You believe that you have beautiful fluffy Bichon Frise. In your eyes, his perfection is unmarred and matching to none.
One day you notice your cute little Bichon is constantly scratching or licking his body.
It can be as annoying as nails on a chalkboard. But don’t blame your Bichon for these bad habits a skin condition is probably the culprit.
If you see distinct areas of redness, swelling, and hair loss on your Bichon body then there are more chances your dog is suffering from a hotspot.
You are maybe surprised why this happen to your lovely Bichon? What is the possible management of hotspot? Or how can I prevent this?
If so, this post is especially for you.
What is Hotspot?
First of all, we will discuss what is a hotspot? Hot spots are also known as Summer Sores or Moist Dermatitis. It can be seen anywhere on your Bichon’s body; may also cause the surrounding area to deteriorate.
Hot spots are localized areas of skin inflammation and bacterial infection. Often a hot spot will begin as a small red area that owners may mistake for an insect bite.
Unlike an insect bite, a hot spot will rapidly worsen and spread, developing into a hot, red, oozing, and painful lesion.
This moist, raw and unpleasant skin disorder has a variety of possible causes but the most consistent and common factor is bacteria. Other Possible causes are parasites, allergies or stress.
Your fluffy pup can suffer from the hotspot at any time but they’re extremely common during the warmer months. Don’t let hot spots cramp your summer adventures.
Possible causes of hot spot
When it comes to hot spots, your Bichon is their own worst enemies they generally create this hotspot by their own over-zealous self-licking and chewing behavior.
A few minutes of licking and irritation can create an impressive area of self-inflicted trauma. The good news is that hot spots almost always look worse than they actually are, and infection is usually superficial often resolving with topical treatment alone.
Anything that damage or irritate the skin can make the environment for bacterial infection if the surface of the skin has but only a little a bit of moisture on it. Such incidences of moisture occur by a recent bath, swim, and stroll in the rain or playtime in the water.
Even a slightly oozing sore can provide enough moisture and/or nutrient for a bacterial infection to take hold.
So, any condition that causes irritation to your fluffy Bichon has the potential to result in a hot spot. Common causes of the itching in your fluffy Bichon Frise include:
- Flea allergy dermatitis
- Mite infestation
- Other Parasites (ticks, lice)
- Atopic dermatitis
- Bacterial infection
- Yeast dermatitis
- Ear or skin infections
- Anal sac disease
- Contact irritants
- Stress or boredom resulting in excessive licking
- The coat that is dirty or matted
- Moisture trapped in the coat from swimming or bathing
Flea allergy dermatitis
Only one flea bite can turn your Bichon’s life into a non-stop itchy nightmare. Flea Allergy Dermatitis can lead to hot spots on dogs and extreme discomfort for your pet that can be caused by a single bite of fleas.
Pet parents don’t even want to think about fleas, it is one of those pests.
However, it is important to know about these annoying creatures and how to avoid an infestation of your pet, and potentially your home.
Moving around on the skin of your Bichon about the size of sesame seeds is the flea. Their favorite spots include the base of the ears and the rump. Look closely to lightly haired places, like the groin, for telltale signs.
Another correct way to diagnose fleas is to part the fur in several places and look for tiny black specks about the size of poppy seeds. These specks are flea feces, composed of digested blood.
Whether you’re looking at “flea dirt” or just plain dirt, if you are not sure about it put it on a damp piece of white tissue. After a minute or so, a small red spot or radiance will become apparent if it’s flea feces, since the blood re-hydrates and diffuses into the tissue.
Your Bichon might contain Mites as tiny vermin that like to live on its body. They damage the skin of your Bichon by biting or burrowing and often cause intense annoyance.
There are many different types of mite, on your Bichon body which can be treated by your vet. The sooner the problem is spotted; it will be easier to treat.
- Ear mites
- Demodex mites
- Sarcoptic mite
- Harvest mite
Demodectic mange is usually localized on one spot of an infected Bichon while the Sarcoptic mange is much more general on the body of the infected poor pup. It is also contagious to humans, unlike the demodectic mange.
After ruling out allergies and bacterial infections of the skin, your veterinarian will conduct a physical inspection of your Bichon to identify the mite that may have embedded into its skin.
