Hot Spots on Dogs


Treating Hot Spots

Hot Spot Dog

One of the most dramatic looking and annoying skin problems a dog can have are hot spots. Hot spots are an inflamed patch of hairless skin, oozing pus and foul odor, that usually appears within hours. It gets progressively worse as the dog continues to lick the area.

A hot spot, or acute moist dermatitis, is a skin inflammation triggered by an allergy to seasonal pollens, food allergies, fleas, insect bites or skin wounds. The dog will start itching, scratching and chewing at the site, leaving the broken skin a perfect environment for secondary bacterial infections. The pus gives the skin a wet appearance and a characteristic smell. The spot’s size can vary from a quarter to a whole cheek or thigh. It can occur as a single spot or in multiple locations. The condition is very painful.

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How to Treat Hot Spots on Dogs

Most of the time, veterinarians are unable to determine the specific cause of the itch without extensive allergy testing, but they do treat the inflammation with steroids and antihistamines.

A prescribed anti-inflammatory relieves the itch while an Elizabethan collar prevents the dog from licking the wound. A veterinary assistant can provide helpful tips on how to secure the collar properly and offer advice on how to get your dog through this shameful experience (he does look silly and clumsy with a big cone on his head). The hot spot will get better in a couple of weeks of being treated.

Your veterinarian will more than likely do the following to resolve the hot spot:

    • Treat the bacterial infection with antibiotics.
    • Clip the hair around the wound to prevent contamination and reduce irritation.
    • Use an antiseptic solution, such as chlorohexadine or betadine, to gently clean the wound.
    • Recommend a topical spray to relieve the itching and help with the healing.

No dog is safe from hot spots and prevention is difficult so flea control should be used year-round to prevent the itchy bites. Hot spots are more common in dogs with long and heavy coats so make sure to remove dead hair by brushing. You should also thoroughly dry your dog after washing. Regular grooming helps your dog have a healthy coat and skin, and enables you to detect any problems or changes early on.

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