Canine hot spots



While many welcome the advent of hot weather, the combination of heat and humidity increases the incidence of skin issues in our pets.

Insect bites, allergies, cuts and scrapes can cause the skin to become irritated and itchy. Sometimes dampness is all that is needed, especially when high humidity levels keep the dog’s skin wet for too long. Licking and scratching at the spot damages the skin barrier and allows moisture to build up on the skin and in the fur. This moisture promotes bacterial growth that spreads out from the initial area. The end result is wet, sticky area of dermatitis called a hot spot.

Hot spot on the side of the face.

Hot spot on the side of the face.

Close up of a hot spot

Close up of a hot spot.

The spot shaved and cleaned. Notice how the spots spread away from the center.

The spot shaved and cleaned. Notice how the spots spread away from the centre.

Anything can start it off and once it is established, a hot spot spreads very quickly. The dog continues to scratch and lick, so the effect snowballs. Treatment involves getting the fur off, finding the margins, and cleaning off the bacterial layer. These spots are quite painful and some dogs need sedation as well as pain medication to let the area be worked on. Medical treatment depends on the cause and extent of the spot and can include topical ointments, pills or injections. Stopping the dog from reaching the area is essential, so ‘cone’ or ‘E’ collars are often necessary. Once the dog leaves them alone and the fur is clipped, they tend to heal well.

While any breed can get a hot spot, the majority of dogs at risk are the thick coated breeds like golden retrievers and labradors. Common areas for hot spots are the face, the rump, and the underside of the neck . To prevent hot spots, get itchy dogs examined and treated by your veterinarian. Dry your dog thoroughly and quickly after a bath or a swim. Try and clip the hair around a suspicious area and have a cone collar on hand for emergencies. If you suspect your pet has a hot spot, don’t delay and get in to see us as soon as possible.

Thank you to Hunter D. for showing off her hot spot.