Hero Rats Learn to Save Pangolins

By: Stephanie Carnow

Hero Rats

Arwen ready to work.

Arwen’s whiskers fluttered vigorously as she gobbled down a mouthful of banana—her reward for a job well done. To accommodate her misshapen left ear, she was fitted with a new candy apple red vest and was now showing real promise in her training. Like all African giant pouched rats, Arwen’s highly developed sense of smell can rival even a bloodhound; she is learning to use her powerful nose to distinguish specific scents. If successful, Arwen will join a new cohort of APOPO’s aptly named “HeroRATs,” who are using their olfactory super powers to fight wildlife crime.

The title of HeroRAT is no exaggeration. For years, these animals have saved lives by detecting landmines and tuberculosis. By distinguishing the scent of TNT from metal, HeroRATs zero in on buried landmines in a fraction of the time it takes metal detectors, and they are too light to trigger detonations. Similarly, HeroRATs are trained to detect tuberculosis in patient sputum samples dramatically faster than lab technicians, thus accelerating diagnoses and treatment. Now, the nonprofit APOPO is training HeroRATs to save endangered wildlife, in partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). They are starting with pangolins, the world’s most trafficked mammals.

Hero Rats - APOPO

APOPO trains African giant pouched rats to detect smuggled pangolin scales.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of pangolins are poached and trafficked for their meat and scales. Relentless poaching has not only put pangolins on the precipice of extinction, it threatens human health; researchers have evidence that suggests it was through pangolin consumption that COVID-19 transferred to people. Ending the wildlife crime that is decimating pangolins requires shutting down the trafficking networks that move pangolins into the black market.

If HeroRATs can detect smuggled pangolin parts, they can be deployed to shipping ports, airports, national parks, and along country borders to help thwart traffickers. Because HeroRATs are small and light, they can climb up high stacks of crates and maneuver between tight containers, covering far more ground than dogs, who have more commonly been deployed to sniff out contraband moving across borders.

APOPO is training ten HeroRATs, including Arwen, to explore shipping containers and alert their handler if they smell pangolin scales. The rats wear a special vest equipped with a small ball; when they smell pangolin, they pull on the ball, which flips a microswitch alerting the handler. The next step is to get the rats out of the lab and into the field.

In early 2020, the Pangolin Crisis Fund (PCF) made a grant to APOPO in partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) to help advance this program towards real-world deployment, specifically in Tanzania’s ports including the Dar es-Salaam seaport—a major hub for wildlife products going from Africa to Asia. With PCF funding, EWT and APOPO have also been developing relationships with port authorities, to hopefully introduce the rats and acclimate them to these new environments.

Hero Rats - HeroRAT alert

At the smell of pangolin scales, HeroRATS alert their handlers by pulling on a ball attached to their vests.

Arwen and her fellow HeroRATs are getting more efficient at identifying wildlife products and APOPO is planning to deploy them to ports and parks in the next year. Early results from this program have been truly encouraging, and if any animal needs a hero right now, it’s the pangolin.


Source: WCN

Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation

Dung Beatles

It’s time for my yearly reminder to everybody that a study was done at the Johannesburg Planetarium in 2013 where they discovered that dung beetles navigate their giant rolling balls of poo by using the Milky Way in the sky as a guide.
The best part was that they made wee little hats for the beetles (pictured).

Dogs trained to sniff out patients with COVID-19

Dogs sniff out patients with COVID-19

Study suggests dogs can detect when people are infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

Extending Your Hand for ‘The Sniff Test’ Is Not the Way to Introduce Yourself to a New Dog

By Kelli Bender 

The Sniff Test

A popular Facebook post and a dog trainer to the stars are debunking the popular “sniff test” as the right way to introduce yourself to a new dog.

Many learn, one way or another, that when you meet a new dog, the correct way to introduce yourself is by extending your hand towards the dog’s face and letting the pup sniff you.

