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What is hot Spot?
A hot spot is a warm, painful, swollen patch of skin 1-4 inches (2.5 to 10 cms) across that exudes pus and gives off a foul odor. Your pet’s skin becomes irritated and starts itching, licking or both, eventually causing a red, ugly oozing sore. Hair in the area is lost rapidly. The infection progresses when the dog licks and chews the site. These circular patches appear suddenly and enlarge quickly, often within few hour.

General locations of hot spot
Hot spots can occur anywhere on the body, often in more than one spot. One very typical location is under the ear flaps in large breeds with heavy ears, such as Golden Retrievers and Labradors. The other common sites are the head, neck, hips and limbs.

When can hot spot occur?
Obviously, hot spots seem to be common in long-haired breeds and are more prevalent during summer months in time of high temperature and humidity. Hot spots occur mostly just before shedding, when moist, dead hair is trapped next to the skin. Fleas, mites, and other skin parasites, skin allergies, irritant skin diseases, ear and anal gland infections, and neglected grooming are other factors that can initiate the itch-scratch-itch cycle.

Symptoms of hot spots
• Inflamed, red and swollen localised patch on skin
• Itchy and painful patch
• Continual chewing or liking at site
• Crusted scab or oozing sore
• Moist, matted fur
• Foul odor from patch

Possible causes of initial irritation
• Flea allergy
• Food allergy
• Insect bite
• Chewing or licking due to stress or boredom
• Matted fur
• Ear infection
• Anal gland impaction
• Foreign objects on skin like thorns or splinters

How to diagnose a Hot Spot
If you notice your pet is showing symptoms of a hot spot, you may try to clean and treat it at home. Since hot spots are painful and can worsen within a matter of hours, it is advisable to visit a clinic to receive a proper treatment.

Treatment of hot spot
Hot spots are extremely painful. The dog will usually need to be sedated or anesthetised for the initial treatment. Your veterinarian will clip away hair to expose the hot spot, then gently cleanse the skin with a dilute Povidone-Iodine shampoo (Betadine) or a Chlorhexidine shampoo and allow the skin to dry. An antibiotic steroid cream or powder is then applied twice a day for 10 to 14 days. Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed. Predisposing skin problems must be treated as well.

Your veterinarian may also prescribe a short course of corticosteroids to control severe itching. Prevent the dog from traumatising the area by using an Elizabethan collar or a Bite-Not-Collar.
In hot humid weather, always be sure to dry your heavy-coated dog, thoroughly after bathing. Otherwise the conditions are perfect for a hot spot to develop. Essential fatty acids may be suggested for pets prone to skin condition.

Most cases resolve quickly if the initial irritant is addressed and the proper treatment regimen is followed. Healing may not be apparent for 1-2 weeks. Fur should begin to grow in 3-4 weeks.

Dr Sharad Singh Yadav is the Chairman of Advanced Pet Hospital & Research Centre which is open 24 hours throughout the year and located in Bishal Nagar, Kathmandu. He may be contacted on tel: 4422855 or email: aphktm@gmail.com