What are “Hot Spots” in Dogs?

The dog’s skin is the largest organ of the body, yet there is a very restricted number of ways in which it responds to trauma. “Hot Spots” or acute moist dermatitis are locations on the dog’s skin due to your dog’s itching, biting and scratching and may often arise quite suddenly. These places may become very large and may develop just about anywhere on the dog. I see it sometimes in the spring time once the temperatures are warmer as well as the humidity is high. The dogs with the thick undercoat, such as Labs, golden retrievers and rottweilers are susceptible to getting these spots on their face and neck. Typically, spots located at the base of the tail are very likely resulting from fleas simply because fleas choose to congregate in these areas. Quite a few dogs happen to be so hypersensitive to fleas, the bite of one flea is sufficient to induce the dog to itch all over. Almost any injury can begin the process which the dog then exacerbates by continual chewing and licking which in turn results in a vicious cycle and will cause the hot spot to spread.

The dog normally has bacteria that lives on their skin and so long as the skin is healthy, the microorganisms almost never result in any issues. However when something occurs, such as a fleabite, cut or allergies, the dog begins to lick, bite, chew and scratch which in turn disrupts the defensive layer of the skin. As soon as that takes place, the bacteria on the skin, as well as the germs in the mouth, set up housekeeping in the skin. This creates a swiftly spreading infection which may be quite painful. The area on the skin is red, raw and seems moist because the wound oozes serum and pus. The hair then mats down over the wound and the infection then spreads beneath the hair.

A visit to the veterinarian is usually called for. In many cases the fur must be clipped off to stop the spread of the infection. Sometimes, these hot spots are so painful, the dog may need to be sedated in order to have the region cleansed and shaved. Antibiotics are prescribed to take care of the infection and follow-up antibiotics are sent home. Sprays, ointments and medicated shampoos can also be prescribed to continue treatment at home.. For some dogs, a special collar may be used that can help deter the dog from chewing at the places.

The particular underlying reason for the insult should likewise be tackled. If fleas can be found, then year round flea control may be prescribed.(over-the-counter flea control is not recommended) Pollen, food, and other allergens can also precipitate an attack. Sometimes specific diets with essential fatty acids and a novel protein source for example salmon, lamb or venison may be recommended to help heal the skin. Blood and skin tests can be preformed to help discover what the dog is allergic to and special allergy injections or prescription diets is often given.

Check your dog daily for itchy spots and use flea control suggested by your veterinarian year round to help avert hot spots as a result of flea allergies. Daily grooming and brushing can keep mats from developing. If your dog is itching continuously, take him to the veterinarian to handle the itching before the infection can progress.

Pets Can Get Cancer

Cancer of the Liver

Cancer in the Liver

Pets are living longer now and like their humans, our pets are also getting diseases that are also common in our elderly. Cancer can also affect our pets. Some cancers, such as some forms of leukemia in cats, are caused by a virus, the Feline Leukemia virus. Some cancers may have a genetic or inheritable factor. Boxers tend to have a higher rate of cancer than other breeds of dogs and Golden Retrievers have a higher rate of lymphosarcomas. Some cancers may be due to our environment, insecticides or toxins.Caring for the Older Dog
As a pet owner, you may do the very best with your pet by providing the best food, nutritional supplements, preventative care such as heartworm prevention, vaccinations and wellness care, but still, your beloved pet can develop cancer. No one or no pet is immune to the probability, but diligent care and wellness exams can detect some cancers early when they are still treatable. One of the best preventatives is spaying and neutering your pet. In the female, each heat cycle releases the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which then activates the mammary glands. This in turn increases the risk of developing mammary cancer or breast cancer with each heat cycle. The current recommendation is to spay your pet before their first heat cycle or before 6 months of age which will reduce the risk of developing breast cancer to less than .05%. In the male, neutering reduces the hormones and can eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and reduce the risk of prostate and perianal cancers that can develop from the release of testosterone.

Semi-annual physical exams are recommended for pets over 7 years old. Small changes that may be overlooked by you can sometimes be found by your veterinarian. Small lumps and bumps that you may discover on your pet should be brought to your veterinarian’s attention. A simple needle aspirate of the lump can sometimes tell if it is a benign (harmless) tumor, or something more that warrants further investigation. Tumors in your pet’s mouth can also occur and your vet will often examine the mouth during the exam.

wellness_dog_geriatric-3Annual blood exams can give a baseline and any change in the blood work from year to year can help identify problems earlier. In some cases, I have had blood work in normal limits and have only found the cancer with radiographs (x-rays) or ultra-sound. Purchasing pet insurance will help defray the costs of diagnostics as your pet ages and can also cover surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy if your pet should develop cancer.

Cance Metastasis to the Lungs

Cancer Metastasis to the Lungs

Because pet insurance will not cover pre-existing problems, it is best to buy the insurance before your pet develops a problem. Some cancers when caught early are curable and many others can be put in remission and extend the life of your pet. Unlike human chemotherapy, pet chemotherapy is aimed at extending their life and making them comfortable, so many of the unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and hair loss are avoided.
Supplements containing anti-oxidants may help reduce cancer risks by freeing the body of the free-radicals that occur. Sam-e is another supplement that aids the liver and glucosamine and chondroitin help with joint health. No firm data has established if these supplements truly reduce developing cancer but they do not harm your pet either. Golden Years vitamins are designed for older pets and make an excellent supplement.
Develop a wellness plan with your veterinarian as your pet ages. Some pets can live as long as twenty years of age with a little help from you and your veterinarian.