“In the human culture, extending a hand to someone we just met means a sign of friendship, so naturally we do it with dogs when we first meet them,” Tamar Geller, a dog trainer with A-list clients like Ben Affleck, Lady Gaga, Reese Witherspoon, Mark Wahlberg, and their canines, tells PEOPLE. But this introduction often called “The Sniff Test”, Geller notes, is not the way to go when meeting a new pooch.

Many more are starting to realize this thanks to a viral Facebook post from Eureka Dog Services, a dog training company. In a detailed post from August 9, which went on to get over 67,000 shares, Eureka Dog Services asks readers to use their manners and to stop doing “The Sniff Test” when approaching new dogs because the test is “a badly ingrained habit that society has been taught, without a clear understanding of what they’re actually doing.”

The post goes on to list the reasons why “The Sniff Test” is the wrong approach, including that the gesture is not usually matched with permission from the dog’s owner to approach the pet and that it is easy for canines to feel cornered and threatened by the body posture, which often involves walking up to a dog and extending a hand towards their face.

The Sniff Test

Geller, who offers her dog training services through her site The Loved Dog and can also be found on Instagram @TheLovedDog, agrees that “The Sniff Test” is not the way to approach a new pup.

“Dogs can get scared when someone is reaching towards them with their hand, and I would not advise doing that, unless they are holding a super yummy treat, to send the message that they are a source of pleasure. Having a treat and offering it to the dog, even just tossing it to them (without looking directly at them) is an awesome gesture of friendship,” Geller says.

She added that the most important step before approaching a dog you’ve never met is asking for permission to touch the dog, even if you think “all dogs love me,” because each pooch is unique and has their own comfort level with strangers and handling.

“The doggie may not be comfortable with being touched by strangers, and will react in one of 3 ways: freeze, run away, or nip. All 3 behaviors are because of one reason: the dog was nervous to be touched by a stranger like we would be if an unfamiliar person started touching us,” Gellar summarizes.

The first step in approaching a new animal should always be to ask the owner’s permission to touch their pet and to listen to what the owner tells you. If you do get permission to introduce yourself to a new dog, Gellar recommends taking things slow and focusing on your body language.

“It’s so much easier to communicate when you know the other’s language, and in this case, the doggie’s language is based on body posture and facial expressions. The right thing to do is to turn your body and your face away at a 45-degree angle and smile,” Gellar says.

“A dog naturally knows that he can’t become prey to someone who is not looking at him. With that information, and feeling a bit safer, a dog can start investigating the new person that came into their space,” she adds. “They may do what I call ‘Rubberband legs’ where they stretch their body forward while leaving their back legs in the same spot, so if something goes wrong, they could quickly get back like a rubber band.”

It is also up to dog owners to take control of the situations when their pets are meeting new people, and Gellar has advice for them as well.

“As a dog behavior expert, I ask my clients to have special treats each time the dog encounters a stranger. I also ask them to ask the stranger to NOT touch their doggie, until the “paw”rent smiles and gives a treat to the doggie while saying the word ‘Frieeeeend’ in a sing-song tone of voice, to help the dog associate the situation with pleasure,” Gellar shares. “Once the dog is more relaxed, I would give the treat to the stranger and ask them to toss the treat to the doggie, while looking away at a 45-degree angle. Make sure to let the doggie go to the stranger, and not let them go to the doggie first. Shortly after, with most dogs, there is a super happy interaction between the dog and the stranger.”

Source: People

Why people still buy flat-faced dogs despite major health risks

Flat-faced dogs’ physiology can lead to a host of health problems

SURVEY SAYS — Previous studies have looked at why dog owners first decide to get a brachycephalic breed, despite the risk of health problems. For example, the “baby schema effect” suggests that humans are drawn to brachycephalic breeds’ faces because they resemble human infant faces. In adult humans, those features trigger positive emotions and an impulse to nurture, research shows.

The new study follows up to ask why dog owners keep coming back for more.

The team of researchers surveyed the owners of pugs, French bulldogs, and English bulldogs. They used statistical modeling to discover trends across owners of the brachycephalic breeds. The research showed that owners more strongly bonded with their dogs were more likely to get the same breed again and to recommend their breed to others.

