Acute moist dermatitis, or hot spots, can develop and worsen in a blink of an eye. Contributing factors include moisture, trauma or inflammation.
A dog can develop hot spots in response to
- matted fur
- minor wounds
- insect bites
- excessive licking
- contact with an irritating substance
Anything that damages the skin equilibrium can cause a hot spot.
Make no mistake. Not only hot spots look nasty, but acute moist dermatitis is also a painful condition.
Just like our dogs used to, Max loves the country and it has the opportunity to spend time on a farm. He loves to play with his buddy and run through the fields and countryside. Life cannot get any better for a dog.
Usually, Max would arrive home, crash on his bed and fall asleep. This time, after his usual trip and exhausting himself with fun and play, something was different. Max was restless and couldn’t get comfortable. He seemed preoccupied with his neck area.
His mom figured Max might have a wound or foreign body in his ear and she made an evening appointment with their veterinarian.
Two hours later
Just within two hours, by the time they arrived at the clinic, Max developed a large, weeping sore behind his ear. All fur was gone and the skin was red and oozing.
Max was in pain and not happy at all.
Max’s diagnosis was easy—he was sporting a nasty hot spot. It can happen easily on a hot day, particularly in dogs with thick coats such as Golden Retrievers. It can take as little as a minor irritation to trigger a cascade of events that ends with such a nasty sore.
Typically, hot spots are caused by bacteria that normally live on the skin but get out of control when the defenses are down. Warmth and moisture add fuil to the fire, allowing the bacteria to multiply. The toxins the bacteria produce lead to further irritation and a tiny hot spot can blow up in no time.
As the dog’s natural instinct makes them scratch it, it only contributes to the problem.
Hot spots usually respond to treatment well and fast.
Max’s veterinarian clipped away fur around the affected area, applied a soothing, antibacterial ointment and prescribed antibiotics. Max was also sentenced to the dreaded e-collar to allow the skin to heal.
Max was in so much pain that he had to be sedated to get his hot spot cleaned. He also received a pain injection. Max should had been feeling much better the next day.
The next day
Bacterial infections like this usually respond to antibiotics very quickly. I have seen it many times. Max should have been doing better but he was not. There was no improvement whatsoever.
Fortunately, Max’s veterinarian was fast on his feet. Suspecting something was amiss, he took a swab from the skin and sent it to a lab for culture. At the same time, he changed Max’s antibiotics. He was suspecting a strain of bacteria resistant to the usual antibiotics. Because it was Friday, he didn’t want to take any chances.
The Monday after
When Max came back to the clinic for a follow-up appointment on Monday, he was the happy guy as usually. The skin looked much happier and was no longer tormenting Max.
The laboratory results confirmed the suspicion. Max managed to pick up a combination of two bacteria resistant to standard antibiotics. They did, fortunately, respond to the new medication.
Without Max’s veterinarian’s quick thinking, Max might have ended up in a veterinary ER over the weekend.
Within a week, Max was as good as new.
What triggered the chain of events? Something irritant? A nick from a plant or a bramble? An insect bite? That will have to remain a mystery.
The important thing is that all worked out well and hopefully Max will remain hot spot free for the rest of his life.