A 501(c)3 Non Profit Organization

Description Hot Spots Why Adopt an Adult Dog? Tips Off to a Great Start Heartworm Dilated Cardiomyopathy


This page contains links to information and articles which you may find useful in caring for your Golden Retriever.

Hot Spots: Acute Moist Dermatitis

by Marty Smith, DVM
of Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
Joe Bodewes DVM
Drs. Foster and Smith, Inc.
Veterinary Services Department

Description and cause

Also known as acute moist dermatitis, hot spots are usually a disease of dogs with long hair or those with dense undercoats. It is often caused by a local allergic reaction to a specific antigen. Insect bites, especially from fleas, are often found to be the cause.

Other causes include atopy (inhalant allergies) and food allergies; mite infestations with Sarcoptes scabei or Cheyletiella; ear infections; poor grooming, burs or plant awns; hip dysplasia or other types of arthritis and degenerative joint disease; and anal gland disease.

Hot spots are circular lesions, usually found on the head, over the hip and along the side of the chest. They will be moist, raw, inflamed and hairless, and can be quite painful. Animals usually lick, bite or scratch the area, and thus irritate the inflamed skin even more. In fact, hot spots are sometimes called "pyotraumatic dermatitis" because the self-trauma is a major factor in the development of hot spots.

Hot Spots can change dramatically in size in a very brief period of time. What was the size of a quarter may easily be eight inches in diameter in six hours.


The lesions are rare in the colder temperatures of winter. They occur in equal frequency in both inside and outside dogs. Many dogs develop several of these lesions over the course of their lives. However, this is not a long-term disease. A lesion will suddenly appear, be treated and be gone in less than a week Another lesion will suddenly appear later the same summer, the next year or never be seen again on that dog.


Treatment must be directed at stopping the growth of the hot spot and eliminating the cause. In many dogs the initial cause is fleas, but lesions below the ear often indicate an ear infection, those near the hip may be the result of an anal gland infection, and so on. Whatever the cause, if it can be detected, it must be treated while the hot spot is being treated.

The first step in treating hot spots is clipping the hair over and surrounding the lesion. This allows air to get into the inflamed tissue and makes it easier to treat. The surface of the lesion is then cleaned with a non-irritating solution such as dilute Nolvasan solution. To help the lesion heal desiccating powders such as Burows solution (Domeboro powder and water) are often then applied. If the dog is very sensitive this may need to be done under sedation. In more severe cases the animal may be placed on oral antibiotics and given painkillers and anti-inflammatories such as buffered aspirin or steroids. (Do NOT give your cat aspirin unless prescribed by your veterinarian.)

We also need to prevent the dog from traumatizing the area even more. Elizabethan collars (those plastic "satellite dishes") may be used if the lesion is on the top of the head, for instance. Nails can be clipped and socks can be put on the hind feet to reduce trauma from possible scratching.


Many dogs that have repeated problems with hot spots can have the incidence greatly reduced by keeping their hair clipped short during summer, giving them frequent medicated baths and following a strict flea control program. Depending on the location of the hot spot, cleaning the ears regularly and expressing the anal glands as needed may also be beneficial.

© 2000 Drs. Foster and Smith, Inc.
Reprinted as a courtesy and with permission from
PetEducation.com http://www.peteducation.com/
Free pet supply catalog: 1-800-323-4208

Why Adopt an Adult Dog

[Reprinted with permission of Sandy Mowery (Front and Finish columnist)]

If you want a dog that is completely devoted and bonded to you, you need to raise it yourself, from puppyhood, right? Wrong. It takes about a year for a dog's heart to become beautifully wedded to your own, and this is true whether you start with a puppy or a mature adult. The only real difference is that the first year with the pup will be a trying time filled with messes, mistakes and destroyed property.

Sure, puppies are cute, especially for the first six weeks. The gangly growth period isn't so cute, and the "terrible teenager" time (9 mos. to 1-1/2 years) can be devastating. Many people abandon their pets before the second year, convinced that the youthful misbehavior will never end. Dogs tend to become homeless just when they are finally getting good.