In contrast, dog owners whose pets had more health or behavior problems were less likely to reacquire or recommend the same breed.

In all, FIVE THEMES explained owners’ reservations about the dogs:

  1. High prevalence of health problems
  2. Expensive to own
  3. Ethical issues related to breeding
  4. Negative effects on owner’s lifestyle
  5. Negative behavior attributes

The researchers also gathered data about why people remain loyal to their flat-faced pups. The dogs make good companion, are well-suited to small living spaces, and are good with kids, owners said.

OWNER ADVICE — Understanding the “behavioral niche” these dogs fill can help to persuade owners to buy lower-risk breeds in the future, Packer says.

By hearing directly from owners, she hopes would-be dog owners find the argument against getting a brachycephalic breed more convincing.

Respondents were surprisingly honest about their reasons for choosing these dogs — like the perception that they are lazy, so don’t need to be walked, Packer says.

English bulldogs are among the flat-faced breeds that researchers say are having a popularity boom.

“Their honesty is interesting as it might indicate that it is in fact not culturally seen as taboo to desire a dog that does not ‘need’ to be walked,” Packer says.

“In reality, all dogs need some form of time outside for exercise and/or sensory enrichment, so the ‘lazy’ image of brachycephalic breeds is a dangerous misconception to perpetuate.”

Even getting a brachycephalic dog from a shelter has its problems, Packer says. While it beats going to a breeder, or supporting a puppy farm or illegal importer, the cultural influence of owning a flat-faced dog is real.

“The flip side of this is that by owning a brachycephalic breed, you may unintentionally influence others to want to own one too – children and adults alike are often lured in by their ‘cuteness’ and will flock towards them when out on a walk,” Packer says.

Packer’s team says the new findings can help to inform discussions with veterinarians and other animal health professionals when they are counseling dog parents-to-be on breed selection.

“Purchasing a brachycephalic breed with health problems is not just ‘bad luck’ – brachycephalic breeds have problems from head to tail and avoiding them is extremely difficult,” Packer says.

“You can avoid nearly all of these problems entirely by picking a more moderate breed, with a healthy body shape.”

Abstract: Brachycephalic breeds are proliferating internationally, with dramatic rises in popularity juxtaposed with common and severe breed-related health problems. Physical appearance is as a dominant factor attracting owners to brachycephalic breeds; however, whether these owners will choose their current breed for future ownership and develop ‘breed-loyalty’ in the face of health problems is not yet known. The aims of this study were (1) to quantify levels of, and explore factors associated with, brachycephalic dog owners’ intentions to: (i) reacquire and/or (ii) recommend their current breed to potential first-time dog owners, and (2) to use qualitative methods to explore why brachycephalic dog owners would or would not recommend their current breed. This large mixed methods study reports on 2168 owners of brachycephalic breeds (Pugs: n = 789; French Bulldog: n = 741; Bulldogs: n = 638). Owners were highly likely to want to own their breed again in the future (93.0%) and recommend their breed to other owners (65.5%). Statistical modelling identified that first-time ownership and increased strength of the dog-owner relationship increased the likelihood of reacquisition and/or recommendation. In contrast, an increased number of health problems, positive perception of their dog’s health compared with the rest of their breed, and dog behaviour being worse than expected decreased the likelihood of reacquisition and/or recommendation. Thematic analyses constructed three themes describing why owners recommend their breed: positive behavioural attributes for a companion dog, breed suited to a sedentary lifestyle with limited space, and suitability for households with children. Five themes described why owners recommended against their breed: high prevalence of health problems, expense of ownership, ethical and welfare issues associated with breeding brachycephalic dogs, negative effects upon owner lifestyle and negative behavioural attributes. Understanding how breed-loyalty develops, and whether it can be attenuated, will be key to controlling the current population boom in brachycephalic breeds in the long-term.

