hot spots and dogs

hot spots and dogs
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Aug 31 2011

Maybe you’ve had to deal with hot spots on your dog before, or maybe you’ve seen someone else’s dog affected by a hot spot, or maybe you have no idea what a hot spot even is! If the latter is the case, consider yourself extremely lucky! If you’re part of the first group, you know what a pain in the neck (or rump!) these things can be.

What are hot spots?

Hot spots, also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis by your veterinarian, are infections that show up on your dog’s skin and seem to crop up overnight.

If your pet has a hot spot, you will know it. The affected area can be quite large, and usually, it’s a very moist, itchy spot that your dog won’t leave alone. Hot spots can occur all year round, but I do see an increased frequency of these troublesome skin ailments in warm weather months.

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Hot spots can be caused by anything that irritates your dog’s skin. Most of the time, the cause cannot be determined. An insect bite or sting, underlying allergies, matted hair and clipper burn can all cause a hot spot under the right conditions. An irritated area of skin turns into a hot spot when your dog starts scratching and chewing (if he can reach) the sore spot. All of that scratching and chewing causes trauma to the skin, and what results is an oozy (still itchy) mess.

Clip and clean

Very small hot spots may resolve on their own with TLC at home, but large spots will need to be treated by your veterinarian (which, if you have dog insurance from Petplan, can be covered). Keep in mind that small hot spots can turn into large hot spots within minutes.

The mainstay of treatment relies on keeping the area dry and keeping your dog from further traumatizing the area. Usually, the fur around the hot spot is clipped away, and the sore is cleaned thoroughly. Because these hot spots are so itchy and painful, sedation will likely need to be used.

The best medicine

Usually, topical treatments are all that is needed to treat hot spots, but severe spots may require oral antibiotics or steroids in addition to topical treatment. Unfortunately, your dog will likely also be sent home with the dreaded “e-collar” or “cone” to prevent further trauma. Don’t worry, though--hot spots don’t resolve as quickly as they show up, but they do resolve relatively quickly, so your pet won’t be wearing the cone of shame too long.

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