As soon as the weather gets warm the number of itchy cats and dogs seen in our practice suddenly increases. Pet parents call with panic in their voices, as they describe a growing, red, oozing, hairless area that seems to have appeared overnight. The pets are miserable and need relief fast! Usually we try to squeeze these poor kids in for an immediate appointment because we know how much pain is associated with a really aggressive hot spot. But what do you do if this raw area shows up when your veterinarian is closed? Can you offer any natural relief? The answer is, yes!
First, you must remove as much hair from the area as possible. These wounds can be very painful and your pet may not be happy with you touching the area. Apply cool (not cold) running water over the area if possible, flushing away hair, dirt, and debris. The cool water will help soothe the area, allowing you to get closer for inspection. If the pet will let you touch the area, witch hazel will help clean away debris. Apply and wipe with soft cotton. A cold compress made with crushed cucumbers can help draw out swelling and relieve pain. Cool green tea or tea bags can also be applied to the area, as the tannins in the tea will help dry the wound. Manuka honey is a good antibacterial agent that can be applied after the area is cleaned. Aloe vera gel is also cooling and soothing. Coconut oil is soothing and healing. Keep the pet from further traumatizing the area by using a tee shirt, Elizabethan collar, or blow-up collar as needed. If the hot spot is not looking much better after home treatment, be sure to contact your veterinarian as soon as they are open.
You'll need to search for the underlying cause of the hot spot. Common causes include itching due to fleas or allergies, chronically moist areas in long-haired dogs like Golden Retrievers (dogs that swim a lot can be prone to this), ear infections, anal gland infections, or insect stings. Good grooming is essential, along with daily checks including under the front legs and neck and under the tail. Hot spots left untreated in hot weather can lead to a secondary disaster - infestation with maggots!
Enjoy your summer more by keeping your pets naturally healthy!