Other Parasites (ticks, lice)
Hotspots are caused by external parasites that include: ticks and lice
People who go on a walk with their cute Bichon through grassy areas and woods are at higher risk for tick bites and lice, especially during the months from April through September.
People who took their cute creatures through such areas out of necessity or for recreation are at higher risk than those that protect their pets with repellents.
One thing more if your cute bichon is treated with repellents it decreases their risk of tick and lice bites.
Ticks and lice are little insects that are similar to fleas but smaller than fleas. They damage the skin of your fluffy bichon by biting or burrowing through it.
Sucking and biting lice cause irritation which leads to a hotspot.
Many allergies are passed down genetically through their parents. A good rule of thumb if you are thinking to purchase Bichon Frise you should review its pedigree.
But in any case, your Bichon can still have allergies, regardless of their parents were allergy-free.
If your cute Bichon Frise has red, dry, and even itchy skin there is more chance that it is due to allergy. If your adorable Bichon reacts to this, you will notice scratching or biting on his own skin. It will lead to a hotspot.
The most common allergies that your Bichon Frise can suffer are following
- Food allergies
- Atopic dermatitis
When your Bichon has a food allergy it means your dog has a food sensitivity, also known as food intolerance.
These food sensitivities are not like true allergies, they do not involve an immune response and are instead a steady reaction to a felonious ingredient in your dog’s food, for example to beef, chicken, eggs, corn, wheat, soy, or milk.
If your cute friend has food sensitivities it may have several symptoms, including gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea, or signs like itchiness, poor skin and coat, and chronic ear or foot infections which lead to hotspot ultimately.
Most of the food allergens are present in meat or dairy products, so if your Bichon has some of these included in his diet, chances are you will have to change the food he eats.
1. Beef – 34%
2. Dairy Products – 17%
3. Chicken – 15%
4. Wheat – 13%
5. Soy – 6%
6. Lamb – 5%
7. Corn – 4%
8. Egg – 4%
9. Pork – 2%
10. Fish – 2%
11. Rice – 2%
If you want to find out the exact cause of food allergies that are causing the hot spot, you can switch dog food brands or going home-cooked for a while
If your cute little mate is allergic to something that is present in the environments then it is called Atopic dermatitis or atopy (such as pollen, molds, grass or dust mites).
Bichon with atopic dermatitis has a propensity to have very itchy skin, usually worst on the paws, ears, tummy, and armpits. Regular scratching, thrashing, and biting make their skin red, sore and it will lead to a hotspot.
If you want to treat your cute companion for atopy treatment it often includes a special diet, medication to stop the itch on the skin of your Bichon.
If your pet is wandering without treatment, atopy can severely affect the quality of life of your Bichon but with proper and regular treatment, dogs with atopy can live a long, happy life.
Food allergies can cause skin problems with almost indistinguishable symptoms to those of atopic dermatitis.
- Itchy skin
- Infection of ear
- Rubbing themselves to furniture or the floor
- Licking or chewing their body
- Saliva marking (red/brown staining on their fur)
- Face, feet or underbelly skin rashes.
- Hair loss
- Dark and thickened skin
- Bacterial skin infections
- Yeast skin infections
- Tearful eyes.
Primary skin infections also caused by bacteria or yeast may incite the dog to scratch an area so much that a secondary hot spot forms.
Anything that irritates or breaks the skin can create the environment for bacterial contamination if the skin surface has just a bit of moisture on it.
Hot spots are also often characterized by small bumps or blisters protruding from the infected area.
If you suspect your lovely Bichon may have contracted a yeast infection, it is vital that you determine the root cause of the yeast infection in order to select the proper treatment option because it causes the hotspots.
One of the most common causes of yeast infections in bichon is trapped water or debris in the ear
canal, In addition, dogs suffering from allergies are more prone to develop yeast infections.
Yeast typically exists on the body of both humans and canines without causing any type of illness to develop; however, issues arise when there is an overabundance of fungus on the body.
Ear or skin infection:
If your cute friend has an ear infection then it’s most probably to be caused by bacteria or yeast.
The most common cause of ear infections in your adorable dog is ear mites or a skin allergy. Common symptoms are ear scratching, pain and head shaking.
If your Bichon is suffering from ear infections it is very painful so rapid treatment by a vet is essential.