Source: Inverse

Residents urged not to dump bunnies in fields and parks

Residents urged not to dump bunnies

Bunny Tales Rescue

Community members are being asked not to dump or leave their pet bunnies in parks and fields around Cape Town, as this has become a problem in recent months that has led to colonies and painful deaths.

According to Bunny Tales Rescue, a local organisation that rescues and cares for bunnies in need, more and more people are abandoning their bunnies in fields and parks and putting them in danger.

“We truly can’t understand why people will release house pets to live in the streets, let them fend for themselves and be out there under all sorts of elements and predators. We notice people usually like to dump them in parks or recreational centres because there are already colonies there, so many people think those feral bunnies live well and in consequence their unwanted bunnies will too so they just released them there,” says Anabel and Michael Tout from Bunny Tales Rescue.

Releasing bunnies often leads to uncontrollable colony numbers and it only takes two bunnies to start a whole colony. The majority of bunny dumping is caused by misconceptions that bunnies are good pets for small children and easy to care for.

“People keep dumping them in many places and pretty much you can find feral bunnies anywhere. In some places people consider them as pests because they breed so quickly. We really want to encourage people to please do some research before getting bunnies because there are lots of misconceptions about them like they are easy pets, they good start pets for kids, they are cuddly and a cheap option. All those conceptions are actually the opposite, bunnies are highly intelligent and sensitive so they need space, training, enrichment and to bond with their humans,” adds Anabel and Michael.

Bunnies can also rack up quite a bill when it comes to care, diet and other expenses. The care that these little critters need is often too much for children as well. Many people realise too late how difficult it is to care for these animals and end up releasing them to be killed by cars, predators or starvation. The practice of releasing these animals into parks and fields is also illegal.

“It is a lot of work so kids won’t be able to care for them without parents help. Finally bunnies need to get sterilized even get same genders or only one because bunnies can get quite hormonal and territorial once the hormones kick in when they reach maturity.

“People also need to understand bunnies are domestic animals and like any pet they face so many dangers when they left outside. Bunnies can get ran over, kill by dogs or cats, predators like owls or genets can get them and on top of all of that they struggle to find food and water as well as shelter. Many of them won’t survive the first few months and they will face a very painful death,” they said.

Residents are being encouraged to surrender unwanted bunnies rather than release them.

“Our rescue is happy to help to re-home unwanted rabbits sharing in our page and making sure the bunny goes to the right home,” they added.

The Bunny Tales Rescue organisation takes in a number of bunnies in need and is always in need of support to give their furry friends the care they deserve.

You can donate using the banking details below:

Bunny Tales Rescue
First National Bank
Branch Code 201509
Account number 62529691992
Reference: FS+your name

Source: www.capetownetc.com

New EU rule says cosmetics MUST be tested on animals despite the chemicals being used in hundreds of ‘cruelty free’ products supported by ambassadors such as Leona Lewis

New EU rule

Eurocrats insist chemicals used in many ‘cruelty-free’ cosmetics must be tested on animals, as protesters say it destroys EU-wide ban on animal experiments for cosmetics (file photo)

  • Eurocrats said chemicals in ‘cruelty-free’ cosmetics must be tested on animals
  • Protesters say it destroys the EU-wide ban on animal experiments for cosmetics
  • The two chemicals are used by High Street brands Dove, Body Shop and L’Oreal

Eurocrats have torpedoed the sale of ‘cruelty-free’ cosmetics by insisting that chemicals used in many popular High Street brands must be tested on animals.

Protesters say the decision by the European Chemicals Agency effectively destroys the EU-wide ban on animal experiments for cosmetics.

The two chemicals involved are used in hundreds of ‘cruelty-free’ products such as sunscreens, face moisturisers and lip balm, including products from Body Shop, Dove, L’Oreal and Estée Lauder.

Julia Baines, the science policy manager at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), said: ‘As a direct result of these rulings, more than 5,500 rats, rabbits and fish are required to be used in new tests.

‘Yet consumers and the European Parliament have consistently demanded the cosmetics ban on animal testing must not be compromised.’

