Is your pet scratching and licking the same area so much that wounds are starting to form? He may have developed a “hot spot,” and the scratching may be making it worse. Hot spots on dogs are circular lesions of inflammation and irritation that can be painful for your pup. Knowing how to identify hot spot developments, potential causes and treatment options can help you make your fur baby more comfortable.
What Are Hot Spots On Dogs?
Hot spots on dogs, also known as moist dermatitis, are small patches of inflamed skin, formed from constant licking, chewing and scratching. Usually located on the head, hips and chest, some spots can double in size in a matter of hours. Over time, the skin becomes damaged and can break open, becoming the perfect breeding place for bacteria. If your pet develops a bacterial infection, he may feel itchier than before, and the hot spot will continue to grow. Without treatment, hot spots can become extremely large and cause more pain for your furry friend.
What Causes Hot Spots on Dogs?
While these lesions are caused by your dog’s licking and scratching, there’s usually an underlying disease or irritant at the source of the itching. If the condition is not treated, then hot spots in dogs will likely recur. Your veterinarian will test for possible underlying causes:
- Dermatitis (food allergy, flea allergy, etc.)
- Ear or Skin Infections
- Insect Bites
- Matted or Dirty Fur
- Scabies or Mites
- Post-Grooming Irritation
- Chronic Stress and Boredom
- Environmental Allergies
If your pet does not have enough mental or physical engagement, his boredom may lead him to lick or bite certain areas, causing a hot spot to form. Stress and anxiety also lead your dog to excessively lick or bite himself, increasing the chance for hot spots.
Hot, moist conditions increase the risk for dermatitis, so the summer months call for extra precaution. High humidity levels keep your pet’s skin damp and create an ideal environment for bacteria. Fun vacation activities like swimming may leave your pup open for infection and can make him itchier than before.
While any pup can develop hot spots, certain breeds are more susceptible than others. Long-haired and thick-coated breeds like huskies and German shepherds can be at higher risk for moist dermatitis – especially during the summer.
Symptoms of Hot Spots
Once your pup develops a hot spot, you should begin to treat it. Other than itching, there may be several visible symptoms:
- Hair Loss
- Crusting, Scabbing
- Bad Odor
- Pain and Swelling
If you notice multiple spots on your dog or his lesions don’t start to clear up, be sure to visit your veterinarian for further treatment.
Treating Hot Spots on Dogs
After testing for possible causes, your vet will treat the hot spots. This process involves shaving the surrounded fur and cleaning out the wound with water and a gentle cleanser. You will want to pat each wound with a clean, damp cloth a few times a day. Your vet may prescribe ointments, shampoo or other medications to stop the itching and help heal the lesions.
Preventing Hot Spots
Keep your dog protected before he develops lesions by strengthening his immune system. A stronger immune system allows him to better fight off infections and environmental irritants and allergens.
Regular grooming helps you catch any developing hot spots early and may even decrease the chances of them forming. Dirty, matted fur is an excellent environment for hot spots in dogs as it causes itchy skin and irritation. During the summer months, keeping your pet’s hair short lets him to dry easier and quicker, lowering the chance of hot spots.