If you are a dog owner, there is a good chance you have already had to deal with a hot spot on your dog. Hot spots, also called acute moist dermatitis, summer sores or pyotraumatic dermatitis, are a red, swollen, oozy skin lesion that is caused by excessive scratching. Typically, a dog will start scratching, chewing or licking a spot, this will damage the skin and the dog will continue to scratch, chew or lick the skin. This irritates it further and the lesion begins to leak fluid or pus which causes hair to become matted. This traps heat and moisture against the skin, further exacerbating the wound and trapping the dog in the itch-scratch cycle.
A hot spot may start out as a small, red bump that can be mistaken for an insect bite but it will spread quickly as bacteria entering the wound makes it even itchier. If left untreated, the bacterial infection will spread deeper into the skin and the lesion can become thick and take on a plaque-like appearance. Hot spots can appear anywhere on a dog but typically affect the head, neck, legs, hips and rump.
Hot spots typically develop due to an underlying cause such as:
Certain breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and St. Bernards are more prone to developing hot spots due to their thicker coats. Warm and humid weather also contributes to the development of hot spots.
A vet will diagnose a hot spot on your dog by its distinct appearance (moist lesion, slimy discharge, matted fur, red and swollen skin), rapid spread and excessive itching, chewing or licking of the area. Your vet may suggest taking a skin scraping to investigate if there are any other parasites present that may be causing the excessive itchiness.
Typically, treatment of a hot spot will involve some or all of the following:
Hot spots typically resolve within 3-7 days after starting treatment.
Treating the underlying causes of hot spots are key to preventing them from occurring.
Your dog should:
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