Under the testing regime, hundreds of pregnant rabbits or rats will be fed the chemicals before being killed and, in some cases, their unborn offspring dissected. The results will be shared with chemical companies which supply the cosmetics industry.

Animal testing for cosmetics and their ingredients was prohibited in the UK in 1998. 

The ban became EU-wide in 2013 but the European Chemicals Agency, a branch of the EU, now claims that separate regulations on the use of chemicals means substances still must be tested, even if exclusively for cosmetic use, to assess any risks to workers on the production line.

The two chemicals involved in this case are the ultra-violet filters homosalate and 2-ethylhexyl salicylate, also known as octisalate. Both have already been approved by EU safety watchdogs for use in cosmetics and are widely used in hundreds of popular cosmetic products.

Consumer giant Unilever last night condemned the European Chemicals Agency’s decision and warned it may now be forced to reformulate some of its cosmetic products. 

Its safety chief Julia Fentem said: ‘We don’t agree that animal testing is necessary to protect workers and the environment, and strongly encourage the use of non-animal data.  

New EU rule

Brands such as The Body Shop have long campaigned against animal testing, recruiting celebrity ambassadors such as Leona Lewis (above) who share their concerns

‘We support calls for a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics and a growing number of our brands, including Dove, are certified by Peta. If animal testing becomes a requirement for any existing ingredient used in our products, it will be necessary to reformulate.’

And brands such as The Body Shop have long campaigned against animal testing, recruiting celebrity ambassadors such as Leona Lewis who share their concerns. 

Last year, the company delivered a petition with 8.3 million signatures to the United Nations, calling for a global end to animal testing in cosmetics.

The European Chemicals Agency first issued its ruling, which required the German cosmetics manufacturer Symrise to conduct animal tests on the two chemicals, in March 2018.

The firm lodged an appeal saying the ruling breached the EU animal testing ban, but that has just been rejected. Andrew Fasey, a member of the board of appeal, conceded: ‘I don’t expect that everyone will agree entirely with these decisions.’

The regulations will apply in the UK during the Brexit transition period, which ends on December 31, after which the Government intends to put in place its own rules.

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk

The court case all dog owners in South Africa should know about

court case

A new judgement from the Supreme Court of Appeal will have major implications on the rights and responsibilities of dog owners in South Africa.

The judgement, which was handed down on Friday (11 September), revolved around a gardener and refuse collector, who was was attacked without any warning or reason by three dogs on the street.

His injuries were serious and resulted in the loss of his left arm. He said that he did not do anything to provoke the dogs and he was lawfully present in the public road where the attack took place. He subsequently instituted a claim for R2.4 million for damages.

The owners of the dogs were not home at the time of the attack and denied liability.

The basis for this defence was that the dogs had been locked inside the property, but an intruder must have tried to gain access through a locked gate, broken both padlocks fastening it and either left the gate open or in a state where the dogs could open it.

SCA ruling

The victim’s claim was based on the legal principle dating back to the Roman Law, known as the ‘actio de pauperie‘ – which holds that the owner of a domesticated animal is ordinarily held strictly liable for harm caused by that animal.

Under this action, the injured party does not have to prove negligence on their part and a victim of a dog bite can claim damages from a dog owner without having to prove fault.

In its ruling, the SCA said that there are three recognised defences to such a claim:

  • That the injured party was in a place where they had no right to be;
  • The animal was provoked either by the injured party or a third party;
  • That custody and control of the animal has passed to a third party who negligently failed to prevent the animal from causing the harm.

The owner’s argument that these defences should be extended to include any situation where the harm was caused by negligence on the part of any third party was rejected by the court.

It held that constitutional norms did not justify such an extension and that where harm is caused by a domesticated animal, it is in principle appropriate that responsibility for that harm rests with the owner of the animal and not the injured party.

“If anything, with the growth of urban living, the vastly increased number of pet animals, especially dogs, in our towns and cities and the opportunities for harm that they pose, that view of where the interests of justice lie has been strengthened,” the court said.

