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Hot Spots

The term “hot spot” refers to an incredibly irritated, infected lesion on the skin usually due to a hypersensitivity reaction. Hot spots are most commonly seen in the summer. In many cases, hot spots will occur on dogs with long, dense fur. The skin often stays moist because of the dense coat, making the skin more susceptible to secondary bacterial infections and inflammation. Bug bites, small lacerations, intense licking/chewing, fleas, mites, and allergies are all potential causes of hot spots. These areas become intensely pruritic (itchy) and generally self-trauma will perpetuate the problem.


Hot spots are diagnosed on the basis of physical examination and history. Skin scrapings and cytology may be performed to rule out underlying causes and/or identify the agents perpetuating the infection. If there is a suspicion of an underlying factor increasing the susceptibility of an animal getting hot spots; i.e. hypothyroidism, other metabolic disorders, Cushing’s disease, etc. further tests may be indicated.


Treatment of the hot spot itself is usually straightforward:

The area is clipped and cleaned with an

antiseptic solution

Anti-inflammatory sprays, creams or tablets are

dispensed to decrease the redness and irritation

Antibiotic cream or tablets are used to eradicate

the secondary infection

Some animals will require an e-collar (cone-shaped

collar) to prevent them from further traumatizing

the area

Antihistamines may also be recommended

Some cases will call for special cleansing at home

with an antiseptic solution that we will prescribe,

otherwise cleansing with a mild soap or hydrogen

peroxide works well

If hot spots are common in your animal or the history and physical exam suggest an underlying issue, this will need to be addressed as well.


Although many times the cause of a hot spot is unknown, there are a few suggestions to decrease their occurrence.

Completely dry the coat after bathing or swimming

Keep animals with long fur trimmed in the

summer months

Prevent/control external parasites with high-quality

products like Frontline or Advantix

Any area that appears red and irritated, clip/shave

the fur to allow for better air circulation

Clip/brush out any mats, burrs, etc.

Be cautious of shock collars, etc. as they can cause

a large amount of irritation, especially if they are on

for continuous periods of time or are too tight

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