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Wellness: Health Care
Home Treatments For Moist Dermatitis in Dogs—Hot Spots

A recent request by a Bark reader was, “how can I treat a hot spot at home without seeing a vet?” Hopefully I can begin to answer this, but first, one must be able to “spot” a hot spot.

A hot spot is a superficial skin infection that happens when normal skin bacteria overrun the skin’s defenses as a result of damage to its surface. This damage is most often started by the dog chewing, scratching, licking and gnawing at itself. In the first stages of the formation, the skin becomes moist, red, itchy, and infected. Pus begins to ooze from the traumatized skin as infection sets in. Then, the dried pus and damaged skin surface will work to form a tightly-adhered crust, and you will likely notice hair loss over the infection site. This can be a very painful process, and frequently, dogs will show pain when the area is touched.

Dogs are their own worst enemy when it comes to hot spots, and they are generally created by their own over-zealous self-licking and chewing. They can arise surprisingly quickly: a few minutes of “work” can create an impressive area of self-inflicted trauma. The good news is that they almost always look worse than they actually are, and infection is usually superficial—often resolving with topical treatment alone.

So, what causes our dogs to begin self-chewing and licking in the first place? Good question, with a common denominator being anything that creates irritation to the skin, causing the dog to chew or scratch at the site, can cause a hot spot. Think insect bites (fleas, flies), skin allergies, excess skin-surface moisture, dogs with heavy or dense hair coats, matted hair, saliva accumulation under the fur (think of the pet that is always licking its feet), skin scrapes, or excessive humidity in the environment can all be sources for a hot spot to develop. Another interesting cause: good old-fashioned boredom.

The location of the hot spots may help your veterinarian determine the underlying cause of the problem. For example, a hot spot over the hip area could indicate flea infestation, hip arthritis, or an anal gland infection. Similarly, a hot spot near an ear could indicate an ear problem, an allergy, or a dental/nerve irritation. 

What you can do at home:

If the hot spot is small, non-painful, recognized early, and is uncomplicated, it may be possible to begin treatment at home with over-the-counter products made for this use. There are an array of topical sprays, medicated shampoos, and herbal therapies available—too expansive a list to discuss here. The important thing is to ensure that it is a pet-approved/pet-safe product and it is always a good idea to call your veterinarian and ask if your choice seems reasonable. You need to be very careful not to use human topical products as these may be toxic to pets when licked and ingested.  For example, zinc oxide can be toxic when ingested and it is a common carrier in many human skin ointments.

The basics of home hot spot treatment are:

  • If the area is small and non painful, carefully and gently clip the fur that is covering the area—this allows air and medication to reach to wound (word of caution: use approved grooming clippers, not scissors! I see many “accidental lacerations” in the ER because of this.)
  • Keep your pet from licking the area—you guessed it, get out that cone of shame.
  • Apply a warm, moist compress to the area 3 times daily for 5-10 minutes to keep the area clean, to calm the tissues, and to encourage good circulation; allow the area to fully dry before applying anything topically.
  • Use only pet safe, veterinary approved, over-the-counter treatments; as always, it is best to consult with your veterinarian prior to starting any home treatment.
  • Do not place any bandages or wraps to cover the area—you want the area to “breathe.”
  • Alleviate the itching or irritation that started the whole thing in the first place—get to the bottom of the source, otherwise you will be faced with a loosing battle.

Tips on prevention:

  • One of the things that can’t be stressed enough is appropriate flea control! Good flea control is important for any itchy pet and is the foundation of “itch prevention.”
  • In hot, humid weather, always thoroughly dry your heavy-coated dog after bathing or swimming.
  • Make sure your dog is groomed on a regular basis.
  • Keep boredom and stress at bay—provoide adequate exercise and opportunities for mental stimulation and play.
  • Introduce essential fatty acids into your pets diet to help keep a healthy coat.

When you can’t do it alone:

The bad news is that about 30% of the pets who develop hot spots actually have some other kind of skin disease such as a deeper skin infection, a bite wound or other trauma, or even immune-mediated disease. If you have any concerns whatsoever, it is best to have your veterinarian assess them.

Another time that veterinary intervention is needed is when the hot spot becomes so big and painful that it requires sedation to properly clip and clean it (can you imagine what it would feel like to have running clipper blades go over raw flesh? Ouch!). 

An additional potential concern is if a hot spot is accompanied by deeper skin infection, which would require more extensive therapy such as oral pain medications, oral anti-inflammatory medications and oral antibiotics in addition to topical treatments. The treatment your veterinarian chooses will depend on how bad the problem is, how much pain your dog is in, how long the problem has been going on, and if the problem is a recurring one. Some dogs may get one or two hot spots and then never get another one again (luck dogs!), while some may have frequent recurrences. 