Puppies seldom fail to find homes. Fully grown, abandoned puppies seldom succeed in finding homes. The irony of this, and the tragedy, is heartbreaking. Yet the grownup dog is the perfect answer for most people in today's busy world. Raising a puppy successfully requires full-time parenting, yet dog owners no longer have that time. Adult dogs require much less supervision.

But will a dog love you if it has formerly loved someone else? Many homeless adults are still searching for their "first love", having never known a good home. Those who have loved someone are now broken-hearted. Both types will be eager to adopt you, and will love you as only a homeless dog can. The pup you raise will surely take your love for granted, having never known want. The homeless dog has learned that life can be very hard. Can a dog really feel gratitude? You bet your life.

I speak from experience. Of the 24 dogs that have shared my life (all "till death do us part"), ten that presently fill my home were all rescued as adults. Most were strays, and I know nothing about them except that they suffered greatly wandering on highways without food, shelter, companionship or hope for the future. Some were emaciated and two were actually struck by cars. All are wonderful, loving companions. I take great pleasure in seeing them now, happy and healthy, asleep at my feet. And I can't bear to think what their fate would have been had I not taken them into my heart.

F. Y. I.


With Your Rescued Golden Retriever

In the interest of making your adoption experience a most positive one and in making your newest family member as comfortable as possible, we would like to make a few simple suggestions.

We are all dog owners. We are not trainers, but we have a good amount of interest in and experience with all things canine. We would like to share some of our "hands on" knowledge and recommendations with you.

  1. DO: Take your dog for obedience training. Give him/her a couple of weeks to settle in and then go to school! The experience of a good beginner obedience class will help you bond with your new friend and make it easier for him to figure out his place in your pack. It will give you basic knowledge of canine behavior (especially if you are a novice dog owner.) Dog school will also give you weekly access to a professional trainer, who will be happy to answer your "New Dog Mom/Dad" questions and offer advice if problems should arise.
  2. DO: Read! There are many great books in bookstores and in the library. Become an informed Pack Leader/Parent. Brian Kilcommons' books are among our favorites, as are "Mother Knows Best" by Carol Benjamin and "Golden Retrievers for Dummies."
  3. DO: Supervise children around your new pet. Young children are especially exuberant and unpredictable. This could frighten their new best friend, who may not yet be secure in his new home. Kids need to be taught how to approach their Golden buddy. Pet by scratching gently under the chin and along the sides of the neck. Always pet in the direction that the fur grows.
  4. DO NOT: stare directly into your dog's eyes — the dog sees this as a challenge.
  5. DO NOT: allow kids to hug your Golden until he has been in your home for a couple of weeks (an overhead approach could also be seen as a challenge.) Golden Retrievers are WONDERFUL family dogs and are generally incredibly tolerant of small kids' behaviors. However, we feel it is better to take a cautious approach in the beginning.
  6. DO: Exercise restraint and caution while your dog is eating. Steer clear of both your dog and his dish until he is finished eating. If you want to give him more food, wait until he is completely done and away from his eating area.
  7. DO: Give your dog safe treats & chewies (toys that cannot be ripped apart and ingested.) We recommend large size Nylabones (not Gumabones), thick sterilized beef bones from the pet store & Kong toys that can be stuffed with cheese or peanut butter for a special treat. PLEASE DO NOT give your new Golden any type of high value (in the canine world) treat such as rawhide or pig ears until you know him better. Some dogs are fine about giving these luxuries up, while others will growl, bare their teeth and possibly even snap if you get too near to their doggie equivalent of filet mignon.
  8. DO: CALL US AT LIGRR RIGHT AWAY if you have any concerns about your dog's behavior. We can make recommendations & if necessary, have a volunteer observe your dog's behavior at home. Very often, little problems can be alleviated before they become BIG problems. We want your golden adoption to be a success. We are here to help you and your pet.
  9. DO: Exercise a little restraint and "doggie common sense" in your new pet's first few weeks in his new home. It could mean the difference between a failed adoption and the happy placement both your dog and your family deserve. Take it slowly, quietly and calmly with your new buddy & he will repay you with his undying devotion, in the typical Golden manner.

