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Hot Spots on Dogs

hot spots dogs


Summer is one of the best times of the year for most dogs. Catching Frisbees, running free with other dogs in the park and lazing on the porch; these are all favorite pastimes for our canine friends when summer comes around. But for some dogs, summer can spell a painful time thanks to a condition that is frustrating for both pet and owner alike.

Hot spots in dogs is a common condition that strikes during the warmer months of the year and which can cause painful, oozing sores that can appear out of nowhere and spread very quickly. The good news is that these hot spots can be treated and prevented with the right diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from hot spots, book an appointment with your vet. In the meantime, while you are waiting to see your vet, you can find out more about the condition here.

What Are Hot Spots on Dogs?

Hot spots in dogs, also known as acute moist dermatitis, are localized regions of bacterial infection and skin inflammation. Hot spots may start out as small inflamed areas and it can be quite common for owners to mistake these areas for insect bites. However, where insect bites usually disappear over a matter of hours or days, a hot spot will become increasingly worse and spread over the skin. Eventually, the hot spot will develop into a red, hot painful lesion.

What Causes Hot Spots?

When a bacterial infection causes hot spots, your dog will tend to scratch, lick or chew the affected area. This self-trauma can cause serious inflammation of the skin and, in the worst case, lead to a secondary bacterial infection. Unfortunately, this self-trauma can lead to more itchiness and cause your dog a great deal of discomfort.

Common reasons for bacterial infections and hot spots in dogs to occur include:

  • Parasites
  • Food allergies
  • Flea allergies
  • Ear and skin infections
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Contact irritants
  • Anal sac disease
  • Boredom and stress which results in excessive licking
  • A dirty or matted coat
  • Moisture that gets trapped in the coat after bathing or swimming

Hot spots are a skin condition that can affect certain breeds of dogs, including St. Bernards, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Labradors. As previously mentioned, hot spots are more likely to appear in warm weather or when the humidity levels increase. Also, dogs that love to swim frequently or are exposed to inclement weather could be more prone to developing hot spots. Bacterial infections love moisture and can build up in the coat of a dog that is exposed to water and moisture frequently.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Hot Spots in Dogs

If you think that your dog may be suffering from hot spots, it’s time to get in touch with your vet. While it may be tempting to try to treat hot spots yourself or wait for the problem to resolve itself, a delay in diagnosis and treatment could make the problem worse.

Your vet will carry out a full examination of your dog’s skin, ask you some questions about your dog’s medical history and then get to work on finding the most suitable treatment. Your vet may also carry out additional testing, such as a skin scrape if parasites are suspected. Once the underlying cause of your dog’s hot spots has been found, your vet will prescribe treatment.

There are a number of treatment methods, including:

  • Cleaning the affected area with a gentle solution such as chlorhexidine antiseptic wipes or lotion
  • Clipping your dog’s hair to prevent matting around affected areas
  • Prescribing oral or topical antibiotics that treat primary and secondary infections
  • Applying a collar to prevent your dog from excessive licking, scratching or biting that can make the problem worse.

One of more of these methods may be prescribed for your dog. your vet will also ask you to pop in for follow-up appointments. The good news is that you should start to see a marked improvement in hot spots within 3-7 days after treatment has started.

Protection For You and Your Pet

No matter what type of treatment your dog requires, veterinary bills can be expensive. However, with a pet insurance plan from, you can protect yourself against unexpected or escalating costs and ensure your dog gets the best treatment possible.

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