Demystifying “Hot Spots”

A “Hot Spot” is a medical condition known as acute moist dermatitis; meaning it is a skin infection that comes on suddenly.  The following information will explain why they occur, how to recognize them, and how to treat.

Cause: You go to bed, you may even wake up to the sound of your dog licking, but think nothing of it, until you wake up the next morning and find that your dog has pulled out a patch of fur and the skin underneath is raw and oozing. Why did they start licking? It may be as simple as a bug bite (flea, tick, black flies, mosquitoes, etc.) or ‘heat rash,’ but could also be due to an underlying skin allergy. Sometimes dogs with ear infections can get these on the sides of the face and neck from scratching excessively.

Effect: As you can see in the above photo, a Hot Spot is usually a large patch of hairless skin that is raw, swollen and maybe even bleeding. These areas are very painful and are typically infected by the time they are noticed.

Treatment: These areas have to be clipped and cleaned thoroughly. Some dogs will be so painful that they require mild sedation to allow us to do this. Your dog will likely be sent home with a topical cleanser, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to prevent/treat secondary infections and reduce the pain/swelling/itching. We must also try to determine and treat the underlying cause: flea/tick preventatives, anti-histamines, ear medications, etc. Your dog will also be required to wear the “Cone of Shame” until the sore is completely resolved so he/she can’t lick at it anymore.

Outcome: Usually these clear up quickly, but will tend to recur if your dog’s underlying condition has not been corrected. Your vet may recommend testing for allergies or hypothyroidism if this becomes a chronic condition.

We invite you to schedule an appointment with us to discuss any skin/dermatology pet health concerns you may have. Call us today at 506-382-0061.

Written by: Mountain Road Animal Hospital