Hopefully this helps take off some of the heat of hot spots, and thank you for the suggestion, Mona J!

News: Editors
Shelter Me

The good people at the Search Dog Foundation sent us this notice about a PBS show that is not to be missed.

Starting April 1st, PBS affiliates nationwide will feature SDF Search Teams as part of a series that celebrates shelter animals and the people whose lives they touch. For the first time, a video crew has captured the story of our teams -- from recruitment, to training, to pairing with a first-responder. The show is hosted by Jane Lynch, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress, singer, and comedian.

 

 

 Click here to see the Dates/times in your area

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Recall: Natura Expands Their Recall

Natura Pet Products issued their original recall on 3/18/13, a first in the history of that brand. Earlier this week on I spoke with a spokesperson from P&G, the company that now owns Natura, about that first recall and asked if they were continuing to produce these products at their plant in Kansas that had produced the recalled product. I was told that yes they were because the affected product happened to isolated runs at the end of 2012 and they were continuing to investigate the cause of the problem, although they were confident it had been isolated to that time frame. That surprised me then, and now this expanded recall has happened even more so. Perhaps in the future they will be more careful and conservative in allowing production to continue until the time that a pathogen problem has been isolated and fixed.

The following is the letter that appeared on their site:

Natura Pet is expanding the recall of specific California Natural, Innova, EVO, Karma and Healthwise formulas as a precautionary measure due to potential Salmonella contamination. Mother Nature and wet products are not included in this recall. No other P&G Pet Care brands are impacted by this recall.

We were alerted to a single case of Salmonella in a 2.2lb package of EVO Turkey & Chicken Cat Food on March 15th and took the precautionary measure of recalling all products produced on the same line within the same time frame. In the course of further examination, Salmonella was also discovered in other packages of EVO Turkey & Chicken Cat Food and Innova Cat Treats.  We are taking the immediate and precautionary action of expanding the current recall to include additional Natura products that were produced between December 14th 2012 and March 24th, 2013 on the same production line. We are also recalling a single lot of Innova Cat treats.  True to our heritage, we will be transparent as we work through this issue.

Plans are in place to increase production and expedite release of product, but some supply disruptions should be expected.

Salmonella and other contaminants pose a great challenge to the food industry.  No company is immune. We assure you that we are extensively investigating, inspecting and taking all actions necessary to ensure that our products meet both your customer’s expectations and ours.

If additional risks are identified, we will take immediate action to protect the health of our pets and integrity of our products. We are committed to doing what is necessary to make the healthiest pet foods in the world.

The attached document lists impacted SKUs with specific lot codes and expiration dates for both the previously announced voluntary recall and this expansion.

What to do if you have this product in your store or warehouse:
Managers or designee should immediately secure all affected SKUs to an isolated location.  Product should be secured/segregated from saleable product.

Distributor partners, please notify your retail outlets and ensure they take the appropriate action to remove the impacted products from the shelf.

Your Natura Sales Representative and/or distributor will be in contact with further instructions.

If you need additional information please call 800.224.6123.  We apologize for any inconvenience this situation may cause, and want to assure you that Natura Pet is taking all the necessary steps to ensure our product quality meets your expectations.

Global Pet Care CBD Leader
Bruce Eyre

Click Here to view Natura letter to retailers and list of all products involved in the expanded recall.

News: Editors
Papers needed for sniffing around

Along with the Supreme Court hearing marriage equality cases this week, it also took time to issue a ruling on Tuesday on the legality of using warrantless searches using drug-sniffing dogs. On that score, the majority ruled that the Fourth Amendment right to keep the government out of your home extends to canine noses, so a warrant is needed.

 “The police cannot, without a warrant based on probable cause, hang around on the lawn or in the side garden, trawling for evidence and perhaps peering into the windows of the home,” Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority. “And the officers here had all four of their feet and all four of their companion’s planted firmly on that curtilage—the front porch is the classic example of an area intimately associated with the life of the home.”

Scalia was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Clarence Thomas—certainly an unlikely mix of justices.

In his dissent, Justice Alito said that the court’s ruling stretches expectations of privacy too far. “A reasonable person understands that odors emanating from a house may be detected from locations that are open to the public, and a reasonable person will not count on the strength of those odors remaining within the range that, while detectable by a dog, cannot be smelled by a human.”

As one editorial noted, “They used the sniff test to establish probable cause to get a search warrant. But the sniffing itself was an illegal search, the court said. Imagine if this man were just sitting on his couch, smoking a joint. Would we be okay with police entering his house, based only on a tip from a lovable dog?”

