The Impact Of Hot Spots On Elderly Dogs


Older dogs are affected more by certain disorders. Those susceptible to hot spots are no different.

Hot spots, also known as Pyotramatic, Acute Moist Dermatitis, Moist Eczema or Summer Sores, are common wounds that occur when a dog consistently scratches, licks or chews on the skin. These sores can appear anywhere on the body and are sensitive, painful and itchy. The lesions will commonly be red and moist with pus and will leave the dog agitated, leading them to excessively lick the area. These spontaneous spots can grow quickly and will need treatment as soon as possible as the skin can begin deteriorating within hours.

Hot Spots on dogs occur when the dog’s skin is irritated, developing inflammation at the site. Because the area is itchy, the dog will scratch and bite the spot persistently, sometimes self-mutilating themselves in the processes. Once the wound is open, it is susceptible to bacterial infections, causing excessive oozing and a foul odor.

The initial skin irritation can be caused by a number of factors such as:

  • Environmental allergies including grass, weeds, mold dust, etc.
  • Food allergies or a poor diet
  • Prior skin infections, scrapes or wounds
  • Neglectful grooming
  • Fleas, mites and other dermatological parasites
  • Insect bites or stings


Internal infections can also lead to hot spots on dogs, including ear or anal gland infections. A trip to the vet can help determine which of these factors is causing your dog’s sores.


These factors are much more prevalent in elderly dogs due to limited mobility, internal discomfort and psychological issues.


Limited Mobility


Older dogs are less mobile, making them more prone to hot spots. Their restlessness and boredom causes them to compulsively lick their skin frequently, developing sores. To prevent this, provide your dog with exercise and attention. Maintaining adequate physical activity reduces hot spots on dogs, but also helps with the geriatric pet’s digestive and cardiovascular health. Allow them plenty of rest, though, and do not exercise them at the same intensity that they experienced when they were younger. Once your dog begins to pant, let them relax before coaxing them into more physical activities.

Internal Discomfort


As a dog gets older, their immune system, bones and organ functions decrease. If your pet is experiencing a painful internal issue, they may bite or lick the spot that is agitating them, such as an ear infection or bad hip joint. Nerve pain through the limbs can also cause the dog to bite or lick their legs. These hot spots due to internal complications can be very painful, so it is necessary to take your pet to the vet immediately.


Psychological Issues


Older dogs have an increased risk of developing anxiety and stress which can lead to hot spots. This inability to handle stress is due to a decrease in the dog’s hormones that affect how they adapt to change. Interruptions in their routines and stressful situations alter the dog’s normal habits and cause them to become stubborn, anxious and agitated. These stressful situations can cause the dog to anxiously nip or lick the skin, eventually resulting in sores and hot spots. This can be a very difficult cause to remedy. Try to keep your pet stress-free and prevent them from licking or chewing on their skin.




As your canine friend ages, their nutritional needs will change in order to avoid skin irritation and maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Switch from feeding them once or twice a day to several times a day with smaller portions. This allows them more social interactions and can reduce their risk of developing hot spots due to boredom. Give them additional supplements such as fiber, antioxidants and omega fatty acids as well. Older dogs are more prone to dehydration, so be sure to have water available to them throughout the day. This will ensure your pet is receiving all the hydration and nutrients they require for their aging bodies.


Proper nutrition in general can help avoid hot spots on dogs. Check the nutritional facts on your pet’s dog food. The ingredients are listed in order of the amount contained in the food. Meat-based items such as chicken, beef, lamb or fish are crucial ingredients that should be listed first to ensure a healthy coat for your pet. If corn is listed, toss the bag and upgrade to a more quality, meat-based product.




As your dog gets older, matting in the fur is more common, so frequent grooming is vital for their health. Brushing them often can help avoid or manage any minor tangles in the fur.


Since your elderly dog’s activity has decreased, their nails will not wear down as quickly as they used to, so they will need to be trimmed more often. Clipping a dog’s nails, though, can sometimes be difficult. Nervous owners commonly cut the nails too short, developing a fear in a dog that already avoids its paws being handled.  A rotary grooming tool is a nice alternative to the tradition clippers. If using clippers, cut small amounts at a time, ensuring you don’t clip the blood vessel located at the base of the nail. If this should happen, simply apply pressure along with corn starch or styptic powder.

Make your aging dog as comfortable as possible. Provide proper grooming, exercise, a well-balanced diet and a stress-free environment to reduce the risk of hot spots on your geriatric pet.


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