What Causes Hot Spots On Dogs

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Lesions, also known as hot spots, can appear on your dog’s body suddenly. The location can be random and their rapid growth can be astonishing. But what are these inflamed patches of raw skin, and why do they appear?

One way of detecting if there is any sort of skin irritation is if your dog persistently scratches, chews, or licks any part of his or her skin. If this continues, the dog will begin to lose hair from the irritated area, which will become red, inflamed and moist with pus. Your dog now has a hot spot.

If left untreated, hot spots can continue to agitate your canine friend to the point of self-mutilation. The best way to treat and prevent these harmful sores is to determine what is making your dog scratch, bite or lick its skin.

Finding a Spot

Depending on the length of their fur and the severity of the sore, it may be difficult to find your dog’s hot spots. Search your dog’s coat by gently separating the hair in the area where the dog is scratching, licking or chewing. Examine the remaining fur for other areas where hot spots have formed. Use caution while doing so, as hot spots on dogs can be very painful and may cause the nicest of animals to show fear or aggression.

Determining a Cause

Hot Spots on dogs occur when the dog’s skin is irritated. The itchy skin causes the dog to scratch and bite the spot persistently. Once the wound is open, it is susceptible to bacterial infections, causing excessive oozing and a foul odor.

There are a number of different factors that could cause your dog’s hot spot. The best way to diagnose the issue is to take them to a veterinarian for proper testing.

  • Food Allergy – If your dog’s hot spots seem to appear often after eating, they may have a grain-based or other food allergy. Switch to either a hypoallergenic or grain-free diet and see if the hot spots diminish.
  • Environmental Allergy – Just like humans, many dogs have an allergic reaction to ragweed, pollen, mold and other environmental allergens. Consult with your vet about the best way to determine if your pet has an environmental allergic reaction and, if so, the best way to treat it.
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis – A common cause of hot spots is flea bites on dogs that are exceptionally sensitive to them. It takes only one flea bite to create an agitating hot spot. Use a flea comb to check your pet for fleas and administer a monthly flea and tick medicine.
  • Internal Discomfort – If a dog is experiencing a painful internal issue, such as an ear infection or bad hip joint, they may scratch, bite or lick the spot that is agitating them. Nerve pain in the limbs can cause the dog to bite or lick their legs. These hot spots due to internal complications are very painful for your pet and they need to be taken to a vet immediately.
  • Psychological Issues – Dogs with anxiety, stress or obsessive compulsive disorders can develop hot spots, and some even through shear boredom. This can be very difficult to remedy. Keep your pet stress-free and provide them with adequate stimulation, exercise and attention to help avoid further hot spots.
  • Improper Grooming – All pets need to be groomed regularly, especially those with thick coats . Neglecting to do so may result in matting of the fur, dirt getting trapped in the skin, uncomfortable nail length, etc. Take the dog to a professional groomer or maintain and clean your dog’s coat yourself.

Although hot spots can occur anywhere, one common location in large canines is under the ear flaps, because of the breed’s heavy and hairy ears. Any dog can develop hot spots, but there are several breeds that are naturally prone to developing skin allergies. These dogs include:

  • Golden Retrievers
  • Newfoundlands
  • Boston Terriers
  • Dalmatians
  • English Bull Dogs
  • English Setters
  • Irish Setters
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Pugs
  • Cairn Terriers
  • Sealyham Terriers
  • Scottish Terriers
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Wire-haired Fox Terriers

Hot Spot Treatment and Prevention

Take your dog to the vet to cure any hot spots and help determine the best way to prevent them from reoccurring.

To rid the hot spots of any bacterial infection and promote effective healing, use antibiotic ointment. Other medication may be prescribed to relieve itching, as well as an E-collar to prevent your pet from biting, licking or scratching the affected area. Once the lesion is healed, you must take precautions to ensure your dog does not continue to get hot spots.

Know what ailments your dog is predisposed to. If your dog has a history of ear infections, for example, those hot spots around the ears are most likely a reoccurrence of ear issues. Take proper care of grooming, diet and behavioral needs in order to avoid further hot spots on dogs.



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