Defining Dog Hot Spots

Defining Dog Hot Spots

Hot spots can be distressing to dogs and owners alike. These red, inflamed, open and sometimes oozing localized wounds are some of the most common skin conditions in dogs. Also referred to as pyotraumatic dermatitis or acute moist dermatitis, dog hot spots begin as small wounds and can be found on any part of the body; however, they generally occur on the legs, hips or head. Continued scratching or licking of the inflamed area can cause the wound to worsen and go from a small area to a painful, pancake-sized lesion quickly.

What Do Hot Spots Look Like?

Identifying a hot spot in a dog is typically a straightforward process. Hot spots are red, swollen areas that may be hot to the touch. Because of excessive licking and scratching, open wounds can develop, which may ooze fluid or pus and lead to matting and crusting.

What Causes Hot Spots in Dogs?

A dog can develop a hot spot on its skin for many reasons. These may include:

  • Insect bite reactions
  • Bacteria or yeast skin infections
  • Allergies to food or environmental allergies
  • Ear infections
  • Poor grooming and matted fur
  • Anal gland inflammation
  • Boredom or stress
  • Parasites
  • Trapped moisture after contact with water

Although some of these causes are situational, others (such as food allergies) are chronic conditions that must be managed appropriately. This makes identifying the cause of the hot spot crucial in its care and management.

How Can I Treat My Dog's Hot Spots?

These wounds do not go away on their own; hot spot treatment for dogs should include a visit to your local veterinarian. Your vet will assess the wound with a physical examination and may perform diagnostic tests to determine the hot spot's underlying cause.

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If you can't make it to your veterinarian immediately, you can implement some at-home wound care treatments until your appointment date arrives. Carefully trimming or shaving the fur surrounding the affected region will prevent any further moisture build-up around the area. Clean the wound with warm water, then dry gently with a paper towel or a clean cloth. 

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams and topical sprays like Eye Envy® On the Spot Healing and Itch Relief Spray can relieve itching. Our spray features comfrey extracts, colloidal silver, calendula and jojoba oil to soothe irritation. Avoid bandages: Exposure to the open air will help dry the sore and speed healing. An Elizabethan collar (or a cone) will be helpful to prevent further itching or licking.

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Hot Spot Prevention

Because hot spots are easier to prevent than to treat, it's important to take hot spot prevention measures before they spiral into a full-blown problem. Dogs who have had hot spots in the past are more prone to them in the future, making hot spot prevention key. Keep up to date with your dog's flea and tick prevention care. After swimming or bathing with Eye Envy® Moisturizing Pet Shampoo, dry the fur as soon as possible - particularly if your dog has a double coat or a long coat. Matted fur is often a hot spot culprit, so good grooming habits are a must. If boredom or stress is the cause of your dog's hot spot issues, make sure that it receives plenty of stimulation and exercise. Finally, fish oil supplements is a also good idea - they help develop a healthy skin barrier and have anti-inflammatory properties. Talk to your veterinarian about the right fish oil doses for your dog's weight.