This summer has been a scorcher. For many families and their dogs, that means being outside and swimming in the pool to cool off – or in many parts of the country, that means high humidity. With that increase in moisture on their fur or in the air, this could potentially lead to hot spots on your dog. So what are hot spots on dogs, and how do you treat them?
Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, are a common skin ailment in dogs, especially in the summer months. They are painful sores that sometimes ooze with pus. Typically, they start out as a small, red area, often looked over by owners because they have a similar appearance to bug bites¹. Hot spots on dogs occur when the dog is excessively licking, scratching, or chewing the affected area. The itching can be caused by environmental allergies, food allergies, stress or boredom, and moisture trapped in the coat from swimming, bathing, or high humidity¹. Read more about why your dog might be scratching in our blog, Frequently Asked Questions: Why is My Dog Scratching So Much?
If your dog breed has a thicker coat, then keep a watchful eye on your dog as your dog may be predisposed to getting hot spots. Keep an eye out for hair loss and redness, typically around the head, limbs, and hips¹.
The goal when treating a hot spot on your dog is to stop the root source of the scratching and itching, then treat the skin before it
becomes too infected². Consult your vet, as they will be able to determine the reason for the scratching, itching, and/or chewing.
Once that is treated, then to help your dog heal properly, it is recommended to use an e-collar or soft collar so your dog doesn’t keep scratching that hot spot and make it worse². Another solution is to cover it with a bandage to keep it clean and free from bacteria.
Another way to properly treat the hot spot if your dog has a thick coat is to get the affected area properly trimmed². It is not recommended to do this yourself, but to seek the help of a professional groomer. That way, you can use a topical treatment on the area and see how far the hot spots goes on your dog. Furthermore, matted fur can contribute to the irritation.
Lastly, try a topical solution, antimicrobial wipe with chlorhexidine, or spray to reduce the itching and give your dog some relief². Any of the following products help soothe the irritated area of a hot spot for dogs.
- Nootie Antimicrobial Medicated Pads
- Wondercide Skin Tonic Spray
- Vetericyn Hot Spot Hydrogel
- Project Sudz Relief Spray
- Zymox Hydrocortisone Cream
- Zymox Topical Spray
Treatment of the underlying cause of the itching that was determined by the vet will help if the first step in preventing hot spots. Also, consider seasonal grooming, especially in the summer months, as well as regular brushing so there isn’t too much matting or fur that weighs your dog down when they are wet². And if your dog does go swimming frequently in the summer, make sure to thoroughly dry them off!
Frequently Asked Questions: Why is My Dog Scratching So Much? , What Are Food Allergies and How Do I Stop Them? , Highlights from Dermatology & Our Pets: Vet Advice on Common Skin Conditions, Such as Allergies and Ear Infections, I Have an Itch that Needs Scratching
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¹ Racine, DVM, Elizabeth. “Treating and Preventing Hot Spots on Dogs.” American Kennel Club, 25 July 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/treating-and-preventing-hot-spots-on-dogs/. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.
² Williams, BSc, DVM, CCRP, Krista, et al. “Hot Spots in Dogs.” VCA Animal Hospitals, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/hot-spots-in-dogs#:~:text=Canine%20hot%20spots%2C%20also%20known,head%2C%20legs%2C%20and%20hips. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.