“People are entitled to walk our streets without having to fear being attacked by dogs and, where such attacks occur, they should in most circumstances be able to look to the owner of the dog for recompense.”

The SCA subsequently dismissed the appeal by the dog owner and found that he was liable to compensate the victim for injuries.

Source: www.businesstech.co.za

Bromethalin Intoxication in Dogs & Cats – Not Your Typical Rodenticide

I love mice and rats. I think they make great first pets for children. I also know not everybody shares my adoration for these rodents. Indeed, many go out of the way to expunge them from their homes, employing various traps and poisons. One common type of rodenticide contains a toxic chemical called bromethalin. When ingested by dogs and cats, major complications and death are possible. Given bromethalin-containing rodenticides have become increasingly popular, I’ve dedicated some space to share information about this important intoxication.

Bromethalin Intoxication

Bromethalin is a fat-soluble chemical that causes a process called uncoupled oxidative phosphorylation. Common products that contain bromethalin are:

  • Fastrac Blox™
  • Fastrac Pellets™
  • Talpririd Mole Bait™
  • Gladiator™
  • Motomco Tomcat™
  • Rampage™


After absorption by the gastrointestinal tract, bromethalin is metabolized to a more potent chemical called desmethylbromethalin. It’s this metabolite that wreaks havoc on the body, particularly the nervous system and liver. Within the nervous system (including the brain), uncoupled oxidative phosphorylation prevents cells from making adequate energy (in the form of adenosine triphosphate or ATP). Without enough energy to power the various important chemical pumps (i.e.: sodium/potassium ATPase) in nervous tissue, brain cells swell (called cytotoxic and intramyelinic edema). Uncontrolled brain swelling ultimately leads to death. The reported lethal dose (LD50) is 4.7 mg/kg and 0.54-1.8 mg/kg for dogs and cats, respectively.

Bromethalin – What does intoxication look like?

Intoxication can be categorized as either acute or chronic based on the amount of bromethalin ingested. Acute intoxication develops when pets ingest more than two times the LD50 dose. Clinical signs are typically seen within 8-12 hours, but may be observed within a couple of hours of ingestion. Common clinical signs include:

  • Hyperexcitability
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Unsteadiness in the pelvic limbs (called ataxia)
  • Weakness
  • Unequal pupil size (called anisocoria)
  • Blindness
  • Abnormal eye movement (called nystagmus)
  • Coma

When dogs ingest a single LD50 dose or multiple doses below the lethal one, they develop chronic toxicosis. Clinical signs may show up within 12-24 hours, but they can manifest four to seven days post-ingestion. Clinical signs typically include lethargy, weakness in the pelvic limbs, vomiting, uneven pupil size, nystagmus, paralysis in the pelvic limbs, and abnormal mentation.

Bromethalin – How is intoxication diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made based on suspected or known ingestion of a bromethalin-containing product and consistent clinical signs. Pet parents may see colored dye in the feces of animals that have ingested toxic products. Screening blood and urine tests are recommended to look for evidence of other organ dysfunction. Measuring bromethalin is possible but is impractical clinically due to the long turn-around time for results. Although rarely performed, advanced imaging of the brain (i.e.: magnetic resonance imaging / MRI) would show changes consistent with brain swelling called cerebral edema.

Bromethalin – How is intoxication treated?

To date, there is no known antidote for bromethalin intoxication. Therefore, prompt identification and treatment are essential. If an intoxicated pet is presented within four hours of ingestion, veterinarians will induce vomiting. They will then administer multiple doses of a drug called activated charcoal that helps prevent absorption of bromethalin in the intestinal tract. As bromethalin is a fat-soluble substance, infusion of fat emulsion fluid called Intralipid™ can dramatically reduce toxicity. Medicines to control tremors and to reduce tissue swelling – particularly in the brain – may be indicated.