There are three parts of the ear that can develop infections that are.
- External ear infections
- Middle ear infections
- Inner ear infections
Your Bichon Frise will show these symptoms when the poor soul is suffering from an ear infection.
- Vigorous head shaking
- Continuous scratching of the ear
- Red, swollen and painful ear
- The smell coming from ears
- Discharge running from the ear
- They may rub their head along the ground
- Scabs and crusting on their face and ears
- A swelling in their ear flap
- Reduction in the hearing process
Anal sac infection:
If you observe closely anal sacs are located at the four o’clock and eight o’clock positions on either side of the anus. The walls of the sac are lined with a large number of sebaceous (sweat) glands that produce a foul-smelling fluid.
The fluid is stored in the anal sacs and is released through a small duct or canal that opens just inside the anus. The anal sacs are commonly called ‘anal glands’. The sacs are present in both male and female dogs.
When dogs get injured at their anal position it will cause irritation on their sacs that will lead to rubbing of the anal area that may cause bruising over that position which will introduce bacterial attack at that place. The hot spot will appear on the body of your lovely Bichon Frise.
Your adorable Bichon has touched something that has irritated its skin its Contact dermatitis may be caused by an allergy, or it may simply mean that, such as the sap in poison ivy, or salt on a road.
It is difficult to discriminate one from the other because the symptoms usually emerge as the same.
Allergic reactions require a preceding, sensitizing incident with the irritant. When symptoms occur your Bichon has touched something that has irritated its skin.
It can happen at any age and is a direct result of the irritating nature of the aberrant compound.
If your cute Bichon is suffering from contact dermatitis it will most likely suffer from rashes and bumps which arise on the skin when it comes in contact with the ground (i.e., the chin, neck, chest, abdomen, groin, anal area, scrotum, tail, and between the toes).
These rashes may stop abruptly at the hairline. Other common symptoms include itching, which is usually severe, and swelling.
Substances that have been reported to be skin irritants are:
- Rough surfaces
- Floor waxes
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Food allergy
- Insect bites
- Bacterial infection
- Fungal infection
- Carpet and litter deodorizers
- Fungal infection
- Topical agents
- Flea collars
- Insect bites
- Parasitic hypersensitivity or infestation
- Fungal infection
- Insecticides, including newer topical flea treatments
Stress or boredom resulting in excessive licking/ Acral lick dermatitis
One of the most common things owners do that stress out their cute Bichon is Inconsistent behavior. Your cute companion is thankful for schedules and rules.
Bichon likes to know when things are going to happen according to their schedule and how they are supposed to behave.
Their internal system lets them know when it is time to wake up and go to sleep, when they are fed, and when they should expect a daily walk.
When these schedules of your Bichon changes the shift can cause stress. The best thing you can do for your dog is to establish a schedule and stick to it, as best you can.
If you will not follow the routine schedule of your adorable Bichon it will cause stress and it may lead to behavioral changes. When your Bichon is stressed out he may do things that can irritate his skin or damage it and will be the ultimate cause of hotspots.
A coat that is dirty or matted
Imagine you are going on a walk with your adorable Bichon near the lake or in the park and your Bichon started playing in the dirt or debris.
Just think about the damages it may cause to your companion’s health and skin.
Moisture trapped in the coat from swimming or bathing
On hot summer days, if you’re swimming at a lake, clean drinking water should be available for your Bichon Frise.
Even though your dog may take a quick gulp, the water in the ocean, lakes, rivers, and ponds isn’t the best option for your dog’s drinking water and for its skin.
If your Bichon got injured during the swimming and that moist hair or skin in that hot humid weather leads to hot spots.
Sign and symptoms of Hot Spots
In Bichon many skin conditions have similar symptoms, so it is important to consult your veterinarian. Hot spots are well-defined areas of redness, swelling, and hair loss.
They can occur anywhere but are most commonly seen on the head, limbs, and hips. The area that is affected is moist and may discharge pus or fluid, which can cause crusting and matting of the surrounding hair.
Hot spots are painful and very itchy for your Bichons, and will rapidly grow as scratching continues to disturb the area. Some common sign to look for are:
- Itchy area
- Continual chewing or licking at the site
- Abnormal aggression
- Redness, and swelling
- Crusted scabs
- Oozing sores
- Dry scaly skin
- Hair loss
- Moist, matted fur Foul odor from the lesion.
