Hot Spots Aren’t So Hot

If your pet has hot spots or moist dermatitis it can be so frustrating. They seem to appear out of nowhere, usually in the summer. A hot spot is a skin infection that starts when your pet is scratching, chewing, or licking themselves. Although cats get hot spots, they are far more frequently seen in dogs.

They start with a small itch, and then the skin becomes red, raw, and oozing, along with hair loss. Hot spots can be painful for your pet! Bacteria gets in the open sore, and your pet makes it worse by continued scratching.

So what causes hot spots? The most common cause is a flea allergy (yes, your dog can still get a bite or two even WITH flea preventative). That said, any irritant can get them started including atopic dermatitis, other parasites, allergies, contact irritants, skin infections, grooming irritation, or just constant licking out of boredom.

Certain dog breeds are more inclined to develop hot spots such as Labs, Goldens, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds. However, any dog can get them.

Treatment of hot spots often means seeing your vet. Often until you treat the underlying problem, your pet will continue to get them. If the spot is small, you can try home treatment. Clip the fur around the spot to allow air to reach it (use grooming clippers). Keep your pet from licking the area, which often means putting a cone on their head. Apply a warm water compress to the area 3 times a day for 5 minutes. Don’t bandage the spot – you want it to air out. Ask your vet if they recommend an over the counter antiseptic or cortisone powder or spray.

Hot spots can get larger fast, so if your home treatment doesn’t work in a day or so, it’s time to see your vet. Remember, hot spots may have bacteria in them, and you don’t want that to get out of hand.

If your pet is prone to hot spots, a few things may help prevent them. Keep your dog clean and well groomed all summer. Never slack off on flea and tick control. If your pet is bored and licking or biting because of it, you will need to keep them more engaged (we can help with walks and playtime).

Hot spots are not a serious medical condition, but they can spread and are very painful for your pet. Use these tips to prevent and treat them; we want your pets to have a fun, hot spot free summer!


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