Dog Hot Spots – How To Prevent And Treat Them

Moist dermatiits, commonly known as hot spots, are a very common skin condition in dogs, particularly during the summer. These painful oozing sores often seem to pop up overnight and are very frustrating to both dogs and owners.

Hot spots are very localized and are often mistaken at first for an insect bite. But then the area will quickly get worse and spread out to develop a red painful oozing patch that will have your dog constantly licking or biting at it to try to get relief. These spots can be anywhere on your dog but are most commonly seen on the legs, head and hips.

Hot spots can be triggered by irritation or trauma to the skin, often self-inflicted by your dog who is trying to get relief by licking the area. The spot then then develops a bacterial infection which causes even more distress and more licking and biting, resulting in a vicsious circle. 

Many conditions can cause your dog’s skin to become itchy and irritated, putting her at risk for developing a hot spot. These conditions include food allergies, flea allergies, parasites, a dirty or matted coat, a coat that is constantly wet, boredom or stress which causes licking and contact irritants among others. 

While of course you will want to treat the hot spot, you’ll also need to look at the underlying cause and try to eliminate that as well to prevent reoccurence.

With correct treatment by your veterinarian, hot spots can resolve very rapidly, often in a matter of days. Your vet may clip the hair around the spot then will cleanse the area with an antiseptic solution. Oral and/or topical antibiotics may be prescribed as well, along with steroids to decrease the itching and inflammation. 

You will likely be instructed to use a medicated wipe on the area daily and your dog may need to wear an Elizabethan collar for a few days to give the area a chance to heal and to get the inflammation under control. 

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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