Hot Spots

Excerpted from Holistic Remedies by CJ Puotinen et al.

Your dog has a weeping, oozing wound on her leg or a yucky red blob on the top of her head, and at first you wonder how she injured herself. But if you’ve been around the dog-care block, you realize that it isn’t a cut or a scrape. That gooey mess might be diagnosed as pyotraumatic dermatitis, wet eczema, or a Staphylococcus intermedius infection, but it’s what everyone calls a hot spot.

Most veterinarians treat hot spots after clipping and shaving fur around the lesion, a process that in severe cases can require sedation or the use of a local anesthetic. The area is washed with a disinfecting soap or rinsed with a liquid antiseptic. Astringents, anti-itch agents, antihistamines, hydrocortisone sprays or creams, drying agents, or antibiotics may be applied. In some cases topical treatment is accompanied by steroid infections or oral medication.

Because conventional therapies can have serious side effects and because hot spots are notorious for recurring, holistic veterinarians look beyond their obvious symptoms to their underlying causes.

According to Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, author of Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, skin disorders stem from:

  • Toxicity, most of it from poor-quality food and some from environmental pollutants or topically applied pest-controlled chemicals.
  • Vaccinations, such as routinely administered multiple vaccines, which can induce immune disorders in susceptible animals.
  • Suppressed disease, the remains of inadequately treated conditions that were never cured and which may cause periodic discharge through the skin.
  • Psychological factors such as boredom, frustration, anger, and irritability.

So rather than focusing 100% on the symptoms, Dr. Pitcairn says “It is possible to alleviate or even eliminate skin problems simply through fasting, proper nutrition and a total health plan.”

For more information on holistic approaches to common canine conditions and illnesses, purchase and download the ebook series from Whole Dog Journal, Holistic Remedies.