A dog stands in a kiddie pool with an orange bone in her mouth.

What do allergies, fleas, ear infections, anxiety, and long coats have in common? They are predominantly responsible for causing, or exacerbating, hot spots on dogs. Characterized by inflamed lesions on the skin, hot spots can be incredibly painful to endure. What’s worse, dogs can’t stop themselves from licking, biting and scratching at their sores, which makes them even harder to cope with, and less likely to heal. 

A Deep Dive

Hot spots, or moist dermatitis, can crop up when moisture gets trapped in the coat. This can happen after swimming or bathing (especially in long or thick-coated breeds like Saint Bernards or Golden Retrievers), but it’s equally common for hot spots in dogs to result from excessive licking

An irritation on the skin caused by allergies, parasites, or even anxiety or boredom, can cause a dog to chew their skin, lick it constantly, or scratch the area repeatedly. Over time, the skin becomes inflamed from all the attention and can even get infected. 

It is this seemingly endless cycle of itching, scratching, and trapped moisture that causes hot spots in dogs. 

A Terrible Consequence

Identifying a hot spot is easy, especially if you notice your dog simply cannot stop licking at an area. Hot spots are usually found on the hips, limbs and head (but can occur anywhere on the body). Upon examination, you’ll likely see a red spot licked clean of surrounding fur that could be oozing fluid or bleeding. They look and feel very raw, and thanks to thriving bacteria, hot spots can spread. Because hot spots can be caused or made worse by various conditions,  immediate action is required. 

Treating Hot Spots in Dogs

Antibiotics can effectively treat infections, and anti-itch, anti-inflammatory, or allergy medications can ease symptoms. Some supplements may be prescribed to keep the skin healthy and happy. 

Since moisture is the enemy here, you’ll need to keep your dog clean and dry at all times. Healing is usually only possible when an Elizabethan collar is affixed, reducing your dog’s ability to reach those problem areas. Hair will start to grow back in a couple weeks.

If a dog’s cause of hot spots is an underlying health condition, we will work to treat that as well. Flare ups can be managed with proper care. 

Prevention Is the Key

Hot spots in dogs are generally easier to prevent than treat. Dog owners should always keep their pups on their parasite prevention medication to ward off fleas and flea allergy dermatitis. Also, routine grooming can keep your dog’s fur coat clean and clear of mats, tangles, and debris that bacteria enjoy. If your dog likes to swim, be sure to bathe them afterwards and thoroughly dry their coat. 

Dogs that get hot spots may just simply be more prone to them than other dogs. The management of connected health conditions is part of prevention. Stressed or anxious dogs can benefit from increased exercise, mental stimulation, and behavioral training opportunities. 

Healthy Skin, Happy Dog

Please call us at (630) 428-0500 with any questions or concerns about your dog’s skin, coat, behavior, or overall health.  Our staff is always here for you and your dog at Springbrook Animal Care Center.