As we wave goodbye to winter our thoughts turn to a hot summer and Christmas! Unfortunately, increases in temperature bring more than just beach days and barbecues. As the weather warms up, we often see an increase in the number of pets suffering from itchy or infected skin.
One of the most common skin diseases we see is called pyoderma, or a ‘hot spot’. This is a bacterial infection involving the surface layer of your pet’s skin. The skin is often very red and moist – and the wounds are very itchy! They can be found anywhere on the body and can range in size from a five-cent piece to very large areas of involved skin.
For a hot spot to develop there needs to be some trauma or damage to the surface layer of the skin, which exposes the deeper layers that are more vulnerable to infection. Following this compromise in skin defence, bacteria invades the area and grows out of control. The growth of bacteria causes further inflammation in the skin and the wounds can increase in size quickly – often overnight! The type of bacteria involved in these wounds is often found in the normal skin microflora – it is only when the skin is damaged that it causes a problem.
Common hot spot triggers include
- Swimming and bathing – skin that is wet for long periods is prone to infection
- Insect bites including fleas and mosquitoes
- Allergies causing animals to scratch or chew at themselves
- Rub sores from collars or harnesses
- In rare cases there may be a hormonal or metabolic cause for a poor skin barrier such as thyroid disease
Hot spots can cause significant discomfort to your pet but fortunately they can be treated easily. A consultation with your veterinarian is required to assess the wound and make an appropriate treatment plan. Your pet will be given a full check-up to identify any underlying health problems or other skin issues – often there may be another hot spot or an ear infection happening at the same time!
Usually the vet will treat the area by clipping the surrounding hair (often a good bacterial reservoir!) and cleaning it with an appropriate disinfectant. With very large or painful hot spots this process may require prior administration of sedative or pain relief medication to your pet to minimise their discomfort. After this a prescription cream will be applied that contains an antibacterial ingredient and cortisone which will soothe the skin and give your pet some relief! Antibiotic tablets or cortisone tablets may also need to be prescribed. If your pet has an underlying allergy or other health condition this will also need to be investigated and addressed.
So, if you notice your pet is excessively itchy and see something on the skin that isn’t quite right – please give us a call on 8373 0301 and help us give your companion some relief!