PLEASE REMEMBER: Your LIGRR Golden has been tested for Heartworm & (unless we have notified you otherwise), he is Heartworm Negative. He needs to go on Monthly Heartworm Medication IMMEDIATELY. Please see your Veterinarian as soon as possible.


Heartworm is on the rise in New York State. According to my veterinarian, we are heading towards a "perfect storm" of circumstances which may lead up to a serious increase in Heartworm cases in our area. We are experiencing warmer winters, which mean more mosquitoes. The bat population is in a severe decline, which also results in a serious increase in the mosquito population. We are also seeing large numbers of dogs being brought up from the South and a number of these dogs are Heartworm positive. If a Heartworm positive dog is bitten by a mosquito, Heartworm can be spread to the next dog or dogs that mosquito bites.

PLEASE keep your Heartworm negative dog on Heartworm preventative year round. Have your dog tested for Heartworm on an annual basis. (There are rare cases of dogs developing Heartworm while they are on preventative.) Buy your Heartworm preventative directly from your veterinarian - not online. If your dog has a "breakthrough" and develops Heartworm while on preventative, some of the manufacturers will help you financially with the cost of treatment - but only if you have purchased the preventative from your veterinarian.

Heartworm treatment is expensive. It is tough on you & your dog. (Dog must be on crate-rest for 6 to 8 weeks following the treatment.)

In addition, the treatment is in short supply and it takes a long time for veterinarians to get it. Meanwhile your dog waits and the illness gets worse.

You can avoid this by administering one simple pill every month. Keep your dog safe & healthy - "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

LIGRR is concerned about all of our dogs wellbeing and health; therefore we are sharing a recent letter from Golden Retriever Club of America

Diet-Associated Heart Disease in Golden Retrievers September, 2018

GRCA shares our members and other dog owners concern and distress regarding the potential link between certain diets and the development of a serious heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). DCM is a disease of heart muscle that results in an enlarged heart that has difficulty pumping effectively, and that may lead to congestive heart failure and sudden cardiac death. In some cases, DCM may improve if caught early and treated appropriately.

For those not yet aware, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an alert on July 13, 2018 informing the public of their investigation into a possible connection between pet foods containing legumes such as peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as primary ingredients. High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as "grain-free," but may also appear as main ingredients in foods that are not grain-free. This alert was followed on August 10 by a Questions and Answers release from FDA.

The FDA's investigation began after its Center for Veterinary Medicine received numerous reports of DCM in dogs eating such diets. Many of these reports involved Golden Retrievers, a breed that appears to have been hit particularly hard by diet-linked DCM. Some of the most well-documented reports were from Board-certified veterinary cardiologists and nutritionists who had begun their own investigations about two years ago, and currently the FDA is evaluating more than 150 cases of this condition.

These researchers are continuing to follow several leads as to the precise diet-related contributions or other factors involved in the development of this disease. These include taurine deficiency (taurine is an amino acid previously documented as a cause of DCM) due to composition of the food, food processing methods, source of taurine's building blocks in the food, or to the dog's ability to utilize the nutrient.

Based upon previous and ongoing research, Golden Retrievers appear particularly susceptible to taurine deficiency, and taurine screening has demonstrated to be an important diagnostic tool for identifying Goldens with possible DCM. However, not all dogs — and particularly breeds other than Golden Retrievers — with diet-related DCM have been found to be taurine deficient, so this is clearly not the sole cause of this condition. Despite the identified link to taurine deficiency in Goldens, this issue remains complicated for owners, research scientists, and treating veterinarians. Other factors being investigated include fiber content of the food, uncommon or exotic ingredients, small manufacturers that may not have fully tested their food, and genetic ability to process the food.

While this research proceeds, owners are encouraged to be cautious regarding sources for information, as there is much speculation but relatively little scientific literature. GRCA is committed to help educate dog owners and has compiled links to trusted articles for more information and general recommendations. Specific recommendations about individual dogs should be discussed with the dog's veterinarian.