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Acute Moist Dermatitis AKA Hot Spots: What to Know

acute moist dermatitis

What is Acute Moist Dermatitis AKA Hot Spots?

Acute moist dermatitis, best known as hot spots, is one of the most common skin conditions among dogs. Hot spots are localized areas of skin inflammation and infection. These often appear as moist, red, hot lesions on the dog’s legs, paws, chest, head, or hip area. 

Many hot spots will begin small enough that owners may mistake them for a bug bite. These lesions are incredibly itchy and painful. As the dog licks, scratches, and bites at the area, the infection can spread and continue to worsen.

Causes of Hot Spots

Several things can cause irritation and lead a dog to lick, scratch, or chew at that irritation excessively. The most common contributing factor for hot spots is bacteria — moisture and irritated skin create the ideal environment for bacteria to grow. 

Some common triggers identified by AKC include:

  • Allergies: Food and environmental allergies can both cause excessive itching in dogs.
  • Pyoderma: This means “pus in the skin” or bacterial infections of the skin. Primary skin infections caused by yeast or bacteria can cause severe itching, which often leads to secondary hot spots.
  • Pests: Insect bites can be so annoying for both people and dogs alike. Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other small insect bites can cause skin irritation and itching.
  • Ear Infections: Yeast or bacteria within the ear canal can cause dogs to scratch at the area surrounding the ears.
  • Poor Grooming: Dogs that are not groomed regularly can develop tangled or matted hair, which can lead to moisture retention and ultimately, bacterial infections.
  • Anal Gland Issue: A dog’s anal glands can become impacted or infected, causing the area to become painful and uncomfortable, resulting in excessive licking.
  • Moisture & Humidity: Hot spots are much more likely to occur during warm and humid weather. Excess moisture within the dog’s coat caused by bathing or swimming can also lead to hot spots. 
  • Behavioral Problems: Sometimes dogs lick themselves due to stress, boredom, or other behavioral or attention-seeking issues.

Signs of Hot Spots in Dogs

Because excessive itching tends to contribute to the rapid spread of infection, hot spots often grow at a fast rate over a short timeframe. Fortunately, there are many symptoms and signs of acute moist dermatitis you can look out for, including:

  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Oozing
  • Warm to touch
  • Bad odor
  • Excessive scratching
  • Hair loss

Healing Hot Spots in Dogs

Because these inflamed spots can worsen so quickly, healing hot spots in dogs ASAP is essential. While some hot spots can be treated at home, the underlying cause should always be identified by a licensed veterinarian to prevent further infection. 

It’s especially critical to seek medical assistance if you’re unable to keep your pet from licking/scratching or if the affected area is:

  1. Increasing in size
  2. Constantly bleeding
  3. Displaying any colored discharge

Depending on the severity, your veterinarian may treat the area with a combination of things such as antibiotics or anti-itch medication. Depending on the cause, additional treatment may be necessary, such as flea/tick prevention, long-term allergy medication, ear medication, and more. 

If you’re unable to get to the vet right away, PetMD shared some steps you can try at home to help heal your pet’s hot spots in the meantime. 

  1. Trim the area around the hot spot with dog hair clippers (not scissors). This will allow the affected area to get some air, and prevent excess moisture from slowing the healing process.
  2. Clean the skin with a mild, dog-safe, water-based antiseptic spray or wipe, or an antibacterial shampoo.
  3. Apply a veterinary-recommended hot spot treatment spray that is safe if ingested. 
  4. Place an e-collar, or “the cone of shame,” on your dog to help prevent them from biting, licking, or scratching the hot spot.
  5. Monitor the area for improvement and signs of healing (decreased redness, less moisture, smaller lesion size).

Note: Human medications such as Neosporin, hydrocortisone, and Vaseline should NOT be used. Topical creams and ointments tend to cause dogs to lick the area even more, so they should be avoided if possible.

In some cases, you can help at home by treating your dog to regular flea prevention, regular grooming (especially after swimming), preventing ear infections by administering maintenance ear cleansers, and treating allergies if need be. Additionally, try to avoid boredom. Decrease excess licking behaviors by providing your pet with interactive toys. Finally, the key to healing hot spots in dogs or preventing further acute moist dermatitis is determining the underlying cause. Consult with your veterinarian or visit one of our 21 Arizona PetVet locations closest to you.

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. 

