Written by FOTP Team
Does your dog have a raw, red patch of skin that he just can’t leave alone? It could be a hot spot, which is an irritation that has become infected. If it’s become painful it may require veterinary attention – here’s what to expect.
Just like humans, dogs can’t resist scratching an itch! Hot spots appear when your dog’s scratched, nibbled or rubbed at a bite, creating a raw patch on their skin. They look wet and red and might start to smell bad. If you find one on your dog, you’ll know you need to take them straight to the vet. Hot spots can be treated using antibiotics and steroids to prevent further irritation.
Hot spots start innocently enough – an insect bite, a small scratch, dry skin, or a cut. Maybe it’s in an irritating place, like your dog’s elbow, and can’t heal quickly. Naturally, your dog will turn their attention to it and start to nibble or scratch the area, creating a bigger patch of red skin. Because the dog keeps aggravating it, the wound doesn’t heal – and then becomes an infected ‘hot spot’.
Also known as acute moist dermatitis, a hot spot can be the result of itching caused by fleas or skin allergies. It’s really important that you get an accurate diagnosis because allergies can cause repeated incidents. They aren’t usually dangerous but can be extremely uncomfortable for your dog.
Hot spots should always be treated by a vet. If you can’t get an appointment right away, try to stop your dog from aggravating it.
You can use a collar if you already have one – a Buster anti-scratch collar, or one of those inflatable travel-pillow collars. (Choose depending on your dog’s character, and how likely they are to attempt to escape!)
Alternatively, you could simply cover up the hot spot. You can use a wound dressing and bandage or wound tape to cover it until you reach the vet (but this is a temporary solution, because a hot spot heals faster when it’s uncovered).
Another idea is to use a dog onesie or t-shirt! Choose a snug-fitting style or one with snaps, so your dog can’t take it off. If your dog’s worn outfits before, they might accept this more happily.
Future prevention starts with an accurate diagnosis. It’s simple if you know what started the hot spot (like a bite or flea infestation) but can be more complicated if your dog has an undiagnosed skin allergy.
If you suspect a skin allergy, check your dog’s skin regularly for signs of irritation, and consult with your vet. Skin allergies are common in dogs and can be caused by the usual culprits: grass, pollen, dust mites, and some foods. You’ll notice your dog is itchy and develops red or flaky patches of skin.
Diagnosing the cause of a skin allergy can be very difficult; start with a process of elimination.
Skin allergies are treatable and your vet can prescribe a course of steroids or antihistamines. Worried about keeping your dog on a lifelong prescription? At home you can bathe your dog using an emollient shampoo to soothe their skin. And don’t forget to add a supplement like Soothe, our skin superstar. It contains a triple dose of probiotics to deliver double benefits: improving gut health, and keeping your dog’s skin beautifully calm and balanced.