This case involved a Miami-Dade narcotics detection canine, Franky, and his super-sensitive nose. Question being presented to the Supreme Count was, does a police K-9’s sniff outside a house give officers the right to get a search warrant for illegal drugs, or is the sniff itself an unconstitutional search? To Franky’s credit, his nose lead to the detection of 179 pot plants growing inside a Miami house.

Although the high court has approved drug-sniffing dogs in other major cases, including routine traffic stops, airport luggage or a drug-laden package in transit, the difference in this case is that Franky’s services were used at a private home. In the future, Franky and his co-workers will simply need to get a warrant first.

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Delicate End-of-Life Decisions for Our Dogs

A much-commented New York Times article explores the singular pain and responsibility that comes with end-of-life decisions for our pets. How much effort, and how much money do you spend to extend their lives? All of the diagnostic tools and treatment options available today make these questions inevitable and also much more difficult to answer. Cancer can be treated with chemo and radiation, even amputation. Nearly every medical specialty for humans has its counterpart in veterinary medicine—cardiology; neurology; oncology; surgery—including hospice care for the end of life. We don’t like to talk about the expense involved with the treatment options we’re offered, but financial resources for our entire family (including our other pets) are impacted by the choices we make.

The same questions we must answer for ourselves—health care directives regarding heroic measures, do-not-resuscitate orders, what a quality life looks and feels like—should be answered with regard to our pets, at least in a general way before we’re sitting in the vet’s exam room and are asked “What do you want to do?” There are no easy answers, no one-size-fits-all. Ultimately, we as pet guardians must decide what’s best for them, what they would want, and what maximizes their quality of life.

Reading the article and the comments it generated are a good way to start your own discussion.

 

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Finding Maddox
CA woman embarks on a mission to find her lost dog

Fortunately I've never had a missing pet, but just the thought of not knowing where my dogs are makes me feel a little bit panicked.

Jackie Vestal's Minature Pincher, Maddox, has been missing since Christmas Eve and she's been on a desperate search for the 7-year old pup ever since.

The Los Angeles woman rarely left home without Maddox, but she had to leave him with a friend in Oklahoma City while spending time in Texas during the holidays. Maddox was only there for a day when he bolted from the house, perhaps looking for Jackie. That night Jackie and her husband made the three-hour drive back to Oklahoma City to begin the search.

Jackie did the usual driving around the neighborhood and posting hundreds of fliers around the neighborhood. She also issued a pet amber alert that sent pre-recorded messages to vet offices, neighbors, and shelters, and made hundred of fliers to post around the neighborhood. Calls came trickling in, but none of them were the right dog.

Jackie knew that she had to get creative if she wanted to find Maddox.  She alerted the media, rented billboard space, and appeared on three different local television stations and a local dog talk show.

In addition, she hired a pet detective who flew in from Nebraska with scent dogs to try to track Maddox's scent. They're also using a method called Attract and Capture, a process that takes time but won't scare Maddox off. Jackie set up 13 feeding stations and a couple of deer cameras. For the stations without cameras, there is sand to track footprints. As soon as they see Maddox on camera and know he keeps coming back to the same feeding station, they'll set up a trap.

It's been almost 100 days since Maddox went missing and Jackie has taken a leave of absence from her job in Los Angeles to focus on finding him in Oklahoma City.

In the process of looking for Maddox, Jackie has also helped a lot of other dogs. There have been a lot of false leads and in following them, she's found a lot of dogs that aren't Maddox. Jackie has helped get 13 dogs off the street and into foster homes or back at home with their families.

Not everyone has Jackie's means to take time off from work or buy a billboard, but I think all pet lovers can relate to wanting to do everything possible to locate a lost loved one. Have you had any unconventional methods work to bring a lost dog home?

If you'd like to help out in the search for Maddox, visit Jackie's Facebook page, Twitter feed, or web site.

News: Editors
Pet Privacy at Risk!

The Bark has been caught in the middle of the war between celebrities and the paparazzi — actress Eva Mendes was recently quoted that she’d prefer publications blur the faces of her dog, Hugo, a Belgian Malinois, and her boyfriend Ryan Gosling’s pup, George (a mixed breed who has a very distinctive “Mohawk” fur-do) so that they are unrecognizable. “I’ll go somewhere and they’ll be like, ‘Hey, Hugo!’ and I’m like, ‘How do you know Hugo’s name? That’s so creepy!’ ”.

Ms. Mendes has been in the news lately regarding testing a shock collar on herself she was considering for her dog in an effort to protect smaller dogs who may be at risk by Hugo’s exuberant play style. But in calling for her dog’s privacy has she gone too far?  Bill Berloni, an entertainment industry dog trainer known for putting the pooches in the Broadway show “Annie” through their paces, said Mendes is smart to be cautious.