How to Read & Understand Pet Food Labels

pet food labels

Understanding Ingredients on Pet Food Labels

Taking care of pets means understanding ingredients on pet food labels, knowing what to look for on pet food labels, and why the ingredients matter. While most of us scan the basics of the packaging, labels are cluttered with information and small print, so it’s not always easy to tell what’s most important. All claims on pet foods are required to be truthful, and every product must undergo regulatory scrutiny and approval on federal and sometimes state-by-state levels before it ever lands on retailer shelves. The front of a package must include brand and product name, species the food is intended for, and the quantity statement. It will often feature bright logos, graphics, and enticing photos or illustrations. The back and side panels will contain a variety of other information, including the food label and nutritional breakdown. Here’s a simple guide to reading food labels that can help take the guesswork out of pet food and treat purchases.

Guide to Reading Food Labels

All pet food labels follow the same basic format, but they can still be confusing for many customers. Once you know the most important things to look for, you’ll be able to choose the right foods and treats for your pet. If you’re not sure what food is right for your pet or if they have particular conditions or special needs like weight control, always consult with your veterinarian.

What Must Be on Pet Food Labels

  1. Product and brand name, species, and/or other unique identifiers. Many pet owners will base their buying decision on a specific ingredient their pet likes, like chicken, beef, or salmon. Most brands will try to highlight that particular ingredient in the product name. 
    • Words to watch for on pet food labels: AND, WITH, flavor, and descriptive qualifying terms like dinner, entrée, feast, stew, or platter. Each of these differences correlates to percentages of ingredients by weight or volume. These words tend to signal smaller primary and individual ingredient quantities, so understanding ingredients and how they are listed and described is essential.
    • The 95 Percent Rule: In order to name a product that includes a specific ingredient, i.e. Savory Chicken Dog Food or Salmon Cat Food, the food must contain 95 percent of the named ingredient by weight and must be at least 70 percent of the total product when added water is factored in. 
    • The 25 Percent Rule: Products named Chicken Dinner for Dogs, Salmon and Sweet Potato Entrée, or Lamb and Vegetable Stew, for example, must contain at least 25 percent of the product (not counting the water for processing), but less than 95 percent. In this case, the product name must include a qualifying term, such as dinner, entrée, or platter. When counting added water, the named ingredients must comprise at least 10 percent of the product. If more than one ingredient is included in a “dinner,” the combination of the named ingredients must total 25 percent of the product and be listed in the exact same order as found on the package ingredient list.
  2. Product weight, liquid measure, or count, depending on the food formulation. Savvy pet food purchasers know that these measures will vary by the type and density of the product. These are included in metric measures by law. If you’re not sure if a particular food or treat is worth the price tag, do a cost-per-ounce or cost-per-pound comparison between your choices. It’s OK to choose something in the middle range.
  3. Guaranteed Analysis: Specifies the number of specific nutrients from crude protein to crude fat to moisture, vitamins, and minerals and any added flavors or ingredients. Guarantees for other nutrients may be required to support any claims made in labeling (High Calcium Formula or other benefits). These can include voluntary guarantees for other nutrients. All guarantees must be given in a particular order, specified units, and as a minimum or maximum, depending on the nutrient.
  4. Ingredients listed in order of highest weight to lowest. Understanding ingredients is easy but can get more complex if you really dig into the details of “defined names” for added flavors and colors. By law, the ingredient making up the highest percentage of the total weight is always listed first, followed by the next highest, and so on. All ingredients used must be GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), approved food additives, or otherwise sanctioned for use in animal feeds (i.e., as defined by AAFCO, a pet food industry regulatory body). Ingredients must also be declared by the correct AAFCO-defined name if it exists. If not, the “common or usual” name customers might expect must be used.
  5. Nutritional adequacy statement. These must be backed by professional lab testing that confirms the food provides a certain level of nutrients suitable for consumption. These may also include values for the appropriate life stages (puppy/kitten, adult, senior, weight control, etc.).
  6. Feeding directions and guidelines by weight range. Feeding frequency must also be clearly stated. All pet foods labeled as “complete and balanced” for life stages or general use must include feeding directions stating “Feed (XX amount of product) per (weight) of dog/cat” per day. Feeding directions are optional for treats, but all must be labeled as snacks or treats.
  7. Manufacturer name and address. This may also include a general number for customer service contact. If someone else makes the product for the company, the words “manufactured for” or “distributed by” will be included before the address.

Remember, marketing for pets is very similar to that of people, and everything on pet food labels is carefully worded and designed to attract the buyer’s attention. Since pets don’t have wallets and they can’t really shop for themselves (unless it’s helping themselves to enticing treats or toys in open boxes at lower levels at the pet store), it’s up to each pet owner to choose the best foods and treats to meet the dietary needs of their pets throughout their lifetime. If you’re still unsure how to read pet food labels and choose the right food for your pet, consult with your veterinarian.

