Getting Hot Under the Collar

Freddy & Hoss show off their Union Jack Collars

Freddy & Hoss show off their Union Jack Collars

A client was picking up her dog the other evening and asked me why there were a whole bunch of collars on the fence.
I told her they were nylon collars drying as the dogs had been in the pool, and she looked surprised and told me that she just lets her collar dry on the dog.
Not a problem for some dogs, but as her dog has had hot spots in the past, I shared the following information with her and she suggested I put this out to the DD family, so here goes…….

A few years ago, love of my life (sorry Pete but there it is…..) and lead dog Freddie had a significant skin irritation and some hair loss at the throat. Because he is such a handsome beast and I hated anything to mar those dashing good looks, I took him to Dr. Betteker at Chateau Animal Hospital to see what needed to be done.
‘Throw away that nylon collar’ was his first advice.
He explained to me that nylon can be very chafing on the skin, and demonstrated by asking me to put Fred’s collar around my neck and move it back and forth mimicking the motion of the collar in everyday use.
I felt the tiny hairs on the back of my neck get caught up in the collar and get pulled out as I moved it back and forth. I went home and threw away the collar and hey presto, within a week, his hair had grown back and the irritation had cleared up completely. Thanks Dr. B!
I should have realized that dogs are no different to us in some ways; some humans cannot wear man made fibers as we get a rash or allergic reaction, especially in underwear.
Labs and retrievers tend to be more likely to get hotspots than others in our experience, and even moreso after they have been swimming or even just paddling in kiddie pools.
Last year, poor golden retriever Murphy Ward, who lives to swim, had a dreadful hotspot that started as a small area of irritation at the front of his neck in the folds of his skin and within a couple of hours was an oozing mass of bacterial infection that had taken all of his fur, was deeply irritating and left the poor dog feeling very under the weather. He didn’t want to eat, was too uncomfortable to sleep and he had zero energy for days.
It was the same for golden lab Beckham who had a nasty hot spot, which presented in the same way, in the same area.
Hot spots are fast growing and need to be jumped on ASAP, with a visit to the vets to get the area shaved for hygiene and, normally, a course of antibiotics.

Here at the Ranch if we see the beginnings of one, we ask the owners permission to pop a little diluted tea tree oil on the affected area (neat tea tree oil is too strong for the skin and can cause severe adverse reactions). Used topically only, as it is dangerous to ingest, Tea tree is a wonderful antiseptic and antifungal and has even been used to great success to treat MRSA.
Using tea tree oil is no substitute for good veterinary care however, it can help to delay the progression of symptoms while you wait for the vets office to open.
At home, for prevention of hot spots…….please, think about diet first. A dog whose diet is full of carbohydrates is going to have far more sugar in his system than the dog who doesn’t. Not only does sugar overtax the pancreas, but it creates imbalance in the body that allows for yeast overgrowth, and impairs the immune system so that the body cannot fight bacteria as well as a healthy body can. Don’t be afraid to use medicinal herbs in your dogs food, like sage and parsley; parsley is a natural diuretic that helps to flush out toxins from the body while making Fido’s food taste like it was made by Escoffier himself.

Think of using easily digestible white fish as a protein, low GI sweet potatoes or squash or pumpkin as an energy giving carb in small amounts, and use veggies like zucchini and green beans, kale, carrots and cauliflower or broccoli. Easy on the cruciferous veggies though as they can scour the system and give your dog some runny poop if they’re not accustomed to them.
If you take your dog swimming, remove his wet collar and let it dry before putting it back on.
Dry his entire body thoroughly, paying special attention to areas of folded skin like under the neck or areas that don’t get much airflow, for example under the ears or deep into the feathers on his legs.
Make use of an electric fan and try to blow the dog’s fur where possible to speed up drying time.
Hot spots form often in wet sticky places where bacteria can breed easily. Long hair lying over a sweaty body is a great breeding ground for bacteria so think about maybe shaving your dog in the summer.
I know your groomer may say that the hair protects the dog from the sun, but a longhaired dog really suffers in this Georgia heat unless he wants to spend the entire summer indoors. Think about the poor husky, who is designed for living in far cooler climes, having to wear that thick fur coat around in these 100-degree temperatures. Not really fair is it?
Both my long haired dogs get a shave during the summer months, and yes, like most dogs they look embarrassed for a few days, but that feeling of freedom and levity without the huge weight of hair is so astonishing to witness, that I wouldn’t NOT have them shaved.
Back to the collars though…….those of you who notice such things will see that all of the DD staff wear British flag (Union Jack) Martingale collars. These collars all have one thing in common and this is the reason I buy them…they are velvet or silk lined. We love Martingale collars also, as they tend to sit loose on the neck which presents far less cervical stress to the dog, but is safer as it tightens when the dog is leashed and tries to pull/ back out of it. That looseness in general wear allows for more airflow around the fur and is more comfortable in the hot weather.
The Freedom No pull harnesses that I buy are from the same company (we LOVE this harness for even the most die hard puller) and the areas around the legs that could possibly chafe the skin are also velvet lined.
I am not suggesting for one minute that you toss your nylon collar, however, if you have a dog that is susceptible to hot spots, or you have a dog with sensitive skin, purchasing a leather collar or a collar that has a smooth chafe free lining can be a great way to help keep those skin irritations at bay. It definitely works for my dogs. If I forget to take Hoss’ collar off when he gets out of the pool I don’t panic quite so much knowing he’s got no nylon next to his skin.
Knowing that I was going to be writing this, and that a host of people would be asking me where we get the collars etc. from, I took the liberty of contacting the manufacturers, Two Hounds Design, today and asked them if they would do a little ‘somethin’ somethin’ for any of the DD family that might want to order a collar or a harness.
They have very generously offered to give ten per cent discount on any order…just use promo code ‘ddogs10’ either on line or when you order by phone.
My grandmother used to say ‘Beauty is as beauty does’ meaning what’s the point of something that looks good if its useless?
I have to tell you, these collars and harnesses are gorgeous, but they are also very very well made and effective. The freedom no pull harness is the item that you will see on every single reactive dog or aggression case here at the ranch; we don’t trust anything else to stop a ferocious dog from pulling while being extremely gentle on the dogs’ body. And no, they don’t send me on a vacation to Hawaii if I recommend their collars, I just like sharing information on great products that keeps our dogs safe and healthy.
Check out the website at (and remember to quote promo code ‘ddogs10’)
Keep an eye on this page next week as I’m going to share our secrets for remaining flea free. So many of you have asked us what we use, so I thought it was time I came clean….!
God Bless and stay cool out there.

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