Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot.....Spots

by User Not Found | Mar 17, 2013

Hot Spots

It’s been raining here a lot….I mean a lot.  And by a lot, I mean my backyard is a swamp and every time I open the door to let the dogs in, they roll their eyes, sigh loudly and reluctantly sit down to wait for their feet to be wiped.  This doesn’t stop them from coming in, laying on their beds and licking their feet clean.  I stop them of course, partly because it’s annoying and partly because licking only makes everything worse.  Friday night as I was sitting on the couch watching TV (oh yes my life is this exciting, believe it), Gus limped into the living room toward the big squishy dog bed.  I parked myself on the floor next to him and carefully checked over his feet.  I didn’t have to investigate long before I found and smelled the problem.

This is Gus’s foot with a hot spot

Any questions?

This happens every year for Gus, not usually because of the rain, but because of his allergies.  It’s a little early thanks to the swamp that is my backyard, but treatment is still the same and it does not require a trip to the vet!  Hooray!  Hot spots are common for golden retrievers.  Common places are armpits, feet, necks/chests and groins.  Fancy Science Term Alert! Acute Moist Dermatitis, or hot spots, are red, wet, hot and irritated lesions.  They pop up out of nowhere and grow like wildfire within hours, mostly because dogs tend to lick, chew and scratch the area….as I said before….making things worse.  By this point, they are super painful and cause poor Gus to limp.  Allergies, fleas and other insect bites many times will cause the beginning of what will quickly become a hot spot.  But so can stress or boredom….they lick and chew when we don’t give them anything else to do!

Half the battle with common problems like this is to make them unhappy or do the opposite of what caused them in the first place.  A hot spot is wet, red, hot and angry, but that’s where it thrives.  Yeast and bacteria from your dog’s mouth and that live on the skin are thrilled to have a warm, wet environment (remember floppy ears are warm blankets) so to keep it from growing and building, the simple answer is….dry it out and cool it off.  If you have a hot spot somewhere else than a foot, you can shave the hair.  Just use a plain old hair clipper you can get at the drug store for twelve bucks.  Don’t worry, it will grow back!  The hair helps trap dirt and moisture so get rid of it!  Now you have access to clean it with some soap and water and dry it out really well, use a hair dryer (on the cool setting) if you can.  Now Gus will demonstrate:

For most hot spots, I use Gold Bond Medicated Powder….

This happens to be the foot powder.  I make him lay back so he doesn’t inhale any of the powder and squeeze some in between the pads.

Next I cover his foot with something, in this case, a nice old tube sock.  

Hot spots can grow and spread and the more a dog licks, the faster this will happen and the worse it will get.  Seriously people, if you don’t listen to anything else I have to say, please listen to this.  DO NOT LET THEM LICK!!  I also found some handy dandy Velcro zip ties that I use to keep the sock on his foot, just make sure it’s not too tight.  

When I am not home or at night, I cover his feet so he can't lick.  But its also a good idea as they start to heal, to give them a little time to "air out" too and leave them uncovered for some portion of the day.  I get away with this when I can watch him, but in the meantime, he tolerates the socks pretty well.....don't ya think?

If the hot spot is on their back or belly, you might have to use the dreaded collar of shame to keep them away from it.  I know no dog likes it, but it really is for their own good, as well as the good of your wallet. If you can’t watch them, put it on and leave it on!  DO NOT LET THEM LICK!

About twice a day, I check Gus’s foot, re-powder and re-cover.  When he goes outside, it gets covered with plastic or taken off so he doesn’t get it wet.  I also have plenty of socks on hand so I can change those out about once a day.  Within a couple of days I start to wonder if it’s working because it looks very much the same, but you must be patient.  You should see improvement within a few days and you’ll be surprised to see that one day you’ll take that sock off and tada! Its completely healed.  Of course it if gets worse you’ll probably need reinforcements from your vet.  I know it sounds like a lot of work, but for me, it’s worth it.  Since Gus gets these so much in the summer, not only does it save me trips to the vet, it also keeps Gus off expensive antibiotics and steroids.  Hooray!

Generally I shave his hair down pretty short in the summer time.  It’s great for swimming and baths because I can dry him quickly, but also keeps his skin cool, dry and free of hot spots.  He stays happy, he knows it will grow back when he needs it in the winter time.  I know this will probably give some groomers a heart attack, but it works for us and Gus, trust me, still grows hair and sheds it to the point that I know no difference. 

There are also a variety of wackadoo options, that’s my affectionate term for “outside the box” medicine.  Green and black tea bags can be used as compresses, witch hazel also has natural anti-inflammatories and soothing properties.  Be careful with witch hazel though.  If you buy it at the drug store or the grocery store, you’ll get the version that contains alcohol!  Ouch!  Places like Whole Foods carry the non-alcoholic version, which in this case, is a good thing.  You can use these a couple times a day to help speed healing.

Keep your eyes peeled!  Hot Spots are common in golden retrievers and something as small as an insect or flea bite or even mild allergies from pollen can be enough to start the wildfire known as a hot spot.  Check early and often, spring is on its way!


Katie and Gus too    

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