Have you noticed a red, oozing sore on your dog’s skin? It is itchy, irritating and frankly, kind of gross. Chances are your dog has something called “hot spots” or also known as acute moist dermatitis. This is an extremely common skin condition in dogs that can be frustrating to deal with. This condition is triggered by overly scratching, licking or chewing an affected area that causes inflammation and bacterial infection. They are usually found on the face, neck or limbs and can range in size.
What Causes Hot Spots?
While some breeds are predispose to skin conditions, such as english bulldogs and german shepherds, there could be other conditions that cause this. They are also more likely to occur during warmer weather and high humidity. The conditions include:
- Allergies (Flea, food or seasonal)
- Ear Infections
- Excessive moisture
- Poor grooming
- Anal gland inflammation
- Stress or boredom
- Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
Treatments for Hot Spots
If you suspect that your dog may be having hot spots, it is best to first take a trip to the veterinarian. Waiting for the problem to resolve itself could just make things worse. Your vet needs to determine the underlying cause of the hot spots so you can be proactive in preventing in the future. Do NOT use human medications such as Neosporin, Hydrocortisone, and Vaseline! Some human topical treatments contain ingredients that are toxic to pets when licked or ingested.
- Start by trimming the surrounding hair. With clippers or scissors, trim around any matted or crusted hair. You can ask your veterinarian or professional groomers to help you with this step if your dog is frightened.
- Clean the affected area. Your veterinarian may prescribe a specific cleanser, but if they do not, search for products that are antimicrobial and made for treating hot spots.
Veterinarian recommended cleansing pads to treat and clean hot spots! They’re quick and easy to use and are 100% biodegradable.
- Soothe the hot spot by applying a cool wash cloth or compress on to the irritated area. Then pat dry.
- Apply a topical hot spot treatment to protect and soothe the irritant. Your veterinarian will prescribe something specific for this. If your dog is continuing to lick excessively, an e-collar or plastic cone will be necessary to keep them from continuing the irritation. If there is an underlying infection, your vet will also prescribe antibiotics and/or steroids to help heal that. It is important to make sure your dog finishes the medication even if it seems to be mostly healed!
The mousse version of the cotton pads above that can help maintain/treat hotspots.
Preventing Hot Spots
The best way to treat hot spots is to prevent them as much as you can! If you know that this is recurring problem, it is best to identify the underlying condition.
Ensure that you always have good parasite prevention, they have good hygiene/routine grooming, and their coats are thoroughly dry after any “wet” activities such as swimming. Using antimicrobial shampoo that is formulated for your dog’s coat type is also key for optimal pH balanced skin.
If your dog is stress or bored, try to increase daily exercise or using environmental enrichment such as puzzle toys. You can also get friends, neighbors, or hire dog walkers to take your dog out more often!
Food allergies are becoming more common so your doctor may prescribe a special diet or medication that can prevent itching.
Including supplements that include fatty acids, EPAs and DHAs can help manage any skin diseases. Fatty acids have both anti-inflammatory properties and can help maintain proper skin moisture.
- Do not place any bandages or wraps to cover the hot spot. This will continue to contain the moisture and we want the area to “breathe.”
- Use only pet-safe, veterinary approved products. It is always best to ask your veterinarian before starting anything new.
- Ensure that the hot spot area is always clean and dry. Follow instructions on the bottles carefully.