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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Hot spots on dogs: Causes, treatment and prevention

Among the many potential canine skin issues, hot spots are among the most common. This skin problem can have varying root causes and treatment strategies depending on their severity.

What are hot spots?

“Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, are localized areas of skin inflammation and bacterial infection,” said veterinarian Elizabeth Racine in “Hot Spot Treatments and Prevention on Dogs” in the American Kennel Club website.

“Often a hot spot on a dog will begin as a small red area on the skin that owners may mistake for an insect bite. Unlike an insect bite, a hot spot on your dog will rapidly worsen and spread, developing into a hot, red, oozing, and painful lesion,” Racine added.

A skin problem on a dog. Please bring your dog to the vet immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment. (Photo from Adobe/tienuskin)

Hot spots can manifest on a dog’s body in various locations, with common sites being the face, neck, limbs, or hips. While the size and appearance of these lesions may slightly differ, they typically share a similar appearance regardless of where they occur.

While some hot spots on dogs are relatively minor and heal swiftly, they do have the potential to lead to a more severe problem, including widespread infection.

What Causes Hot Spots on Dogs?

Some dog breeds have a higher likelihood of developing skin issues, including hot spots. Frequently affected breeds include Golden Retrievers, English Bulldogs, and German Shepherds.

Racine said a few common causes of the itching/scratching cycle in dogs include:

  • Parasites in dogs
  • Flea allergy dermatitis
  • Dog food allergies
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Ear or skin infections
  • Contact irritants
  • Stress or boredom resulting in excessive licking
  • Coat that is dirty or matted
  • Moisture trapped in the coat from swimming or bathing

How to Treat a Hot Spot on a Dog

Although some cases of hot spots in dogs can be managed at home, it is crucial to identify the root cause in order to prevent further occurrences.

Cassie, a rescued beagle, had to wear an e-collar to keep her from scratching parts of her body to prevent infection. This will also stop her from licking the part where a medicated ointment was put. (Photo from file of Save Animals of Love and Light-Save ALL)

“If you suspect your dog may have a hot spot, the first step is to consult your veterinarian. While it may be tempting to wait for your dog’s hot spot to resolve on its own, delaying treatment will only make the problem worse.” Racine noted.

It becomes even more urgent if the affected area is:

  • Expanding in size
  • Continuously bleeding
  • Exhibiting colored discharge

If you are unable to prevent your pet from licking or scratching the hot spot, it is advisable to seek veterinary attention promptly.

What Will the Vet Do to Treat Hot Spots?

The treatment for a hot spot varies depending on its seriousness, but typically, veterinarians would recommend oral antibiotics, anti-itch medication, and the use of a protective collar. In some cases, the affected area might be shaved and cleansed with antiseptic solutions.

About the Author: Niko Gabriel Salgado is a graduate of consular and diplomatic affairs from De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, and worked at the House of Representatives. He is now an entrepreneur and a volunteer of the animal welfare group Save Animals of Love and Light- Save ALL.

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