‘Hot Spots’ Respond to Treatment, Flea Control

Got a question about your pet? Send it to Dr. Glenn Ericson, Ask the Vet, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626. Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is incoming president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn

Q: My 5-pound female poodle is subject to “hot spots.” They will flare up in minutes, sometimes covering an area of about three square inches, and her skin is bright red.

I have heard they are caused by fleas, an allergy and a high-protein diet. I bathe her weekly, medicate the skin on breaking out. I do make her meat loaf myself. I could not find any product sold that she would like. I give her a vitamin supplement daily, Nutra-Cal. She does get nibbles from the table, too. She is 6 years old. Her medications are Prednisolone, 5 mg., a half tablet daily when hot spots appear, and HB101 to apply directly on hot spots.

All this has been going on for months. I’m hoping you can give her some relief and help.

Elizabeth Lewis, Newport Beach


A: Hot spots, or acute moist dermatitis, are the result of self-inflicted trauma from chewing or licking of the skin. The lesions are seen generally on dogs with dense haircoats. The most common cause is allergy, especially flea bites, which causes the skin to itch or become irritated. The dog then scratches or chews the area, removing the hair and the superficial layer of skin. The skin then becomes more inflamed, moist and now prone to secondary bacterial infection. Because of the intense irritation, a small spot can become very large within hours.

The medication your poodle is taking is a major portion of treatment. The coat should be clipped away from the hot spot and cleansed daily with a gentle antiseptic soap or solution and dried thoroughly. The HB101 (Burrow’s solution) should be applied afterward.

If the spots become infected, your veterinarian may want to start antibiotics along with the Prednisolone. To help prevent future damage to the skin, a plastic Elizabethan collar may be necessary as a restraint device. Acute moist dermatitis is primarily a seasonal disorder, increasing when the weather becomes hot or humid, which also coincides with our typical flea season. Flea control at home is most important. You also may have your vet check your pet’s ears and anal sacs for possible infection, as this may be a cause of hot spots. Be careful with frequent bathing as this may dry the skin excessively and cause some itching.

Q: I have a 4-year-old double yellow head Amazon parrot which is supposed to be female. How can I tell for sure? I would like to breed her.


Betty Hill, Santa Ana

Q: Male and female parrots are essentially alike in size, color, and markings, which makes determining their sex difficult. The most accurate method is to have your bird surgically sexed by a veterinarian who is familiar with birds and the surgical procedure.

This procedure requires an anesthetic, removal of some feathers on the abdomen, and a small surgical incision to allow a scope to be inserted into the abdominal body cavity. The veterinarian locates and identifies the ovaries or testes. The incision heals within a week.