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A Guide To Hot Spots in Dogs

Aimee Labbate
  • Aimee Labbate

  • RCVS: 700039

 

What are hot spots?

Hot spots are also referred to as wet eczema and are sore patches on a dog’s skin that can develop very quickly, over just a few hours. The dog licks, chews and scratches at a certain area, making it wet and sore and causes a skin infection. Hot spots are easiest to treat if they are caught early, for the skin damage is too extensive.

What causes hot spots?

Certain breeds tend to be more prone to developing hot spots, including Labradors and Golden Retrievers. It is more common in the warmer summer months. Hot spots are usually triggered by an underlying issue such as a skin or flea allergy, or by problems with the anal glands such as impaction. This initial irritation causes the dog to be itchy leading to self-trauma. Once an infection has developed this causes intense itchiness, which further drives the process of licking, chewing and scratching - so it is a vicious cycle.

What are the symptoms?

The typical symptoms include:

  • Sore patch of skin (redness, discharge)
  • Fur around the area is wet
  • Dog licking, chewing and scratching

How are they diagnosed?

The vet will normally diagnose a hot spot based on the history and physical examination. They will want to try and identify any potential cause, such as fleas or an underlying skin allergy. It is a good idea to make sure your dog is up to date with their flea treatment – check out our flea and worming subscription pack so that the medication just arrives automatically!

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Treatment of hot spots

Importantly the dog must be prevented from causing further damage to the skin – this is usually best achieved by using a Buster or Elizabethan collar. If they are able to scratch at the area then the offending foot can be bandaged so that it is less able to cause damage. Where possible, it is best to leave the hot spot open to the air to allow it to dry out.

The vet will clip the hair from around the hot spot and will bathe and dry the area. Depending on the severity of the skin infection they may prescribe antibiotic ointment or oral tablets. Sometimes, medication is given to reduce the itchiness while the antibiotics are taking effect.

How can I help to prevent hot spots?

Here are a few suggestions that may help to reduce the chances of your dog developing a hot spot:

  • Ensuring your dog is always up to date with their flea treatment.
  • If your dog is prone to hot spots and has a thick coat, then consider clipping in the summer.
  • Place a Buster collar as soon as you notice that your dog is persistently chewing at a certain area, to hopefully prevent a hot spot from developing. Seek veterinary attention if you have any concerns.

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