Dog playing in grass

If your four-legged friend is relentlessly itching and licking themselves, they may be suffering from hot spots.

Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis, are one of the most frustrating skin conditions a dog can get. They’re itchy, painful, and they can even be severe if left untreated.

Worse still, hot spots can be triggered by a number of things, from a flea allergy or a simple insect bite, to emotional distress or even boredom.

Here, PetBucket, the online retailer of tick and flea treatment, advises on how to help (and help prevent) hot spots on dogs, so you can help keep your pooch healthy and happy.

But first, what exactly are hot spots on dogs?

Hot spots are essentially an immune response that causes parts of your dog’s skin to overproduce natural bacteria. They tend to appear suddenly as red, irritated, and sometimes oozy skin lesions – and they can crop up anywhere on your dog’s skin.

Hot spots are extremely uncomfortable for your poor pooch, and most affected dogs tend to lick and chew at the spot excessively. Unfortunately, this causes further inflammation, opening the wounds to bacteria, and worsening the lesion and your dog’s discomfort.

Infectious hot spots can occur within a few minutes to hours, and if they are left untreated they can spread extremely quickly.

It’s extremely important therefore to address the problem as soon as you notice one on your dog’s skin, or if you notice your pup constantly itching or scratching.

Dog with ticks

Why do dogs get hot spots?

Insects that bite, such as fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, are the main cause of hot spots in dogs.

A poor grooming routine also leaves dogs more susceptible and damp or matted fur can also trigger hot spots. Food allergies and seasonal allergies to everything from pollen or mold can also be the culprit.

What dogs are more at risk to hot spots?

While any pet can develop the painful condition, hot spots are most common in male adult dogs with thick coats. Collies, German Shepherds and Labradors are popular breeds that are very susceptible to this uncomfortable skin disorder.

How to treat hot spots

Whatever the cause of hot spots, luckily they are treatable. PetBucket recommends you take the following steps:

  1. Clean the infected area. It’s recommended you shave or gently remove the fur around the hot spot before disinfecting the skin with diluted povidone-iodine or another type of antiseptic. Clean the wound at least twice daily in the early stages of treatment. Your poor pet will likely be in a lot of pain, so pain relief is also helpful
  2. Be sure to prevent your cuddly companion from scratching the infected area by covering it, outfitting him with an e-collar, or offering your pet anti-inflammatory medications to relieve the itchiness
  3. Take your pet to the vet if their sores continue to grow or don’t get better after a few days of home treatment. Antibiotics may be needed – and in severe cases of hot spots – further treatment or additional diagnostic tests may be necessary

Once you’ve cleaned your pet’s hot spots, the next step is to determine what’s causing the problem. Whether it’s a flea allergy, an insect bite or emotional distress, you’ll need to treat the issue, and then take measures to prevent it in the future.

How to prevent hot spots

Hot spots are typically caused by insect bites or fleas, so it’s super important that you groom your pet with a flea comb regularly and ensure they take measures to prevent fleas and troublesome ticks.

It’s now really easy to keep fleas at bay with ‘Spot-On’ treatment which you can purchase online. Bravecto Topical is a popular tick and flea treatment for dogs which effectively treats tick infestations while controlling future infestations for up to 3 months!

A good grooming routine is also essential for preventing hot spots. Keep their fur dry and brushed, and avoid allergens in foods. If your pet suffers from seasonal allergies and gets worse during pollen season, make sure you take them to the vet and get the right medication in advance. Nutritional supplements for dogs may also help.

Hot spots can also be caused be emotion distress. Emotion distress can manifest itself from separation anxiety (perhaps you have been on holiday or work has kept you away from your pet for longer than they’re used to); changes in living situation, say moving house or area; and even boredom.

Take care therefore if you know your pet is in an emotionally vulnerable position, and take measures to ensure they are as relaxed and at ease as possible. Exercise is a great help in relieving stress and boredom, and massage is another way to calm an anxious dog and keep them as happy as can be.

Ultimately, while it’s impossible to completely prevent hot spots from ever occurring, with preventative treatment and a little planning, you can reduce your pup’s risk.

About the author

PetBucket is a trusted online retailer that provides quality tick and flea treatment for dogs and cats, including Advantage multi for dogs, Bravecto for dogs, and the Seresto flea collar.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay