By Jean Sutherland

Cats & Tartar

     Hot Spots can seemingly appear spontaneously anywhere on a dog's body and the area involved can rapidly spread. This moist, raw skin disorder has a variety of causes but the most consistent factor is bacteria. Anything that irritates or breaks the skin can create the environment for bacterial contamination if the skin surface has just a bit of moisture on it. That moisture can be present from a recently given bath, from swimming or being out in the rain, from rolling in wet grass or even from a slightly oozing sore that provides nutrients for bacteria.
     Hot Spots can cause severe itching and self trauma because the infection goes into the deep layers of the skin. That's why Hot Spots may take two weeks to finally look like they are going to heal. On occasion if a dog has extensive and deep areas of Moist Eczema, oral antibiotics and antihistamines may need to be prescribed and large areas of skin will be shaved.
     Watch for these skin sores and keep your dog well groomed especially in hot seasons. Any dog that has matted, dirty hair is at greater risk of developing Hot Spots. Many owners will have their long or thick furred dog shaved closely in the summer. This really does help prevent the thick coat from covering any dampness on the surface of the skin. The fur covering any accumulated dampness and not allowing evaporation, the wet skin surface is a perfect environment for bacterial growth and invasion of the skin surface.
     Repeated infections and irritation from licking can create scar tissue and chronic infection. A severe Lick Granuloma may result if persistent treatment is not performed. Hot Spots seem to be a summertime problem but can occur any time. If your dog needs veterinary help for skin lesion, don't delay in making that call.
     Hot Spots often spread under the cover of the fur so that by the time you notice them they are well established and spreading. Moist Eczema may be caused by a tick bite. It is recommended that the fur be shaved over the moist eczema to facilitate application of medication as well as to allow drying. An area well beyond the margins of the lesion should be shaved. The tiny black spot at the top of the Hot Spot is an area where the skin has actually died and may be where a tick was attached. Why one tick will trigger Moist Eczema and others won't is still a mystery. If every tick bite caused this much reaction the magnitude of skin problems in dogs would be staggering!
     Daily cleaning of the Hot Spot, even every two hours for the first day or two, will speed up the healing. Also, any topical anti-bacterial ointment will arrest the growth of the bacteria. These skin lesions can take a week to finally dry and look like they are going to heal. Once they are no longer oozing, simply keeping the Hot Spot area clean will be all that's needed. The fur begins to grow back (sometimes a different color!) within two weeks. Shaved and cleaned and vigorous treatment with antibiotics and cleansers will prevent further damage. Rarely will a scar be a consequence of Hot Spots but scarring can happen.
     The shelter would like to thank the band Ellis Island for helping to collect money to spay some of our animals. Their collecting of donations at their performances has gone toward spaying a large number of our cat population.
     Also, continued thanks to the Lakeside Spay and Neuter group for all their help in getting our dogs spayed. The Shelter would also like to thank our volunteers who go to the market every week and sell used books and videos. Donations are always welcome. The help that they have given the shelter over the last year has made a tremendous difference. When you see these groups, please thank them for their help and support. "NO MORE (unwanted) PUPPIES OR KITTENS AT LAKESIDE" is our goal. Please visit us at