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

Ways to Celebrate Your Pet All Year Round

Party Animals – How to Get Creative with Celebrating Your Pet

As a pet parent, it’s our responsibility to shower our beloved companions with love and appreciation every day. However, there may be some special occasions where we want to go above and beyond our regular duties to show them just how much we care. These occasions can include birthdays, adoption days, and holidays. So, how do you make these days extra special for your special friend? Luckily, with a little planning and creativity, there are plenty of unique ways to celebrate a significant occasion for your pet that they will be sure to love.

Give Them a Gift

Nothing says “I love you” like a brand new gift! Surprise your friend with a new toy, treat, or food to show your appreciation. The change in their routine or environment will be extra exciting for them, and they will love you for it. If you have a dog, try giving them a new kind of chew toy that will stand the test of time. Recognize how your pup likes to play and find a toy that suits them best. If they prefer to play tug of war, look for a toy that you can use together. If your furry friend prefers to play fetch, search for a toy that you can throw a greater distance to let them run. For cats, you can never go wrong with toys that test their natural instincts, such as wand toys that have an enticing dangling piece.

When in doubt, take your pet to your local pet store and let them pick out their own toy. Your companion will love the mini-trip and will be sure to love whatever they pick out.

Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts can be a great way to bond with your pet. Whether it’s making them a homemade gift or creating something together, taking time out of your day to spend time together is a great way to celebrate your pet and make their day special. For some DIY pet presents, try your hand at creating a homemade bowtie for their collar, a new tug-of-war toy for your pup, or a new wand toy for your cat. Making these gifts yourself will make them that much more special for you and your pet.

If you’re in an artsy mood, purchase some non-toxic washable paints, paintbrushes, and a canvas. Using your pet as your muse, paint a portrait of your furry friend on the canvas. To top it off, put some of the paint on a plate, dip your pet’s paw in it, and have them stamp their paws on the portrait. Not feeling up to the task of trying to paint your pet’s portrait? Just dip their paws in different colored paints, then press their feet on different parts of the canvas for a rainbow of pawprints. Whichever way you go, you’ll be sure to create some pawsome masterpieces.

Host a Mini Pet Party

Feeling like a party animal? Then celebrate your pet by throwing them a party! Create a VIP (Very Important Pet) guest list filled with their best friends. To go all-out, decorate your home with streamers, balloons, and pictures of your pet. Make sure to have plenty of enticing toys out so your furry friend and their pals can have a blast. To top it off, document the occasion with a pet photoshoot — party hats are encouraged!

Whether it’s a special occasion or you just want to show some extra love, there are always plenty of ways to celebrate your furry companion. Don’t be afraid to get creative and above all — have fun!

[DISCLAIMER] Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

Pet Entertainment – Best Chew Toys to Keep Your Pet Happy & Engaged

Best Pet Chew Toys for Dogs & Puppies

As many pet parents know, finding the perfect pet chew toy for your furry friend can seem like an impossible task. Just like humans, each pup has its unique personality, desires, and interests, which can significantly impact what kind of toys they prefer. On top of this, some dogs need high-quality toys that can pretty much withstand going through a woodchipper. As many pet owners know, without quality and durability in a toy, you might come home to find it torn to bits while your dog watches you with big, innocent “I didn’t do it” eyes from the couch.

However, you don’t need to burn a hole in your wallet while on the search for the best dog toy. By recognizing your furry friend’s unique interests and personality, you can quickly identify the pet toys that they will be sure to love.

Best Toys for Hyper Dogs

If your dog requires lots of long walks, runs, and plenty of playtime to burn off some energy, then you need to invest in dog toys built for hyper pups. These toys help them work up a sweat, without you having to sweat too much yourself. For dogs that have a little more energy than the rest, consider pet toys that are easy to pick up and throw long distances. While balls can be great, frisbees also make for a fun alternative to bring with you whenever you visit the dog park. You can easily throw a frisbee a greater distance, while still having the ability to play some light tug-of-war to entice your pup to play. Plus, if your furry friend likes to swim, then you can easily find a multi-purpose frisbee that will float on the water.

If you need a break from playtime but your pup is still ready to play fetch, consider purchasing a ball thrower. These accessories take the hassle out of doggie recess by acting as an extension of your arm. Just scoop up the ball with the thrower and launch it further and faster. This toy is an excellent option for hyperactive pups that can play for what feels like hours.

 Most Durable Chew Toys for Puppies

Puppies experience a period of rapid development during the first 2 to 10 months of their life where their little fuzzy bodies drastically grow and change. Along with this development comes the fun stage of teething where puppy teeth make way for the adult teeth. This stage brings much discomfort for their gums and causes them to chew on shoes, pillows, chairs, and whatever else they can get their little jaws on.

