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Hot Spots on Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Jul 18, 2022

By Elaine Waldorf Gewirtz

Count on warm summer days to bring out hot spots in dogs. These red, raw splotches of painful, infected skin pop up suddenly and spread quickly in a matter of days.

What Are Hot Spots?

Otherwise known as acute moist dermatitis, hot spots irritate dogs and upset owners who seek relief for their beloved canines. No one likes to see their four-legged pals in pain and discomfort.

But, with the proper prevention and management, these troublesome breakouts can be soothed and healed.

Many skin conditions share similar symptoms in dogs, but hot spots are one of the most common skin conditions. The well-defined raised areas can appear anywhere on the body, but mainly on the hips, limbs, face, and neck.

Depending on the location of the lesions, these angry-looking blotches can vary in size with a similar appearance and some amount of hair loss. At their worst, they become raw and inflamed and may even bleed.

Hot Spot Signs to Look For

When a dog scratches, licks, or chews at its body, it may signal a painful sore hiding under the coat on the skin. Constant gnashing at the hot spot increases the trauma to the skin and spreads the inflammation, which causes a secondary bacterial infection.

At first sight, hot spots may resemble an insect bite. The difference is that acute moist dermatitis increases in size and escalates to ulcerated skin or infection within days.

This condition’s wet and burning nature sets it apart from other canine skin issues such as ringworm or mange.

What Causes Hot Spots on Dogs?

Any condition that causes a dog to scratch, lick, and chew at the skin can produce a hot spot.

The cause of the itching and tearing can result from:

  • Allergies—seasonal, food, fleas
  • Anal gland inflammation
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Contact irritants
  • Ear or skin infections
  • Excessive licking caused by abandonment, boredom, or stress
  • Neglected coat care
  • Parasites
  • Wet skin trapped under the coat.

Dogs with thick or thin coats are susceptible to hot spots, particularly in hot, humid weather and after swimming or inclement weather if not dried thoroughly.

How to Treat Hot Spots on Dogs

When you notice a hot spot, visiting the veterinarian is a good idea. Waiting to see if the fiery skin subsides on its own can only worsen the problem.

To treat a dog for hot spots, the veterinarian will need to perform a thorough examination. The visit often includes testing for parasites and allergies. These procedures will pinpoint the underlying cause of the problem and help prevent more hot spots from forming. Following a diagnosis, the veterinarian will discuss several treatment options.

These may include:

    • Removing the hair around the infected sites to prevent excess moisture from spreading the infection.
    • Bathing with a medicated shampoo formulated for dogs.
    • Daily cleaning the hot spots with medicated solutions.
    • Using topical and oral medication to reduce itching, control inflammation, and treat secondary bacterial infections.
    • Add an e-collar or cone to stop the dog from scratching the hot spots.

If you cannot see the veterinarian immediately, try a few home remedies to soothe and ease the discomfort:

  • Use canine clippers rather than scissors to clip the hair away from the hot spot.
  • Cleanse the hot spot with an antibacterial shampoo or antiseptic wipe.
  • Apply a topical ointment formulated for pets
  • Apply an e-collar or cone to prevent the dog from licking the area.
  • If the condition doesn’t improve or worsen, schedule an appointment with the veterinarian as soon as possible.

The hot spots should disappear within several days with continued care and treatment. Follow up with regular grooming, flea prevention, and complete coat drying after bathing or swimming. Monitor ear infections and treat allergies at the onset.

To prevent future hot spots, avoid boredom and licking by engaging the dog in daily exercise, interactive toys, puzzles, and challenging games around the house.

By taking positive steps to discover and treat the reason for the hot spots, these health annoyances can disappear in no time.

Shop Skin & Paw Releaf today so you have it available whenever your dog experiences itchiness, skin irritation, or hot spots.

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