What is a Hot Spot?

Hot Spots (also called Acute Moist Dermatitis) are generally circular patches that loose hair, can be swollen, usually ooze a yellow or clear puss, bleed, and are painfully itchy, causing the dog to lick, scratch, or bite at it making the problem worse. If the spot is in an area that you can, a good idea is to put an E-collar on the dog to keep it from scratching or chewing the spot.

The hot spot will scab over after a few days or as long as a week or two depending on how severe it is.

The picture at the bottom of this article is one that is starting to dry up.

They can occur anywhere on the dogs body. If they occur on the side of the face right below the ear it can be a sign of an ear infection.

What are they caused by?

Hot spots can be caused by fleas, mites, or other skin parasites, skin allergies, or ear infections. If there are none of the above symptoms, a hot spot can simply be caused by a dog being stressed out or from shedding. One of my dogs almost always gets a hot spot if she is left outside for any longer than a couple days.

They often seem to appear out of nowhere and can, and often, do, enlarge within a matter of hours.

Another cause could be an allergy that the dog has to a certain food. If it was a food allergy the dog would most likely be getting hot spots all the time and not just every now and then. Or, they may spring up if you just changed the kind of dog food you were feeding and it may not be a food allergy at all.

How to treat a Hot Spot?

*Conventional Treatment*

The dog will usually need to be sedated or anesthetized for the initial treatment. Clip away hair to expose the hot spot. Gently cleanse the skin with a dilute povidone-iodine shampoo (Betadine) or a chlorhexidine shampoo (Nolvasan). Allow the skin to dry. