The Diagnosis and Treatment of Hot Spots in Dogs and Cats

The Diagnosis and Treatment of Hot Spots in Dogs and Cats

The always knowledgeable and informative Dr. Peter Dobias has published another great article for cat and dog owners about “hot spot” – itchy bald patches seen on some pets.  Most practitioners will prescribe steroids such as prednisone, Panalog, Surolan, or Otomax to address this common problem.  However, Dr. Peter Dobias has pointed out that steroids are powerful medication that can have lasting deleterious side effects including:

  • Liver disease
  • Obesity
  • Muscle weakness
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Adrenal gland problems
  • And more itching (one of the symptoms that we are trying to eliminate)

Dr. Peter Dobias has suggested a more holistic solution to first diagnosing and then treating hot spots in cats and dogs.  His prognosis is that the location of the hot spots is related to the spinal location where the animal may be experiencing a reduced flow of energy, nerve impulses, and blood.  This results in a lack of nourishment to the adjacent region, much like a watering hose being pinched and not being allowed to water the flowers.

The following are Dr. Peter Dobias’ “14 Steps to Treating Hot Spots:

  1. Relate the hot spot location to the related spinal segment and examine the spine.
  2. Push down on both sides of the spine and note any signs of discomfort to touch, any heat, or skin twitching.
  3. If present, you may need to take your pet to a good animal chiropractor, physiotherapist, acupuncturist, or IMS (intramuscular needle stimulation) practitioner.
  4. In severe cases, x-rays may be needed to determine the amount of bone change around the vertebrae.
  5. The more chronic changes there are, the more frequent and longer-term the treatment needs to be.
  6. Assess the size and location of the hot spot.
  7. If possible, examine the surrounding muscles for pain, swelling, heat, and other signs of injury.
  8. Clip all hair in and around the area if possible.  If your pet is sensitive, use an ice pack to numb the area first.  In some cases, sedation or topical anesthesia may be needed.
  9. If the skin appears sore and crusty, use a facecloth or gauze, to soak and soften the scabbing.
  10. Gently wash the whole scab off and continue doing so for 2 – 3 days.  Thick crusty scabs harbor bacteria.
  11. Dry the area gently and spray on Healing Solution 3 times daily for 2 – 4 days.  Thin scab formation is usually a good sign of healing.
  12. Make sure your pet doesn’t overdo activities like sprinting, swimming, ball retrieving, or running.  These can be aggravating factors.
  13. If the spine continues to be sore, check with your practitioner or ask for a second opinion.  Get back x-rays done to check for chronic changes such as disc disease, arthritis, and spondylosis.
  14. If chronic changes are present, your pet may need to be put on mobility and joint support such as Glycoflex.

The more chronic the problem, the longer the term of treatment will be.  In some cases, the pet may need to be put on a permanent regimen to prevent the occurrence of hot spots.  And there may be other causes at the root of the problem such as hormonal issues, food allergies, or fungal disease.  So, if in doubt, take your pet to a professional holistic veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Read Dr. Peter Dobias’ full article on hot spots.

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