“With celebrity comes the price of fame,” Berloni is quoted in an article that appears in today’s Boston Herald. “There are crazy stalkers out there that want a piece of any celebrity, their clothing, a piece of their privacy. I don’t think she’s overreacting. I think she’s wise.” Bark’s publisher, Cameron Woo, weighed in as well, though his statement is taken slightly out of context … “I’ve actually never heard of someone requesting they blur out pictures of their dogs,” Woo said. “People are protective of their family. I know they do that often with their children for exactly that kind of safeguarding, but I’ve not heard that with dogs. It would be kind of hard to see a photograph of a dog and come upon that dog on the street and recognize her.”

The bit they left out? “ … unless the dog was attached to a leash with Eva Mendes at the end …”

What do you think? Do dogs have a right to privacy—free of paparazzi?

 

 

News: Editors
How much is too much?

A story from the New York Times brings up a different twist to a quandary that many might have to face. If a senior dog needs surgery how much is too much to extend a pet’s life? The twist is that the dog didn’t belong to writer Roz Warren. It was Max, her son and his wife’s 13-year-old dog, who needed the gall bladder surgery costing $6,000—and it was Roz who offered to pay a third of it.

We didn’t want to let Max go. We wanted to try to save his life.

Was this crazy? “Would you pay $6,000 for a 70 percent chance of buying two extra years of life for an elderly dog?” I asked my dog-owning friends.

“In a heartbeat,” one said.

“No way,” another said. “When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. You grieve. Then you get another dog. Preferably from a shelter.”

Another friend admitted that when the vet told her a couple of years ago that her ailing Shih Tzu needed an expensive procedure to save his life, she had blurted: “Do whatever you have to do! I love this dog even more than I love my husband!”

“And I really do love my husband,” she told me sheepishly.

Luckily all went well with Max, even though the surgery found that his gall bladder had already ruptured, he recovered.

Even if he hadn’t made it through, knowing that we had done all we could for him would have been worth that price. More important, the whole experience has made me very hopeful about how Tom and Amy are likely to treat me when I’m old and frail.

That was a great gesture for a dog-grandmother to make. What do you think you would have done?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Understanding the Human Mind
Study looks at whether dogs understand our point of view

My Sheltie, Nemo, is a master food thief. He seems to wait for the perfect moment to make his move. Given how successful Nemo is, I think he's learned to read me very well over the years. But can dogs really understand what's going through our head? Most pet lovers, including myself, would say yes.

Dr. Juliane Kaminski of the University of Portsmouth decided to explore this question. Her latest study begins to look at whether dogs have a flexible understanding of the human mind. And it turns out that canines are more capable of understanding our point of view than previously thought.

In Dr. Kaminski's study, people and their dogs were put in a room with food that they were not allowed to eat. Then the researchers varied the amount of light in the room and recorded whether or not the dogs stole the food. The scientists found that the dogs were four times more likely to steal food when the lights were turned off. This suggests that our pets consider what we can or cannot see, meaning that they might have an understanding of the human perspective.  

It's always been assumed that only primates have a truly flexible understanding of the mind and others' minds. Dr. Kaminski's findings are an important step to learning a dog's ability to understand how we think and behave. I can't wait to see more research in this area.  

 
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Withdrawal: Iams Shakeables Turkey and Lamb Dog Treats

This notice appeared on PetSmart's page.

Dear Valued PetSmart® Customer,

Proctor and Gamble has issued a voluntary market withdrawal of Iams Shakeables Turkey and Lamb Dog Treats with certain “Impacted Lot Numbers” listed below. These treats are being voluntarily withdrawn due to potential for mold growth. No other products are affected. Proctor and Gamble has not received any reports of human or pet illnesses.

Product Description

Impacted Lot Number

Iams Shakeables Turkey, 6oz

[2342]419715A
[2325]419715A
[2331]419715A
[2332]419715A
[2341]419715A
[3016]419715A
[3017]419715A
[3018]419715A
[3046]419715A

Iams Shakeables Lamb, 6oz

[2338]419715A

To find the lot code on your can, look at the first 4 numbers of the second line on the bottom of the can as they identify the affected lots.(see photo above)

Please stop feeding these products and bring any remaining Iams Shakeables Turkey and Lamb Dog Treats affected by the voluntary withdrawal to your closest PetSmart store for a full refund. If you have questions about this voluntary withdrawal, please call Proctor and Gamble (Iams) at 1-877-894-4458.

PetSmart sells a variety of treats from many brands, and our associates can help you find the right item for you and your pet.

At PetSmart, we’re concerned pet parents, too. We’ll continue to do everything we can to help you and your pet.

Sincerely,

Ellen Hahn
Vice President of Marketing Services

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