By Kellie McCutcheon
If your dog has ever suffered from a hot spot, you know how quickly they can appear (within minutes!). Hot spots are lesions that are itchy and painful, which your dog will try to lick, chew or scratch to make themselves feel better. Unfortunately, their attempt at pain relief can cause an even bigger issue. Some of the common causes of a hot spot:
- Flea-bite allergy (most common cause!)
- Food allergies
- Chemical irritant (ex, household cleaning products, new shampoo, weed killer)
- Skin, ear or anal gland infection
- Poor grooming
Hot spots come on quickly, so even though it is hard to tell what your dog has recently come in contact with, you don’t have to think that far back.
Hot spots are most likely to appear on your dog’s rear-end, near the rectum, or on their face (just below their ears). The fur over these areas is often matted and coated with an unsightly discharge. Serious itching can lead to large open wounds within minutes.
How to treat a Hot Spot
Firstly, all the fur covering and surrounding the lesion needs to be clipped or shaved. The area will be very sensitive and painful, so your vet might need to help with this step. Once the hair is removed, the wound needs to be gently cleaned with an antimicrobial shampoo. There are some great shampoos available for hot spots that will help soothe the area. Once clean, the area needs to be patted dry. Many dogs need to wear a shielding device, such as a cone, to prevent more chewing, licking or scratching that will further disturb area and slow down healing. There are also topical sprays that you can use on your dog that can temporarily help relieve the itch and pain.
Once a dog suffers from a hot spot, they are likely to get them again, but figuring out what the underlying cause of the hot spot was is the first step to helping your pet manage and prevent them.
Breeds that are Prone to Hot Spots
Any dog can suffer from hot spots, but breeds with long, thick coats tend to be more prone to them, such as:
- German Shepherds
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Golden Retrievers
Breeds that have a naturally higher rate of allergies are also more prone. Dogs that swim often or live in a humid climate are also more likely to be affected.
Did you know? Although more rare, cats can also get hot spots.