Causes, symptoms and natural treatment of your pet's hot spots
Have you ever wondered why your cat or dog may be persistently licking or scratching themselves? If you've ruled out fleas being the cause, it's likely that your pet may have hot spots!
What are hot spots?
Hot spots (also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis, moist dermatitis, superficial pyoderma or summer sores) are a bothersome skin condition that can affect your pets. Hot spots occur when an animal's natural bacteria overpopulates parts of their skin, causing skin irritations. The animal scratches or licks those areas excessively which eventually forms a wet, inflamed and painful scab!
It goes without saying that no good fur parent would want to see their pet suffering from hot spots. If left untreated, your pet's hot spots will worsen and the surrounding areas of skin will rapidly deteriorate.. poor fur baby! To avoid this happening, we're going to teach you what causes hot spots so that you may prevent them from reoccurring in the future, and how to treat the hot spots naturally!
(Note: Most vets will turn to antibiotics, cortisone injections, Betamethasone sprays or hydrocortisone creams to treat hot spots. Many of these conventional treatment methods come with a list of unwanted side effects, some being pretty serious! If you'd like to avoid putting your pet at risk of a weakened immune system, kidney problems, nerve damage or any further complications, you may want to think about treating their hot spots naturally - side effect free! We'll outline natural and safe hot spot treatments further down below.).
Symptoms of hot spots
Before we dive into the science behind hot spots, let's look at the signs and symptoms of hot spots. If your pet is displaying the symptoms of hot spots, you may want to take them to the vet to confirm the condition.
Your pet may be suffering from hot spots if they display the following signs:
- Constantly licking, scratching or chewing a particular area of skin
- They seem agitated, restless or even aggressive when you try touch them
- Evident localised patches of inflamed, red, and swollen skin
- Scaly, crusty and oozing sores on their skin
- The fur around the affected area is matted and appears moist
- Patches of fur are missing or falling out
- They may even present symptoms of depression due to the pain
Causes of hot spots
As previously mentioned, hot spots occur when an animal's natural bacteria overpopulates parts of their skin, causing skin irritations! The bacterial overpopulation is not the direct cause of the hot spots, but rather the animal's obsessive licking and scratching of the affected area, which eventually leads to inflamed, oozing lesions known as hot spots. But what could cause an overpopulation of bacteria in the first place? Well, there are various possible root causes of hot spots!
If you ever took Biology as a subject in school, you may remember what constitutes an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive in. Bacteria flourish in damp, warm and moist environments. It is then no surprise that hot spots tend to be more common in animals with thicker coats, where dirt and moisture are easily trapped - bacteria will be more than happy to set up home here! Pets who love to swim, roll around in dirt or who are not regularly groomed are more likely to experience an overpopulation of bacteria on their skin. Additionally, a weakened immune system that is not able to properly fight bacterial infections may contribute to the development of bacterial overpopulation and hot spots.
Other causes of hot spots in pets:
- Insect bites, including fleas
- Cuts, wounds, abrasions or thorns
- Ear infections or anal gland infections
- Anxiety (OCD chewing, scratching and licking themselves as a form of self-soothing)
- Allergy-prone pets (animals who suffer from allergies usually display symptoms on their skin, e.g. rashes)
How to naturally relieve and treat your pet's hot spots
There are a number of natural and safe ways to treat your pet's hot spots. The following method is an alternative to vets' conventional methods, which as previously mentioned, may do more damage than good (especially long term).
- Trim: In order to treat the hot spot, trim or remove the hair around the affected area. Removing the hair and exposing it to air will help to dry out the moisture and promote quicker healing. If you don’t remove the hair, the hot spot may worsen, become infected and then take much longer to heal!
- Disinfect: Cleaning the wound with a natural disinfectant shortens healing and recovery time and prevents complications like further infection.
- Soothe: Give your pet some relief from all the itching, pain and irritation with a natural anti-itch balm, formulated specifically for hot spots (and other skin conditions such as ringworm, rashes and fungal infections). By soothing the hot spots, your pet will finally stop scratching, licking and chewing at the affected areas.
- Protect: You may want to take a further step to prevent your pet from scratching, licking or chewing at their hot spots by placing a cone around their neck.
How to prevent future hot spots:
- Groom: It's important to make sure your dog or cat is well groomed, particularly during the summer season! Pets with thicker hair are at greater risk of developing hot spots, so have their fur shaved at the groomers to prevent any moisture developing on the skin.
- Prevent fleas: Use a natural flea treatment program regularly to control fleas and prevent flea allergy dermatitis.
- Relax your pet: Some pets may obsessively chew, scratch and lick themselves as a method of self-soothing. If your pet is highly strung, anxious or stressed, PetCalm is a 100% homeopathic remedy which helps soothe any emotional upsets and keep them in a relaxed state of mind.
- Boost their immune system: Support a healthy immune system in dogs and cats with a natural immunity tonic for pets. Should their skin's condition be compromised, their immune system will be able to properly fight off bacterial overpopulation, thus reducing the risk of developing hot spots!
- Manage their allergies: Get your pet on a natural and effective allergy treatment plan! Without managing their allergies, it's likely that their skin rashes (which can eventually develop into hot spots) will reoccur.
- Please note – as with any other home treatment, you should always consult your vet if symptoms worsen or do not improve with home treatment.
If you have any health-related questions about your pet, please contact us or leave a comment below for FREE advice. We're always happy to hear from you!