I Hate Hot Spots!

I hate hot spots! When my dog gets a hot spot I take it as almost a personal attack: why is my dog so stupid that she keeps chewing on herself? What caused it? Is it something I did or didn’t do?

So what is a hot spot? A hot spot, which is technically referred to as “acute moist dermatitis” is a skin infection that is hot, moist and devoid of hair or fur. A hot spot might not be there one minute, be there within an hour or so, and be very large and infected within a day. Hot spots can be painful and many dogs will lick or bite the spot – sometimes to the point of self-mutilation (which of course can then make the hot spot even worse).

What causes a hot spot to develop? Sometimes a hot spot is caused by an allergy, a staph infection or a fungus. But the list of possible causes also include: an insect bite (even a mite or flea), a scratch, or even moisture trapped near the skin. Dogs with a longer or thicker undercoat are more likely to experience it, as moisture can become trapped in the fur. With the hot temperatures, bacteria and fungus have an easy breeding ground and an infection can quickly form. Sometimes, even a change in the microenvironment of the skin can cause a hot spot. This is particularly true after the dog has been swimming or playing in water. So sadly, in the summer, you often see an increase in the frequency of hot spots.

Once your dog has a hot spot then what? Depending on what caused it there are different options. If the hot spot was caused by a staph infection or there is some other bacteria present antibiotics are needed – which means a trip to the veterinarian. A staph infection will often produce oozing and be quite painful. A topical cream may be needed to help soothe the pain.

Most other hot spots, can usually be addressed without a visit to the vet. One of the first steps is to cut back any fur that is either getting stuck in the hot spot or right next to it. This will both let moisture out and allow the wound to heal without fur getting caught in the scab. If you think the hot spot was caused by some kind of allergen or other irritant you should also wash the area with a good medicated pet shampoo and dry the area thoroughly. In most cases you will also need to include some form of restrictive collar – either the traditional e-collar or one of the newer no-bite versions.

How are you treating or preventing hot spots on your dog?

Thanks for reading!