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Hot Spots on Dogs
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16 November 2022

Hot Spots on Dogs

Hot Spots are among the most common skin conditions affecting Australian dogs, particularly in the summer months. Hot Spots can cause your dog a lot of pain and discomfort. 

What are hot spots?

Hot spots are acute moist dermatitis. They’re localised areas of inflammation and bacterial infection that are most commonly caused or worsened by a dog licking or chewing at an area of agitation, such as a small cut or insect bite. 

Hot spots may start as small red spots but when left untreated, or if your animal is continuing to lick at the area, they can quickly become painful lesions as infections worsen.

What causes hot spots on dogs?

Hot spots are commonly self-inflicted through constant licking, chewing, and scratching at areas of inflammation. The original cause of agitations are often things like: 

  • Environmental or food allergies

  • Parasites such as ticks or fleas

  • Skin infections or dermatitis

  • Trapped moisture or debris such as sand, or soap after bathing

A dog may also excessively lick when they’re bored, anxious, or depressed - which can also lead to hot spots. 

Many of these causes are recurring, which means that hot spots are likely to persist until the underlying cause is diagnosed and treated.

Symptoms of hot spots on dogs

The most common symptoms of hot spots for dogs include:

  • Redness and swelling

  • Hair loss

  • Constant agitation, itching, and licking at affected areas

In severe cases, hot spots can contain pus and occasionally seep. 

Symptoms of hot spots are shared with many skin conditions, which is why it’s important to book an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the cause of the symptoms and find the right treatment for your pet.

How to treat hot spots

To effectively treat hot spots, the underlying cause must be found and treated first. 

A consultation with your vet is a must and will help to determine the physical condition of your pet, its diet, surroundings, and frequency of bathing and exercise. From this, a veterinarian will begin to determine whether the cause of hot spots has been caused by things like allergies or illness.

The next step for treatment includes preventing your pet from aggravating its infection or wound. The most common recommendations include:

  • Elizabethan collars

  • Frequent cleaning with veterinarian-approved medical wipes/solutions 

  • Medications to prevent itchiness and/or treat infection

  • Distractions such as long-lasting treats or puzzle toys

With diagnosis and correct direction, hot spots can often be resolved within one to two weeks.

How to help prevent hot spots

Because hot spots are caused by a dog’s agitation, preventing them from reaching the areas or distracting them is usually the simplest prevention. Some tips to help prevent hot spots include:

  • Increasing the frequency of walking or play to provide mental and physical stimulation and encourage rest at home

  • Providing mental stimulation at home with toys and occasional changes in the environment

  • Swapping to a sensitive, scent-free shampoo and ensuring pets are thoroughly rinsed before drying

  • Frequent brushing and grooming to remove debris like dirt, sand, and mud

If the cause of agitation is allergies, a change of diet or environment may be recommended.

If your pet has hot spots

With the summer months quickly approaching, the risk of Hot Spots on dogs is increased. Hot and humid weather can increase the risk of hot spots, and environmental allergies are more common too. 

If you’re concerned about your pet’s risk of developing a Hot Spot, contact us. Highfields Veterinary Surgery is open Monday through Friday 7am to 6pm and Saturdays from 8:30am to 1pm.


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