetrate under the skin and set up an infection.
It is not uncommon for a dog owner to have noticed that their pet was a bit more pruritic, itchy, but not to think too much of it. It is not until the area becomes smelly, painful and crusted over by a combination of dried pus, dead skin and hair that they realize that a trip to the veterinarians is in order.
Dogs can be like small children. They get an itch and they scratch. Now it hurts, so they scratch more. You can see how this leads to a vicious cycle. Where the pet is bothering itself, can give the doctor a clue as to the inciting agent. Dogs that chew over their haunches may be suffering from fleabite dermatitis. Some dogs are so sensitive to these external parasites that it may take only one or two bites to set off this sequence of events. A dog with arthritis of the lower spine or hips may also self traumatize this area.
If you find that the hot spot is located on a limb, your veterinarian may suspect inhaled allergies. An area of moist dermatitis by the ear could indicate an ear infection.
Treatment for a hot spot will depend on its severity. Because they can be very painful, sedation and sometimes even anesthesia may be required. Antibiotics to control the infection, pain control medication, topical ointments or sprays as well as anti-inflammatory drugs and collars that keep a pet from causing further damaging the area are generally prescribed.
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