Sep 21, 2018

Are Hot Spots On Dogs Contagious? - What We Need to Know

Imagine that you have an itch and you go to scratch it only for it itch more. Ok, this happens a lot and isn’t a big deal.

But, now imagine that the itch is so unbearable that you have to keep scratching it — it’s all you can do to relieve some of the itchiness —  but every time you do so your nails shred deeper into your skin. You start bleeding, it becomes infected, and the itch becomes agonizingly worse. This is how your dog feels when they have hot spots.
What Are Hotspots? 

Hot Spots are tears and scratches that develop into lesions ripe with bacterial infections and abhorred pain. They can look like a blanket of irritated red skin that washes over the dog’s shoulders or back legs. Or you might see a bald spot peeking through your pup's fur on their neck. 

Hot Spots can spring up overnight depending on how frequent your dog is scratching the area. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on your pup. If you see them scratching too much, grab an anti itch spray and address the situation.

Are Hot Spots Contagious?

They are pretty brutal looking, and it’s advised that you don’t go searching for pictures unless you want to have nightmares. However, hot spots are not contagious. Because of their appearance, how quickly they develop, and that dogs in the same household get them together, it’s a misconception that they are contagious.

What Causes Hot Spots and How To Prevent Them?

Anything that causes a dog to itch can be the start of a hot spot. Hot spots are commonly seen in the warmer months because of allergies, fleas, ticks, and other insects that bite their skin causing irritations. This is the main reason multiple dogs in the household can develop hot spots at the same time.

If fleas and ticks are the banes of your dog’s existence, you have a lot of options available to kill the little buggers. There are all-natural shampoos & sprays that contain natural pesticides like lemongrass. Your vet is always a fantastic source of knowledge and will help you find a flea & tick solution that are safe for your dog. 

If you expect allergies might be the culprit, dogs display similar symptoms as humans — look for sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, coughing, and facial pain from congestion. Your vet will be able to diagnose the specific allergy and will prescribe medicine to help.

Medical conditions like anal sac disease and hip dysplasia often cause dogs to lick the area which can lead to hotspots.

Last, obsessive scratching may be a sign of anxiety, stress — and to a lesser extent boredom.  Boredom is easy to fix — give them more attention, exercise, having other pets can help, etc.

The two main forms of anxiety in dogs are behavioral and situational. A lot of pet owners are giving their pups hemp CBD products to keep them calm. It helps relieve anxiety for up to 8 hours. This is the perfect amount of time for you to leave the house for work and not have to worry about coming home to a torn up house.

Hemp CBD is all that is needed for situational anxiety like the Fourth of July or thunderstorms.  While hemp CBD can greatly help with individual episodes of situational or behavioral anxiety it won’t cure the condition — only training can. 

Regardless of the cause of the hot spots, if you’re not targeting the source of the issue no anti itch spray, antibiotic, etc. will be enough. 

Which Breeds Are Prone To Hot Spots?

The other big cause of hotspots are breeds with thick-coats and long-hair — if they aren’t getting regularly groomed they are left opened to hot spots.

Dog Breeds Prone To Hot Spots:

     Labrador Retrievers
     Golden Retrievers
     St. Bernards
     German Shepherd

How Are Hot Spots Treated?
Some hot spots are caused by bacterial infections, but not all. However, bacteria thrive in moist and wet areas, and hot spots are a perfect breeding ground for them. Why am I telling you this? Because the first thing you need to do to treat hot spots is to remove the hair around the area.

Start with scissors — no need to get right up against their skin with them — shaving is often necessary. If this seems like too much work or the hot spots are bad enough that you're worried about damaging them, then take it as a sign to see your veterinarian.

There are several steps to treating Hotspots:

     Diagnosing and treating the source of the hotspots
     Cleaning the area & removal of fur
     Antibacterial medicine
     Medicine to heal the skin
     Medicine to prevent future hot spots
Can Hotspots Be Treated At Home?

Hot spots can definitely be treated at home, and there is a big market out there for it — walk into any store that sells pet products and you’ll see dog hot spot sprays and solutions.

Before you start, inspect the hot spot — is it badly bleeding or infected? If you answer yes, then stop and call your vet before doing anything else. If you feel confident that the hot spot isn’t terrible and you’re up for the challenge then let’s proceed.

Don’t worry, it’s not a terribly difficult process. First, make sure you have scissors, a shaver, hot spot spray, antibacterial soap, Benadryl, and maybe even the cone of shame handy.

Tips for finding the best hot spot spray:

     Alcohol Free
     Relieves itchiness
     Repairs damaged skin

Step for treating hot spots at home
1.   Cut away the fur around the area so the hot spot can breath and won't lock-in moisture 
2.   Give them a bath and use antibacterial soap
3.   Apply hot spot spray *Follow Their Instructions*
4.   If you notice scratching or can’t keep an constant eye on your dog, think about giving them benadryl. It’s one of the few safe over-the-counter drugs you can give dogs and vet’s have a very favorable opinion of it. 

Hotspots should clear up in about a week, so if you notice them getting worse or not healing give your vet a call.

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