Dreaded Hotspots In Canines
by Sandy Herzon
(As submitted to Canine Life Magazine 1999)
Just hearing the word "hotspots" sends a chill up my spine. The topic of hotspots ranks high with other fearful conditions, things like "mange", "ticks", "kennel cough", and "the IRS", all are dreadful and well worth learning how to either avoid or eliminate from your environment.
Hotspots start out as small breaks in the upper dermal layers. A tiny scratch, an insect bite, gnawing at an itchy spot or even rough play between two sharp toothed puppies can spell the prelude to the next step in the formation of a hotspot. Any area in the skin that is open, acts like a neon sign, inviting bacteria to set up house and multiply like the demons they are.
Worse than a wild fire, the bacteria begin to spread both sideways and deeper into underlying layers of skin. The dogs immune system goes to work to combat the intrusion of these foreign bodies, but not before the area becomes swollen, red and usually puss-filled. Left untreated, it grows from the size of a pinpoint to the size of a quarter in less than a couple of hours and without intervention, up to two inches in diameter in less than 12 hours.
Although undocumented, nerves seem to play a conspirator's role in the development of the hotspots. I've witnessed a relatively small area, about a 1/4 of an inch, spread to about 2 inches right before my very own eyes, well maybe I blinked a few times in between. There didn't appear to be any other causes present, other than anxiety stress and nervousness. Before long the area was very red, swollen and eventually exuding puss-like fluid. Along with bacteria setting in and causing an apparent infection, with these cases it looked like a severe allergic reaction was taking place.
The quicker the action taken, the better the outcome for the recovery of the area, without too much hair loss or other long range signs. The first step is to disinfect the area with hydrogen peroxide. Apply liberally; let stand for a couple of minutes and then pat dry with a towel. Since bacteria are members of the fungal family, for years we have been using Desenex Foot Spray to combat the bacteria topically. Not only does it kill bacteria, but also it keeps the area dry and the dog is not as likely to lick the spot, since apparently it doesn't taste very good. We have been using a mixture of Desitin Zinc Oxide rash ointment added to Gold Bond Zinc Oxide powder on the area.
If swelling is present, then an allergic reaction is very suspect. Benadryl Allergy pills are easily available. We give a full-grown dog the same dosage a small child would take.
Antibiotics are also indicated, with the cephalexin group, Keftabs and Clavamox usually being the favorites of most Veterinarians for skin infections, Gentocin spray topically is also indicated, however consult with your Vet. when administering any prescription medication. Your Vet might also prescribe some type of anti-inflammatory medicine like Rimadyl, Dexamethasone or Prednazone.
Prevention always is the best alternative to having to treat problems. By keeping our Labs as healthy as possible, their immune system usually will ward off the majority of skin ailments. Keeping in mind that the first line of defense for our dogs is their coat and skin, maintaining those two outer layers of defense as healthy as possible will go along way in the battle against most skin outbreaks.
Labrador Retrievers need more high quality protein and high quality sources of fat, that is also high soluble and easily digested in their diets, than most other breeds of dogs. Just like they need more protein to maintain their higher energy levels, high quality fat provides the dog with the nutrients to promote healthy skin and coat.
There are many excellent commercial dog foods on the market that Labradors will do well on. However keep in mind that these foods are formulated for all breeds and it is up to the individual breed owner to supplement their breed with those nutrients that are desirable or needed by their own breed.
Since we began to supplement our Labradors with the rice bran (Lab Glo), and multiple ingredient supplement (Lab Forte), the incident rate of "hotspots" seems to have almost disappeared. In the past 8 years, skin problems have dwindled to only the usual accidental cuts, scratches and abrasions normally encountered with our high active and inquisitive breed.
The rice bran is one of the best plant source of essential fatty acids available. It is easily digested and is utilized to the max by the dog's digestive system. Lab Glo rice bran is 100% natural with no preservatives and comes in a fine meal form. We give 2 teaspoons to all our dogs.
Lab Forte Multiple Vitamin and Mineral Supplement is also made with 100% natural ingredients and contains no harmful preservatives. We give the dogs an extra teaspoon added to their daily food to boost their immune system.
Within months of the rice bran Lab Forte additives, almost all the Labs had a fuller, thicker and shinier coat. Evidence of healthier and more resistance towards outside intrusions by bacteria and all the other little organisms just waiting for the opportunity to set up house on our dogs.
Other products that seem to have worked for some of our client's Labs, have been Lipidermâ , Theralinâ and Linatoneâ supplements. Most of these products are available at any pet store. The rice bran, fishmeal and multiple vitamin can be ordered directly from LabWell's Labrador Retriever Health Food Store under the Lab-Well label as Lab Glo, and Lab Forte. Desenexâ Foot Spray, Benadrylâ and hydrogen peroxide can be purchased at any drug store or super market. A Veterinarian should prescribe the prescription medication mentioned above. All products mentioned above should be used with caution, read all labels and follow the instructions. If in doubt about the use of any product, use common sense where applicable.
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