Uncover the Causes Behind Hot Spots on Dogs

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Hot Spots on Dogs: What Causes Hot Spots?

Hot Spots on Dogs: What You Need to Know

If you’ve ever seen your furry friend licking, scratching, or chewing at a particular spot on their body, chances are they’re suffering from a hot spot. These uncomfortable skin lesions can be a common problem for dogs, but what exactly causes them?

Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, are areas of intense inflammation and infection on the skin. They typically start as small, red, moist areas that quickly become larger and more painful. Hot spots can occur anywhere on the body, but they’re most commonly found on the head, chest, and legs.

The most common cause of hot spots is excessive moisture, which can come from a variety of sources, including:

  • Allergies
  • Skin infections
  • Parasites
  • Injuries
  • Excessive grooming

Once a hot spot forms, it can become a vicious cycle. The dog scratches or licks the area, which further irritates the skin and causes more inflammation. This makes the hot spot more painful and difficult to heal.

If you think your dog has a hot spot, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. The vet will be able to diagnose the hot spot and prescribe the appropriate treatment. Treatment typically involves antibiotics to clear up the infection and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. The vet may also recommend using a topical ointment or shampoo to help soothe the skin.

Hot spots can be uncomfortable and painful for dogs, but they’re usually not serious if treated promptly. With proper care, most hot spots will heal within a few days.

Hot Spots on Dogs: What Causes Hot Spots?


Hot spots, also known as moist dermatitis or acute moist dermatitis, are common skin infections in dogs. They are characterized by red, inflamed, and oozing areas of skin that can be very painful for your pet. Hot spots can occur anywhere on the body, but they are most commonly found on the head, chest, and hindquarters.

What Causes Hot Spots?

Hot spots are caused by a combination of factors, including:

  • Moisture: Hot spots thrive in moist environments. This can be due to excessive licking, chewing, or rolling in wet areas.
  • Bacteria: The bacteria Staphylococcus pseudintermedius is the most common cause of hot spots. These bacteria are normally found on the skin of dogs, but they can overgrow and cause infection when the skin is damaged.
  • Allergens: Allergies to food, environmental triggers, or contact irritants can also contribute to hot spots.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Dogs with certain hormonal imbalances, such as Cushing’s disease, are more prone to developing hot spots.

Personal Experience

My dog, Max, recently developed a hot spot on his back leg. I noticed him licking and chewing at the area, and when I examined it, I saw a small, red, and inflamed patch of skin. I took him to the vet, who confirmed that it was a hot spot and prescribed antibiotics and topical medications.

Symptoms of Hot Spots

The symptoms of hot spots can vary depending on the severity of the infection. Common symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Oozing or discharge
  • Pain
  • Licking or chewing at the area

Diagnosis of Hot Spots

Your vet will diagnose hot spots based on your dog’s symptoms and a physical examination. They may also take a skin scraping or culture to confirm the diagnosis and identify the underlying cause.

Treatment of Hot Spots

The treatment of hot spots typically involves a combination of:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria that are causing the infection.
  • Topical medications: Topical medications, such as creams or ointments, can help to soothe the inflammation and reduce itching.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: Anti-inflammatory medications can help to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Clipping and cleaning: In severe cases, your vet may need to clip the hair around the hot spot and clean the area to remove any debris or discharge.

Prevention of Hot Spots

There are several things you can do to help prevent hot spots in your dog:

  • Keep your dog’s skin clean and dry.
  • Avoid excessive licking or chewing.
  • Treat allergies and skin conditions promptly.
  • Manage hormonal imbalances.

Image of a hot spot on a dog’s skin

Hot spot on a dog's skin


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