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hot marks the spot

A hot spot is a rapidly progressing skin lesion that dogs actually inflict upon themselves. These occur when something irritates the skin, causing the dog to scratch, lick or chew one area until it is raw. The result is a weepy sore that seems to pop up out of nowhere. Generally, by the time you notice your dog licking or chewing at one place excessively, there is a sizeable sore that is painful, irritated and oozing.

Anything that can cause skin irritation can start a hot spot, including allergies, insect bites, foreign bodies like burrs, irritation from a groomer ’s clippers — even ear infections! Dogs with dense undercoats, like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and Collies, are more prone to them, but any dog can get them. Because the lesions are so sensitive, many pets with hot spots are sedated for treatment. The fur around the hot spot is clipped, and the wound is cleaned thoroughly. Because the spot will still be somewhat uncomfortable when your dog awakes, he will have to wear an Elizabethan collar (more commonly known as the “cone of shame”) to prevent further licking and irritation. 

The key to quickly resolving hot spots is keeping them dry. Topical drying agents can be applied to the sore area, and oral or topical steroids and antibiotics may be prescribed depending on the spot's severity. Unfortunately, there's no way to predict the onset of a hot spot, so there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. Your best defense is to pay close attention to your canine companion, and call your vet if you suspect he’s getting hot under the collar.

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