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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

What Are Hot Spots and What Can You Do About Them?


Your dog or cat can develop hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, due to a combination of moisture and bacteria on her skin. As the condition becomes more bothersome, you will notice her licking, scratching, or biting her skin to try to relieve the discomfort. This only makes the problem worse. Some of the most common causes of hot spots include lack of grooming, flea allergies, mange, food allergies, and tick bites.
Hot spots can be more of a problem during the hot and humid months of summer. The excess moisture on your pet’s skin provides a warm, moist place for bacteria to multiply. Be sure to groom your pet consistently and to check his skin for signs that he could be developing a hot spot.

Symptoms of Hot Spots in Dogs and Cats
Companion animals with hot spots typically have at least a few of these symptoms:
  • Pus build-up or oozing from a sore
  • Swelling not otherwise explained
  • Constant chewing, licking, and other attempts to relieve the discomfort
  • Raised or red lesions
  • Brown or red coloring in or around the area
  • Odor coming from the area of the hot spot
If you notice any of these signs, please contact us to schedule an immediate evaluation for your pet.
Treat Hot Spots and Preventing Future Outbreaks
The best way to prevent your pet from developing hot spots in the first place is to keep her skin healthy. This includes regular grooming and year-round parasite protection. Your pet’s fur is more likely to attract moisture if it’s matted, which in turn can attract parasites. Sometimes the excess scratching, biting, and licking is due to a behavioral cause rather than a medical one. In either case, the staff at Minnesota Veterinary Hospital can help you develop a treatment plan.
The first thing we do for an animal with hot spots is to trim the fur around it and clean the area using a mild anesthetic. Cortisone cream may be useful if your pet has severe itching. We have a wide range of flea and tick, grooming, and other products that can help you treat and prevent your pet’s hot spots in our online store. Summer is short enough as it is. Make sure your pet has a fun and safe summer by treating hot spots right away.

Pets Get Allergies and Asthma Too

It’s prime allergy season, which is why the National Asthma and Allergy Foundation chose May for its awareness campaign. National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month was designed with humans in mind, but it’s a great opportunity for pet owners to learn more about the prevention, symptoms, and treatment of these conditions as well.
Signs of Asthma in Dogs and Cats
The cases of asthma in companion animals is growing because of their increased exposure to pollution in the environment. Cats are far more likely to develop the condition than dogs. However, many people don’t recognize the symptoms as asthma because they assume their cat is trying to cough up a hairball. Some of the most common triggers of asthma in pets include:
Household dust and dust from cat litter
  • Pollen from trees and grass
  • Fumes from car exhaust
  • Mold and mildew
  • Fireplace and tobacco smoke
  • Chemicals and household sprays, such as perfume and cleaning products
Your pet will cough and wheeze when she is experiencing a flare-up of asthma, but displays no symptoms in between bouts. If your dog or cat develops severe asthma, she will cough, wheeze, pant constantly, and breathe with an open mouth every day. Left untreated, these chronic symptoms can be life-threatening. It’s common for pet parents to confuse asthma symptoms with kennel cough, which is why seeking immediate treatment is so important.

Typical Allergies in Pets
Allergies in companion animals typically fall into one of these four categories:
  • Food: An allergy to food can develop at any age and isn’t necessarily due to a diet change. Wheat, soy, beef, and chicken are among the most common ingredients in commercial pet food that cause allergy symptoms. If your pet requires a prescription diet, you can order the food in our online store.
  • Fleas: Some dogs and cats are especially sensitive to flea saliva. If your pet is allergic to it, he may scratch himself to the point of drawing blood due to severe skin irritation.
  • Contact: Allergy triggers in this category include anything that touches your pet’s skin, such as shampoo.
  • Inhalant: Pollen, dust, and smoke are all examples of inhalant allergy triggers. Your pet develops a reaction after breathing them in.
You can usually tell when a person has allergies due to frequent sneezing, a stuffy nose, or watery eyes. It isn’t always as obvious with pets. Your dog or cat will likely lick or scratch herself excessively to try to get rid of the discomfort. Unfortunately, this can cause additional irritation to the skin that could lead to an infection.
How to Help Your Pet with Allergies or Asthma
Please contact Minnesota Veterinary Hospital right away if your notice excessive scratching or licking, wheezing, or coughing in your dog or cat. We will evaluate your pet by asking about his home environment and diet and then run some laboratory tests. This helps us isolate the cause of the symptoms. Most pets with allergies or asthma respond well to medications used to treat their condition. You may need to make minor changes at home also, such as switching food brands or making sure no one smokes around your pet.

How to Have a Happy and Healthy Summer with Your Pet

The start of summer in Minnesota comes with great excitement for everyone. You have more opportunities to spend time outdoors with the people and animals you love. Dogs in particular want to do everything that you do, such as camping in a state park or going for a swim. Before you get out there and enjoy the great outdoors with your pet, make sure that he is ready for all of the adventure. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, your first stop should be the veterinarian.
Schedule Your Summer Check-Up with Minnesota Veterinary Clinic
Just as people should visit the doctor before starting a diet or any major lifestyle change, you should bring your pet in prior to engaging her in any strenuous activity. This is especially important for older animals who may be just beginning to show signs of osteoarthritis. It's also essential for your pet to be up-to-date on all vaccines, especially for rabies. You don't want your pet’s encounter with a raccoon, fox, or other wild animal in the woods to give her a deadly disease.
Controlling parasites is especially important in the warmer months. An infected tick could transmit Lyme disease to your dog or cat with a single bite. Fleas and heartworm are other common parasites that can ruin your pet’s health this summer. Heartworm disease can even be fatal in severe cases. If you’re not certain which parasite prevention products to use, just ask one of our veterinarians for a recommendation.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
When you pack a first aid kit for your family, don't forget about preparing one for your pet. This should include supplies for wound care and removing any visible parasites. Also, keep in mind that companion animals don't release excess body heat as efficiently as humans do. When traveling, you need to bring a water dish and make sure that your pet always has access to clean drinking water. Also, never leave your pet in a hot car even for a minute and even with the window cracked.
Because dogs and cats can slip away quickly in the excitement and confusion of a family vacation, make sure that yours has proper identification. If your pet already wears a collar and tag, considering having a microchip implanted before you leave home. This greatly increases the odds that he will return to you safely.
When Your Pet Can't Come with You
While you enjoy spending time with your pet, it's not always possible to include her in vacation plans. Cats, who are notorious creatures of habit, typically have no interest in that type of disruption. At Minnesota Veterinary Clinic, we have boarding facilities catering to each pet's individual needs. Be sure to reserve your spot as soon as you know the dates of your vacation since we fill up quickly in the summer months.