Hot Spot Skin Problems for a Golden Retriever

Updated November 21, 2016

Hot spots are those ugly infected sores that appear on the skin of your golden retriever. Hot spots are also known as acute moist dermatitis and usually occur as self-infliction when your dog licks, scratches and chews on him or herself excessively. There are ways to treat these sores, giving your beautiful golden the relief he deserves.


The onset of hot spots can be caused by a variety of conditions affecting your dog. Skin allergies, infections, fleas, insect bites and chemical irritants such as lawn care products, among other factors, can cause irritation for your dog. As a result, he will bite, scratch, lick and chew in an effort to find relief, only to cause more irritation. Sometimes a dog may also do these things because of boredom, a change in his family and/or routine, lack of exercise or just due to the time of year (hot weather or shedding season).


Hot spots, known as acute moist dermatitis, are also known as moist eczema or summer sores, as that is when they appear the most. The sores can appear anywhere on your dog and spread rapidly to other areas. There are varieties of causes including the spread of bacteria. Anything that irritates or breaks the skin creates a setting for bacterial contamination if there is any moisture on the skin. The moisture can be from a recent bath or swim, being out in the rain or rolling in wet grass. A slight oozing sore that provides nutrients for bacteria can also spread and create further hot spots. They cause severe itching and suffering to your dog because the infection goes deep into the layers of the skin.


Hot spots may take two weeks before they start healing. Your vet may need to prescribe oral antibiotics and antihistamines if it is an extensive case of hot spots. Hair may need to be shaved around sore areas to help in the healing process. Be sure that your dog's coat does not remain damp, since this is a perfect environment for bacterial growth. A good, natural, healthy holistic meat-based diet, along with an omega fatty acid supplement, is a key factor in avoiding repeated episodes of hot spots and other skin afflictions.


The best you can do for your golden retriever is to take steps in preventing an onset of hot spots. During the spring and late summer months (the time when your dog sheds excessively), it is imperative that your dog is groomed more often. You can save grooming money by brushing him daily to get as much undercoat and loose fur out as possible. Golden retrievers are very susceptible to ear infections due to their floppy ears. Again, during the months of shedding, be sure to clean them weekly with a good ear cleaner recommended by your vet so the infection in the ear will not spread to the cheeks, causing hot spots.

Always ward off fleas and other insects, monitoring your dog regularly, especially in summer months, to protect him from insect bites. If you notice your dog scratching and biting, causing minor hot spots, treat him right away with an antibiotic cream and monitor him so the problem does not persist. If the hot spots are more serious, contact your vet immediately for professional treatment with an oral antibiotic and/or steroids.


While your dog is undergoing treatment for hot spots, he may need to wear a protective device, such as an Elizabethan collar, which will prevent him from chewing, licking or scratching the affected areas and producing further trauma to the affected area. Hot spots that are left untreated will continually spread and get worse, making life miserable for your golden retriever.

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