Hot Spot skin infections in dogs

Our clinic saw quite a few nasty skin infections in dogs following the recent floods - most had had some skin exposure to dirty flood water.

As these infections are normally seen in the hot summer months, it reminded us to write an article about how dog owners can recognise and help start to treat this nasty skin problem as soon as possible.

"Hot Spots" or superficial bacterial pyoderma are caused by Staphylococci bacteria. These bacteria are present on the skin normally, but under the right conditions they can very rapidly cause nasty skin lesions like those seen on the dog pictured.  For infection to occur you need a small break in the skin + moisture. In summer this is usually caused by a dog chewing at the site of a flea bite or other skin irritation - the bacteria then breach the normal skin defences and multiply rapidly. An expanding, painful infection occurs, characterised by thick yellow/green discharge and red swollen skin.

Often we are presented with these infections after they've already been present for several days, and we frequently need to sedate these patients to treat them as the skin lesions can be extremely painful. Treatment consists of clipping the fur from area widely (bad haircuts are us!) and scrubbing with an antibacterial lotion. Antibiotic treatment is also required.

So what can you do? The first step is to routinely treat your dog for fleas all year round, and feed a suitable diet to help keep their skin healthy and itch-free.  Secondly if a hot spot starts you can begin treatment at home to prevent a large infection.  Clip the hair away from the infection as much as possible and bathe the infection with salt water - NOT Dettol or Savlon, but don't get the surrounding hair wet as this spreads the infection.  

Make an appointment to see us at the clinic as soon as is practical so the spread of the problem is limited - antibiotics will be needed.