If you suspect your Bichon may have a hot spot, the first step is a visit to your veterinarian. While it may be tempting to wait for the hot spot to resolve on its own, delaying treatment will only make the problem worse.
In order to treat the hot spot of your Bichon effectively and prevent it from happening again, your veterinarian will need to determine the underlying cause.
They will perform a full physical examination on your dog and may recommend additional testing such as a skin scrape to look for parasites.
The most common cause of hot spots is fleas. Ensuring that your dog has been treated with adequate flea/tick prevention is key to successful treatment.
If the underlying cause is allergies it is important to try and determine what is causing the allergic reactions.
If your veterinarian suspects your poor Bichon of having a food allergy, he or she will perform a thorough physical exam and take a detailed history of your fluffy pup food intake and activities.
Your veterinarian will likely recommend a strict hypoallergenic diet trial for at least eight weeks to see if it increases your Bichon’s symptoms.
Due to intense irritation pyoderma, or a bacterial skin infection, will often develop in conjunction with a hot spot. The open, abraded, often moist skin offers a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
This bacterial skin infection can cause the development of pustules, open sores, pus, and a foul odor. Treatment with an appropriate course of antibiotics is the only way to cure this infection. Here are a variety of factors to consider when searching for the correct antibiotic to treat your pet:
- Type of infection
- Depth of infection
- Cost of antibiotic
- Administration method
- Administration frequency
- Potential Side Effects
Once the underlying cause of your dog’s itching has been diagnosed, your veterinarian will prescribe appropriate treatment.
Topical treatment of hot spot usually involves the following combinations:
- Clipping the hair around the infected area.
- Some topical or oral antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections.
- Gently, clean the infected area with antiseptic solutions.
- Use of topical or oral steroids to control inflammation and decrease itching.
- Using medicated wipes or solutions to gently clean the area daily.
- Applying an Elizabethan collar (e-collar or “cone”) to prevent continued scratching.
Once your veterinarian has started treatment for the hot spot, most Bichon improves their condition rapidly. In some cases, the hot spot is treated in 3-7 days.
Trim dog hair:
Trim the hair of your Bichon with clippers or scissors around the affected area. Your Bichon may get frightened as you clip around the affected area of pain so you may need a second person to help you out during training.
Cleaning of Infected area:
Clean the affected area of your adorable companion with a disinfectant, so your bichon may not suffer from pain or discomfort. For best results, use a product that’s specially formulated to treat hot spots.
After the cleanliness of the area applies a soothing lotion to decrease the irritation in that area. So the lovely Bichon may relive from pain.
In Bichon hot spots are a skin condition, so keep your dog’s skin healthy is the first place so to keep infections at distance.
You can make sure you don’t skip any flea treatment session. Groom your adorable Bichon regularly it also plays an important prevention role when it comes to dog hot spots.
Clip the long coats of your Bichon, when it’s hot and humid outside, it will stop moisture to get trapped close to the skin and create a favorable ground for bacteria to grow.
You should make sure to dry your pet thoroughly after swimming and not leaving a wet collar on can also help take care of some more common causes of hot spots.
Lastly, the behavior that leads to hot spots, such as scratching and irritating skin may be the result of your pet’s boredom or stress.
Consider consulting with a pet behaviorist to determine the cause of the problem. If it is behavior-related, you can use a pheromone diffuser to put your pet at ease and consult with the behaviorist for additional advice.
If your dog has a tendency to scratch when they get bored or anxious, take steps to keep them occupied and engaged. For example, these dog exercises will keep an energetic dog happy and busy for hours.
But if you suspect it’s more than just pure boredom making your dog itchier than normal, look on dog fear and anxiety for advice on how to help an anxious dog.
Although it’s impossible to banish dog hot spots forever, a little extra care will reduce the risk of them showing up. If you want to know more about what to look for when it comes to all the different canine skin conditions.
Is the condition likely to recur?
Unfortunately, Bichons that have hot spots are likely to experience recurrences. Flea control and proper bathing and grooming are your best defenses against future hot spots.
Dogs that experience chronic hot spots should be tested for hypothyroidism, skin and food allergies, joint problems, or behavioral issues.