What is a hot spot?

Hot spots in dogs are known by the medical name of acute moist dermatitis.  They are identified by the practical symptoms of red, moist, hot irritated skin that are usually found on the dogs head, hips, or chest.  Hot spots can grow at a rapid rate because a dog will tend to obsessively scratch or chew on the affected areas, making the hot spot worse, and they can be rather painful for dogs.  So how do we deal with them?  What do we do?  Well read on, and we will explore how to help our canine friends with their itchy scratchy problems.

Dog Hotspot HealingHot spots happen when something irritates the skin, such as an allergy, insect, mice, or flea bite.  It can also be caused by poor grooming standards, or infections that happen for other reasons, and even just licking and chewing from stress or boredom.  Basically, the hot spot is a rash or skin irritation, but the dog will make it much worse by playing with it (Kind of like young children with their itchy spots), until it actually starts hurting them.  Dogs that have matted, dirty coats or are not groomed well are at most risk for developing hot spots, although any dog can develop a hot spot if they come into contact with an allergen or get bitten.  Hot spots are also commonly seen in animals with hip dysplasia, or hip problems, as they will start licking the skin on their hips trying to heal it.  The most commonly affected breeds are the thick, long-haired breeds, especially the larger ones.   If you notice any rashes or lesions on your pets skin, especially if they begin to obsessively scratch, lick, or bite the areas, you should definitely go see the vet.  The vet will be able to determine the cause of the hot spot, and administer treatment.  The good news is, hot spots can be kept in check and dealt with pretty easily!

Depending on the cause of the hot spot, your vet can tell you to do many different things, as it is the underlying cause that needs to be taken care of.  There are many different causes for hot spots, the hot spot itself is really just a symptom of the underlying cause.  Sometimes, if it is just a surface irritation all they really need is to have the hair around the lesion to be shaved, which will allow air and sunlight to heal it.  Most times, your vet will prescribe an antibiotic healing lotion, which will sooth and heal the skin (just like we do for rashes and irritations).  If the cause is something more serious, like an infection, they can be put on antibiotics and pain killers, or corticosteroids or antihistamines to help control and heal the itching.  If it is being caused by a compulsory behavior, they may suggest an e-collar to help control the behavior.  Or if it is being caused by a food allergy, they may advise diet changes.  The best way to help prevent hot spots is simply to keep your dog clean and well groomed, and a healthy diet will help as well!