The vet’s office: Hot spots
Investigating pets’ staph infections
By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
The term “hot spot” would seem to best describe a busy night club, but to many pet owners it is the lay term for a deep and uncomfortable skin infection.
For multiple reasons the surface skin barrier can be compromised, and then normal staph skin bacteria enter the deeper layers and begin their digestive and destructive processes. Bacteria create their own “bacterial soup” from the destruction of living tissue by producing enzymes that destroy the cells. Not only is this process very itchy to the pet, but it also can be a quite uncomfortable burning sensation, thus the name hot spot. Licking, chewing, and scratching at these small spots is to be expected, but many times these actions will cause the infection to spread.
Very early on, topical antibiotics may have a chance to stop the progression, but once the bacteria dig in, a visit to your veterinarian is often suggested for local treatment along with oral antibiotics and possibly anti-itch medications.
An obvious bug bite location or skin abrasion from grooming or play may be the portal of entry. Often we see dogs with seasonal allergies present with hot spots because of the higher skin bacterial counts that these allergies promote. Another common factor can be an attempt to bathe a heavily matted pet that is difficult to get completely dry. Some staph infections, however, seem to appear spontaneously.
Elizabethan collars can be used to prevent your pet from creating additional trauma to the skin. Also, clipping the toenails and grinding them so that they are smooth can decrease the chance of rapid spread of the infection. It is not unusual for these lesions to double in size daily if traumatized. These are usually not resistant “super bacteria” but opportunistic common skin inhabitants that (to use a football term) go deep.
If you see yellowish, scabby, itchy, or moist spots on your pet, it is best to see your veterinarian right away. Your pet will be more comfortable and on the road to recovery sooner.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.