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This condition is a common occurrence in the canine species (dogs)  and occasionally in the feline species (cats).

The actual causative agent is bacteria called ‘Staphylococcal aureus’ and this bacteria lives on the normal skin and only becomes a problem when there has been a break in the immune system.

The lesion can develop within hours and is characterised by the loss of hair, it is usually intensely itchy and the skin around the lesion is usually reddened.

The animal is very sensitive in this area and may even become aggressive if the owner or others try to touch the ‘hot spot’

The lesion is usually relatively shallow but in some cases, the lesion can extend down the full depth of the skin and becomes ulcerated very swiftly. The infection spreads in a lateral direction very rapidly and I have seen many cases that started the same size as a twenty cent piece, but within 24hrs  that same lesion can now cover the entire side of the animal.

Conditions that are usually associated with the start of a hot spot include the following;

  • hot humid conditions
  • dense hair coats
  • breaks in the skin as from some other form of trauma
  • anal gland impaction
  • flea allergies
  • infections of the ear and/including the canal
  • some mite
  • allergic reactions to substances in the air or food

The hot spot is usually treated successfully as long as the area is clipped and scrubbed and your pet is placed on antibiotics for at least 10 days, and in some cases, the animal may be given cortico steroids to stop the self-mutilation.

The hardest part of treating the condition is not the medication but establishing the reason why the condition started in the first place so that the preventative actions can be put in place. In a lot of cases, this last part is very difficult and unless the animal has many outbreaks of the problem then my advice to most of my clients is to just react to the problem if and when it occurs.

It is always my advice that an animal with a developing pyotraumatic dermatitis should be taken to the vet as soon as possible – the sooner we start the appropriate treatment then the cheaper it is for the owner and the better it is for the animal

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