A dog scratching itself

While hot spots on dogs go by a few names, you know them when you see them. Hot spots (or summer sores or moist dermatitis) are a form of raw skin on your pet that can be very painful. While there can be a number of causes, the main cause is often attributed to a bacterial infection.

Read below to learn more about hot spots on dogs and how to treat your furry friend if they do develop the condition.

How Do Dogs Develop Hot Spots?

There are numerous ways that a dog can develop hot spots. The most basic way that hot spots develop is by scratching or licking. A hot spot is caused when the skin of your dog begins to scab up. So, your pet can be scratching excessively or biting themselves. If they get in a scuffle with another dog, you should take caution.

Really, a hot spot may occur when your dog has a wound that stays moist. There is naturally occurring bacteria on everything. And your pet has its own flora and fauna as well. A moist wound on your pet is the perfect breeding ground for this bacterium to take hold.

So, if your pet has scratched or otherwise hurt itself, a moist wound is going to allow bacteria to spread. Even if your pet is licking their wound, it can cause the infection to spread. Other things to avoid would be bathing (at least until healed), rain, swimming or other wet activities.

How to Treat a Dog with Hot Spots

Here is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that because hot spots are caused by bacteria, which can usually be treated easily with oral or topical antibiotics.

The bad news? If your dog has hot spots, it may need to go on antibiotics. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes people can feel uncomfortable giving pets antibiotics. Your dog may not feel great taking them. Just make sure that they are eating and drinking enough while they work their way through their prescription.

You can also help aid your pet’s recovery by shaving or trimming the affected area. This will help expose the wound to air and aid in keeping moisture out.

Next, make sure to keep the area clean. You should use a mild astringent or antiseptic spray to keep it disinfected while healing. If you’re putting creams or antiseptic on your pet, you’ll want to make sure they do not try licking the area as well.

Keep your pet from licking the affected area by using a prescribed hydrocortisone cream and using a plastic cone. The hydrocortisone will help stop itching and will promote healing. The plastic cone obviously stops your dog from reaching the affected area. Some people do not like using the plastic cone, but it is very important to stop your dog from spreading their infection.

If your dog’s hot spots do not improve, or if they get worse, you will need an antibiotic prescription. Most vets will prescribe a topical spray to help deal with hot spots. Depending on the severity though, you may be giving your dog oral antibiotics. It’s important to keep an eye on your pet’s hot spots but trust your vet to know when oral antibiotics should be used.

How to Prevent Hot Spots on Dogs

The most important and easiest way to prevent hot spots is to watch your dog. You should be out with your dog when they’re at play, and if they are hurt, be sure to help patch them up. An untreated wound can easily develop hot spots.

Another important way to prevent hotspots is properly grooming your pet. Moisture is one of the key components in the development of hot spots. If you keep your pet’s coat groomed, there is less fur to trap in moisture. So regular maintenance cannot be overstated. This is especially true in the summer months. When it is warm, bacteria are better able to grow.

Diet can also be an important part of preventing hot spots. You want to be sure you’re giving your pet a healthy diet that contains essential fatty acids. This promotes healthy scalp and a coat.

Some dogs develop food allergies. This will lead to excessive scratching and cause hot spots. Be sure to take note if your pet is very itchy and take the proper steps to help your pooch out.

Most important for any pet, make sure they get enough interaction and exercise. This reduces your pet’s stress and will help prevent them from getting into trouble.

Are Some Breeds More Prone to Hot Spots?

There are no specific breeds of dogs that are more prone to hot spots than others. However, dogs with matted or dirty coats and dogs that love swimming may develop hot spots.

Also, dogs with long, thick coats are often prone to hot spots. These breeds include:

  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Rottweilers
  • Bernards

We suggest checking your dog’s scalp if you notice them scratching more often. Even if it’s not a hot spot, there may be other reasons for chronic itching.

The Best Treatment Comes from Your Vet

Although treating a hot spot at home may seem like the best way to get your pup feeling better, consulting with your vet is the safest, most effective treatment. Vets have tools and medications at their disposal that pet parents just don’t.

Your vet will be able to tell you definitively if your dog has a hot spot. In addition to that, they’ll show you how to treat it in the future. Medications prescribed may accelerate your dog’s healing and save them from days or weeks of pain.

Of course, hot spots are not life-threatening, but they are bothersome. Don’t wait too long to get your dog checked out. Save for dog from some of the pain and discomfort by getting medical attention as soon as you see a hot spot.