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What are Getting Hot Spots?

Hot spots are also known as moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis and affect an area of your dog’s skin that has become infected and inflamed. This is a bacterial infection of the skin that is many times located deep in your dog’s skin. This can cause the bacterial infection to become systemic, making your dog severely ill. Symptoms of hot spots are moist or oozing skin, red skin, hair loss and continual chewing or licking of a particular area of skin. 

Dogs will generally develop hot spots in warm or hot months; however, they can develop at any time. Anything can cause your dog’s skin to itch. Continual itching and/or chewing can contribute to the development of hot spots. Common causes of hot spots can include:

  • Food allergies
  • Environmental allergies
  • Fleas or mites
  • Insect bites
  • Wounds or pain
  • Emotional or mental distress
  • Poor grooming

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Why Getting Hot Spots Occurs in Dogs

Food Allergies

Dog owners now have numerous commercial dog foods to choose from, all claiming to have quality ingredients that are ideal for your dog. Take the time to research your dog’s food and know what ingredients are used. Sometimes, certain ingredients can cause allergic reactions. You may notice that after your dog eats a certain food item or ingredient, a hot spot occurs. You will want to have your dog tested for food allergies. 

Environmental Allergies

Just like with humans, dogs can develop environmental allergies. These can include grass, pollen, mold and ragweed. You will notice your dog developing a hot spot when certain allergens are high in the environment. Your veterinarian can perform allergy testing to determine what allergens your dog is having difficulty with.

Fleas or Mites

Another reason your dog may develop a hot spot is from fleas or other mites. If your dog is sensitive or allergic to fleas, just one flea can cause them excruciating agony and a hot spot will appear. Your veterinarian can recommend a topical flea repellant. 

Insect Bites

Certain insects can cause your dog to itch and chew at the site of the bite. Many insects will be active and bite your dog either early in the morning or after sunset. There are topical flea repellants that will also repel biting insects. 

Wounds or Pain

There may be times when your dog has a wound or a painful area on their body that causes them to chew or itch at that specific area. When your dog starts chewing or itching a certain area that they never bothered before, be sure to examine the area to look for any cause. If none is found, you will need to have your veterinarian examine your dog to determine the cause. 

Emotional or Mental Distress

Dogs that suffer from emotional or mental disorders or distress such as separation anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder may chew at a particular part of their body and create a hot spot. While the hot spot can be treated, unless the emotional or mental distress is addressed and modified, new hot spots will be created over and over again.

Poor Grooming

Dogs need to be groomed regularly, especially when they are going through a coat change and shedding excessively. Shedding can cause your dog to itch and chew at their coat. Matting of their coat can also cause them to chew at their coat and create a hot spot.

What to do if your Dog is Getting Hot Spots

When dealing with a hot spot, you definitely want to have your veterinarian assess the situation and devise a treatment plan for your dog. The main treatment will focus on clearing the bacterial infection that has occurred and finding out what has initially caused the hot spot. 

Your veterinarian will clip the hair in and around the affected area so they can fully examine, clean and treat the hot spot. Topical treatment to alleviate the oozing and itchiness will be prescribed. Topical treatments can include creams, sprays or ointments and will kill bacteria that are present in the wound as well as help with pain and/or inflammation. An oral antibiotic will be prescribed for about three to four weeks. A corticosteroid, usually prednisone, may be given to reduce itching and pain. In some cases, an antihistamine may help with itchiness.

Prevention of Getting Hot Spots

Proper diet and regular grooming are important for your dog. When you take time and thoroughly groom your dog often, you will be able to catch the beginning of a hot spot early and begin treatment before it becomes severe. Dogs that are allergic to fleas, mites or environmental factors should have a treatment plan in place with their veterinarian to alleviate those allergies. Monthly flea control, especially during active flea months, is important to keep your dog from itching.

Cost of Getting Hot Spots

Depending on your location and the severity of the hot spot, treatments can range from $200 to $500. Flea elimination and flea prevention, which may help to avoid hot spots can average in expense at $350.