Due to the teething stage, the best pet toys for puppies are ones that are durable, enticing, and encourage good behavior. For example, if you want to discourage your pup from ripping apart your shoes, avoid teething toys shaped like everyday items, such as squeaky sneakers. Consider KONG toys as an alternative as they are made with strong, non-toxic rubber that’s also dishwasher safe.

Another great way to help soothe sore gums is by investing in chewy toys that can be frozen to provide cooling relief during the teething process. Find a puppy chew toy that you can fill with 100 percent purified water, pop it in the freezer for a bit, and let your little furry friend chew away.

 Best Toys for Dogs that Get Bored Easily

While nothing can replace the true value of quality one-on-one playtime with your pup, sometimes your furry friend wants to play when you’re away. When your dog gets bored while at home alone, it can lead to unfavorable behaviors such as tearing up your belongings or rummaging through the trash. To entertain your dog even while you’re away, consider investing in some durable and fun puzzle toys for your pet.

Puzzle toys often hold treats or little pieces of food to encourage your pup to play. These toys can be as simple as food dispensing balls that require your dog to roll them around to retrieve the food, to something as complex as a puzzle with levers to reveal treats. Depending on your dog’s personality and level of patience, there’s a perfect puzzle toy for every pooch to enjoy.

You don’t need to spend tons of money to find the best pet chew toy for your furry friend. By recognizing your pup’s unique personality and interests, you can easily find the perfect match for them that will keep those tails wagging and stand the test of time.

Know the History and What Were Beagles Bred For

A Brief History of Beagles: From Hunters to Family Dogs

With big floppy ears and the signature multi-colored coat — Beagles are just as fun-
loving and sweet as they appear! If you are looking to welcome a new pup into your
family, a Beagle could be an excellent choice. This breed is loving, curious, and
extremely loyal — you’ll never have a dull day with a Beagle in your home.

What Were Beagles Bred For?

With a short yet sturdy body, this breed is built to be the ultimate hunting
companion. Due to their keen sense of smell, Beagles were originally bred as hound
dogs for hunting small game. Interestingly, the pups were being bred for specific
hunting needs; they were taller in Europe for fox hunting and smaller in the United
States to hunt rabbits.

History of Beagles

The history of the Beagle is not as precise as some other breeds we have profiled.
While ancient Greek documents place Beagle-like dogs as far back as 400 B.C., the
breed, as we know it now, was not formally recognized until the 19th century. During
this time, Beagles were very popular in England, and it wasn’t much longer before
the breed became a favorite in the United States. The American Kennel Club (AKC)
started recognizing the Beagle as a breed in 1884. Today, they are a consistently
popular choice for family dogs, appearing regularly on the AKC’s Top Ten Most
Popular Dog Breeds.

Different Beagle Breeds

While there is technically only one breed of Beagle, there are two different varieties
of Beagles that are recognized by the American Kennel Club. The only feature that
separates the two varieties is their size. One type stands below 13 inches tall while
the other stands between 13 to 15 inches tall. Other than the slight difference in
height, no other physical or personality traits differ between these two varieties of
Beagles. Both types can — and should — weigh anywhere between 18 and 30 pounds.
Since this breed is susceptible to weight problems in their old age, it’s important
to maintain their activity levels as they age.

Beagles are black, brown, and white in color and are relatively easy to care for in
regards to grooming. A proper brushing once a week will cut down on the amount
of bathing they need unless they are used for hunting. They do, however, need to
have their ears checked frequently to help avoid infections.

Beagle Behavior

Beagles do best in homes that have backyards, allowing them the freedom to
wander around. While all dogs should be microchipped, it’s very important for
Beagles because their mischievous behavior can get the best of them. Beagles
follow their noses, so if they escape the yard, they can wander further from
home in pursuit of whatever scent is enticing them. Do your best to get them
outside and exercising, which should cut down on some of their pent-up energy and
keep them on their best behavior in the house.

Beagles of all ages do well in homes with adults, kids, and other pets. They are at
their best in extremely social settings and typically do not like being left home
alone. If they become bored, they will find things to occupy their time until you
return, which can include chewing shoes and furniture.

Beagles are a smart, curious, and energetic breed that packs a lot of love and
sweetness into a small package. Caution: don’t think there won’t be moments where
you are driven utterly crazy by their mischievous behavior! Please remember —
purebred Beagles are popular and lucrative “products” for puppy mills. There are
many wonderful Beagle rescue organizations and animal advocates working hard to
prevent the puppy mills from mass breeding. Consider adopting from a local Beagle