What to Do When Your Dog Has a Hot Spot?

What is a hot spot?

Hot spots are one of the most frustrating skin conditions your dog can get. The sores appear on the surface of your dog’s skin and can rapidly become large, painful lesions. Hot spots can appear anywhere on your dog’s body but the most common areas to find them are the head, neck or hip. Hot spots are not dangerous to your dog’s health but it can be very irritating for them as it can be very painful so it’s best that we treat as soon as possible.

What causes it?

Hot spots can develop from any skin irritation your dog has such as an insect bite, allergy (environmental or food). It can be compared to getting a mosquito bite, it becomes so itchy that you want to continuously scratch it. Your dog is doing anything and everything they can to relieve the itch such as scratching, licking and biting. The area then becomes red, raw, and develops into a painful sore.

What to do if you see a hot spot?

Inform your veterinarian as soon as possible. Although it’s not an emergency, hot spots are very uncomfortable and you want your pet feeling back to their happy, healthy selves.

How will the wound be treated?

When treating the hot spot, the main goal is to get the sore cleaned and clip the hair around the area to let the air get to it. A really important step is to deter your pet from further traumatizing the area. An e-collar or “cone of shame” may be needed for this step. Your veterinarian may give an injectable drug at the appointment as well as send you home with:

  • Instructions for cleaning the wound
  • A topical or oral steroid for management of pain and itching
  • A flea preventative

Will the hot spot return?

There is a chance the hot spot will return if the underlying cause has not been found so your veterinarian will want to understand when your pet develops the hot spots and how often they develop. This is why it’s so important to keep in touch with your veterinarian and let them know when skin issues arise so your veterinarian can help your pet live a long and happy life.

Written by: MacKenzie Matches, RVT