Intralipid can be infused intravenously to help reduce bromethalin toxicity

Intralipid can be infused intravenously to help reduce bromethalin toxicity

The take-away message about bromethalin intoxication in dogs & cats…

Bromethalin is not your typical rodenticide. It doesn’t cause uncontrolled bleeding, but rather causes uncoupled oxidative phosphorylation. The result is tissue swelling and dysfunction, particularly in the nervous system. With timely identification and treatment of intoxication, good outcomes are possible.

Source: CriticalCareDVM




Drop It Like It’s Hot Spots – Pyotraumatic Dermatitis in Dogs

Pyotraumatic Dermatitis

Hot Spots – What are they?

Pyotraumatic dermatitis has many names, including acute moist dermatitis and superficial canine pyoderma. When moisture – from humidity, bathing, swimming, etc. – becomes trapped under the hair coat, skin easily becomes macerated. The maceration leads quickly to inflammation and infection by normal skin surface (e.g.: Staphylococcus species) and oral bacteria. These changes account for the “pyo” component of the condition’s name. Understandably, skin inflammation and infection are quite bothersome for dogs, causing intense itchiness (called pruritus) and discomfort. Affected pets readily chew and scratch at the affected areas, further traumatizing the wounds ad account for the “traumatic” component of its name.

Dogs with hot spots frequently pay, lick, and/or chew at affected skin lesions

Dogs with hot spots frequently pay, lick, and/or chew at affected skin lesions

Moisture from the environment trapped under the skin isn’t the only stimulus for dogs to develop hot spots. Anything that causes skin irritation that subsequently causes dogs to lick and/or chew excessively at specific area can result in pyotraumatic dermatitis. Saliva from the licking and chewing is more than enough to macerate the skin, putting into motion the process of hot spot development. Skin allergies, matted fur, insect bites, stress-induced chewing/licking, other primary skin conditions, irritation from grooming clippers, pain in an area underlying the skin, and/or contact with an irritating substance have all been implicated in the formation of pyotraumatic dermatitis.

Hot Spots – What do they look like?

The classic appearance of pyotraumatic dermatitis is red, oozing, superficial skin lesion. They’re itchy, foul smelling, and may have dried crusts/scabs. The skin sores lack hair, adjacent fur is typically adhered to them. Pyotraumatic dermatitis is quite painful, and affected dogs will likely resent examination of the skin lesions.

Pyotraumatic Dermatitis

Hot Spots – How are they diagnosed?

Diagnosing pyotraumatic dermatitis is relatively straightforward. Identifying the characteristic skin lesions doesn’t require any sophisticated testing, only a thorough patient history and complete physical examination. It’s imperative pet parents mention when clinical signs began, as well as any circumstances that led to skin irritation.

Hot Spots – How are they treated?

Although the skin lesions are painful and often look quite nasty, they are superficial ones that typically respond well to prescribed therapies. Effective treatment involves:

  • Shaving – The area of and surrounding skin lesions must be cleared of hair. Doing so reveals the true size of the lesion and allows drying oxygen to contact the wound and promote healing. Pet parents should know hot spots are like icebergs. What is visible to the naked eye is often only the tip of the iceberg. The actual affected area is much larger, only becoming apparent once appropriately shaved. A quarter sized area can easily become a grapefruit sized one, shocking many owners.
  • Cleaning – Clearing the wound of debris, hair, infected discharge, and crusts is essential to promote healing
  • Drying – Keeping hot spots dry is of paramount importance. The skin lesions will not heal appropriately if the skin remains moist
  • Antibiotic therapy – Topical and/or systemic antibiotic therapy is often needed to treat the superficial skin infection
  • Pain & anti-inflammatory medication – Hot spots are painful partly due to intense inflammation. The of pain medication and/or anti-inflammatory medications can hasten healing and improve patient comfort

The take-away message about hot spots in dogs…

Pyotraumatic dermatitis, commonly known as hot spots, is a common skin condition in dogs. Moisture from a variety of sources becomes trapped under the hair coat and subsequently macerates skin. This causes itchiness and infection, causing patients to further chew and lick to cause more trauma to the skin. With prompt identification and treatment, patients can recover uneventfully within a matter of days.

Source: CriticalCareDVM