Skin Problems/Hot Spots

Hot spots are those ugly, infected sores which appear as if by magic on your Newfoundland. More correctly called "acute moist dermatitis," hot spots are wounds dogs inflict upon themselves through excessive chewing, licking and/or scratching of one particular area (typically on the neck, face, chest, back, rump and flanks).

Hot spots can be precipitated by a number of conditions such as fleas, insect bites, ear infections, anal gland problems, allergies, skin damage, infection or irritants (lawn sprays, harsh shampoos, etc.) Some dogs only have problems during a specific time of the year (shedding season or hot weather) and there may be a definite relationship between hot spots and stress or boredom. A new dog in the family, a change in routine or even lack of exercise may be the underlying reason for your dog's hot spot.

Here are some hints to help avoid hot spots:

Double or triple the number of grooming sessions during spring and summer to remove all shedding undercoat. But, be very careful not to scrape or damage skin by exerting too much pressure with comb or brush.

Coats left damp can cause trouble. When your dog spends all day swimming, take a few minutes at night to rinse the dog off with clean water and dry the coat thoroughly with towels and a hair dryer set on cool.

Because air cannot circulate easily, ear infections in floppy-eared dogs are common and can promote hot spots on the cheeks and under ears. Newfoundland need extra care, especially during the summer and after swimming. Ask your veterinarian for a good ear cleanser and ensure that your Newfoundland's ears are clean.

Dogs with severe or persistent hot spots will need to be seen by a veterinarian. may include shaving the area and administering antibiotic cream, oral antibiotics or steroids. Treatment will stop the itch-scratch cycle and antibiotics will fight the infection.

Minor hot spots or those that crop up on weekends and holidays can be given first aid treatment. Clip the hair around the infected area and gently wash it with antibacterial soap and rinse well. Some owners have good success by applying drying powders such as Gold Bond or topical ointments such as Panalog. Further chewing at the wound must be stopped. This can be accomplished by applying Bitter Apple spray around the wound or by asking your veterinarian about using an Elizabethan collar.

A natural approach can be equally effective. Skin care products for pets that contain tea tree oil, chamomile and aloe vera can clear up most hot spots in just a few days. Aloe vera and chamomile are soothing ingredients to reduce pain and promote healing. An oatmeal bath is sometimes helpful -- one product is Magic Coat Natural Oatmeal Shampoo by Four Paws, available from pet supply stores.