Hot Spot Season: Be Prepared

Countless dogs are affected every year by hot spots. This irritating condition of the skin can be quite upsetting to dogs, and owners need to be aware of the signs and how to treat them.

Hot spots occur most commonly in the hot and humid months. Hot spots (the proper name for them is acute moist dermatitis) are moist, red, irritated and hot lesions on the dog’s skin, most commonly on the head, chest, or hips. They can grow very quickly as dogs have a tendency to chew, lick, and scratch at the irritation, making it worse. They can become very painful and even infected.

A hot spot can be started by anything which irritates the dog’s skin and makes him lick and scratch at it. Common causes include mosquito, mite or flea bites; allergic reactions; poor- or over-grooming; or underlying infections of the skin or ears. Even stress and boredom can cause a dog to chew and lick at himself.

Any dog can develop a hot spot, though it is more likely in those who are not regularly groomed by humans, especially if long haired or thick-coated; or those dogs who are exposed to rain or go swimming. Dogs that have anal sac disease or hip dysplasia are more likely to lick their hind quarters as well, and develop a hot spot.

If you suspect a hot spot, or notice anything out of the ordinary on your dog’s skin or in their behaviour, get them checked by the vet. The vet will determine the cause of the hot spots, and if possible address the underlying issue (for example, a flea allergy, or stress).

Treatments may include:

• Shaving the coat around the lesion
• Cleansing with a non-irritant solution
• Medication to prevent parasites
• Painkillers and antibiotics
• The “cone of shame”, or E-collar
• Balanced diet
• Antihistamines or corticosteroid treatment

Prevent Hot Spots at Home:

• Groom your dog regularly
• Keep hair clipped short in summer
• Maintain a stress-free environment
• Control fleas
• Avoid boredom, with play, walks, exercise, and interaction with family and other dogs

Diagnosing and treating hot spots as soon as possible after they develop is vitally important – if not addressed quickly, you will have a very uncomfortable, very unhappy dog with very sore and unsightly open sores. By taking preventative steps as outlined above, you should have a happy and healthy dog throughout the summer months – regardless of how hot and humid it gets.

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