During the summer months and sometimes in the colder months too, owners might see patches of their dogs skin completely gone and in its place, red, open sores. Some might know these as hot spots, while others might be wondering what is going on.
Hot spots can be a result of a dog having an infestation of fleas. Their allergic reaction to them, known as dermatitis, causes dogs’ skin to become very itchy and inflamed, which then causes them to bite, chew and lick the areas to try and curb the uncomfortable feelings.
When the infestation goes untreated, the hot spots can get worse and can become a breeding ground for bacteria and secondary infections. Dogs who have severe cases of dermatitis can have such sensitive skin that hot spots can develop if they bite their coats just once or twice a month.
Clinical signs that your pup might be suffering from hot spots caused by a flea allergy include compulsive biting, licking, visible bald spots that show exposed raw and bloody skin and the dog trying to scratch its head and neck often.
If you notice any of these signs, you should bring your dog to the veterinarian so he or she can figure out a plan of action. The vet might also be able to show you ways to look for a flea infestation in the future.
The vet might take a look through the dog’s coat using pet products like a Resco Pro-Series Flea Comb to check for “flea dirt.” This may show up on your dog’s coat looking like dark dust. When the dirt is dampened, it will turn red, because the substance is made up of blood. The vet might also run skin tests on the dog to see if its immune system is reacting to the flea proteins.
Once fleas are determined to be the cause behind the hot spots, the vet will most likely want you to start the dog on tick and flea preventive pet drugs like Frontline or K9 Advantix II as keeping fleas away is always the best option. The vet might also recommend helping the dog deal with its painful hot spots by using topical sprays such as 1-800-PetMeds Be Soothed Tea Tree Oil Skin Relief spray or Excel Hydrocortisone Spray With Aloe Vera. Because the dog has been diagnosed with fleas, you might also want to take certain precautions in your home to make sure the parasites are completely gone. You may want to do a thorough vacuum throughout the whole house and wash all linens in hot temperatures.