My dog has a hot spot on her front leg. I have tried Sulfodene, in liquid and lotion forms. I have used hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin, bandages and I even put a sock on her leg to keep her from getting to it. I bought some Band-Aids that have “deterrent” stuff on them and she still takes those off. What can I do to help her that doesn’t involve taking her to the vet?
First, you must make sure you are truly treating a hot spot, as lesions on the legs such as lick granulomas, migrating foxtails, ringworm and fungal infections can often look like hot spots as well, but would require a different treatment.
Hot spots are usually caused by an underlying allergy. There are three common allergies in dogs: food allergies, flea bite allergies and environmental allergies. As the dog becomes increasingly itchy, she starts to chew at a particular spot until it becomes red and irritated. It can eventually become infected and ulcerated, causing a lot of pain. If there is an infection present, this contributes to the itching, making the dog scratch and chew that much more. Ultimately, you need to treat the infection with antibiotics; sometimes topical antibiotics (such as Neosporin) can be effective, but other times systemic oral antibiotics are necessary.
In addition, treatment to stop the underlying allergy is usually necessary. That treatment can include a course of antihistamines, cortisone or cyclosporine (Atopica) to stop the itch. Topical antihistamines, hydrocortisone or cortisone creams are also sometimes effective at stopping the itching. Unfortunately, the problem with most topical treatments is that, often, it calls more attention to the area, making the dog want to focus on licking/chewing there even more. Often an Elizabethan collar is necessary to keep the dog from chewing at the site and allow it to completely heal.
Once the hot spot is under control, make sure you are preventing future outbreaks by keeping your dog on once-monthly flea control all year round; placing her on fish oil, which is high in omega 3 fatty acids and is beneficial for the skin; as well as using antihistamines as needed in the very early stages of itching before there is a significant problem.