You and your dog have spent the day enjoying water activities. Now he or she has an incredibly funky smell and irritated skin. Be aware that the scent may not be just “wet dog”. It’s possible your best friend might have pyotraumatic dermatitis: a skin infection commonly known as a “hot spot”. These infections are caused by bacteria and are usually very itchy, smelly and gooey. Bacteria love to live in places that are warm, dark and moist. Dogs with damp floppy ears, tightly matted fur or soggy wet feet are especially prone. These infections can occur almost anywhere, including the side of the face (under the ears), flanks and in-between toes.
“Hot Spots” are very uncomfortable and potentially painful for your pet. It is always best to seek treatment from your veterinarian as soon as you suspect this problem. It is important to shave the fur away from the hot spot to allow better air circulation and healing. This may require sedation to decrease your pet’s distress. Fur traps warmth and moisture which may have caused the infection to begin with. Although this may leave your dog with a funny hair-cut, he or she will thank you for it! The veterinarian will likely perform an initial cleansing of the area, and prescribe an antibiotic to use daily. And, just like a child with chicken pox, your dog won’t know when to stop scratching or licking. He or she may need to wear an Elizabethan collar (aka “the cone of shame”) to prevent this. It will take a week or so for the infection to fully resolve, but your dog should start feeling better almost immediately after these treatments.
To prevent hot spots, make sure you bathe, thoroughly rinse and thoroughly dry your furry friend after any fun water activities. Keep fur groomed and brushed, even if your pet has short fur. If your pet is walking through extremely wet areas, clean and dry their feet afterwards. There may be some very wet or mucky areas that might need to be avoided altogether. Staying clean and dry can help you and your dog have a safe and happy summer.