Hot Spots in Dogs

Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis or moist pyoderma, are a common skin problemDogs and Hot Spots seen in dogs. Hot spots in dogs appear when a dog chews, licks or scratches at an area of skin. The hair is quickly removed and a red, moist, often painful area of skin appears. Hot spots can appear within a couple of hours if the dog is allowed to chew or scratch at itself and can enlarge to several inches in diameter.

Hot spots can occur anywhere on the body, but are most common on the face or under the ear, behind the front legs and on the rear legs and tail. They can be a result of many things but the most common cause is allergies, including flea allergy and environmental allergies. Other causes include ear infections, irritants including shampoos and chemicals, and areas where the hair has been allowed to form mats.

Treatment for Hot Spots in Dogs

Some hot spots can be treated by pet owners at home, depending on the severity and the dog’s level of pain. Bathing the skin and surrounding hair with a mild shampoo and cool water can help remove skin bacteria and soothe hot spots. The hair surrounding the area should be clipped away with scissors or clippers until an area of healthy skin can be seen surrounding the hot spot.  A topical antibiotic ointment can be applied in a thin layer three times a day. Topical over-the-counter steroid creams can be used as well but should be applied in a very thin layer as these creams tend to crust when they dry. Your dog should wear an Elizabethan collar if he is chewing at a hotspot. If the area is on the body a t-shirt can be used to prevent continued scratching.

If you cannot touch the hot spot without your dog becoming agitated, or if the hot spot continues to bother your dog despite your initial treatment, you should see your vet.  Your veterinarian may sedate or anesthetize your dog to treat the hot spot. Treatment includes antibiotics and often steroids which are continued at home for one to two weeks.

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Dr Jill Christofferson

Jill Christofferson, DVM is an experienced veterinary general practitioner. Her professional interests include ophthalmology, dentistry, and reproduction.

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