My Dog Has Fleas and Hot Spots: A Guide to Relief and Healing

Is your furry friend suffering from fleas and hot spots? Don’t fret! ‘Tis the season of the flea, especially in warmer months like the ones we have here in Southern California. But fear not, there are ways to alleviate your dog’s discomfort and aid in the healing process. In this article, we’ll explore the common causes of hot spots, as well as effective treatments to help your beloved pet find relief.

Common Causes of Hot Spots

Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, are red, inflamed skin lesions that can appear anywhere on your dog’s body. They can be accompanied by oozing, hair loss, itchiness, scabs, crusting, and even an unpleasant odor. Some of the common causes of hot spots on dogs include food allergies, flea allergy dermatitis, ear infections, insect bites, mites, and underlying skin conditions. The key to treating hot spots effectively is identifying the underlying cause.

What to Do About Flea Hot Spots on Dogs

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Once you’ve determined the cause of your dog’s skin irritation and, if necessary, visited your veterinarian, there are a few treatment options you can try at home.

1. Kill all current fleas and prevent new infestations

It’s crucial to eliminate all current fleas and prevent any new ones from infesting your dog. There are various flea control methods available, including topical and systemic flea medications. Personally, I prefer topical applications because they don’t require your dog to ingest the medication. However, be cautious when choosing a flea prevention product, as not all over-the-counter options are effective. It’s best to use something recommended or sold by your vet. Remember, investing around $10-15 per month on flea treatment/prevention is a good rule of thumb.

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2. Oral or topical antibiotics

In cases of bacterial infection, your vet may prescribe either oral antibiotics (for severe infections) or a topical antibiotic shampoo, cream, or ointment. When possible, topical treatments are preferred, as they avoid systemic medication. These antibiotics help heal the skin and promote recovery.

3. Protect the skin while it is healing

Skin takes time to heal, typically around three weeks. During this healing period, it’s essential to protect the affected area and prevent your dog from creating new wounds through scratching or biting. You can do this by using an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) to restrict access to the open wound. Additionally, soothing home remedies such as weekly baths with mild chlorhexidine shampoo can provide relief.

4. Control itching

Even after all the fleas have been eliminated, the skin may remain itchy for up to three weeks due to flea saliva. To alleviate itching, consider using shampoos and conditioners that contain antihistamines, anti-inflammatory properties, or corticosteroids. These products can be incredibly helpful. However, in severe cases, your vet may prescribe steroid pills or administer a long-lasting injection to stop itching. It’s important to note that steroids can have side effects, so prevention is key to avoid reaching this point.

5. Prevention

Once the infection is under control and the skin is healing, it’s vital to prevent future flea bites, as they can lead to similar outbreaks in allergic dogs. Ongoing flea treatment on a monthly basis is recommended, especially in mild climates like Southern California where fleas can persist year-round. Treating the environment with sprays and powders is also crucial since most of the flea’s life cycle occurs off the dog. Fleas eggs and larvae thrive in dark areas such as under furniture, dog bedding, or in closets.

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Keep in mind that prevention is the key to a flea-free summer for you and your pets!

Wishing you and your pets a flea-free summer!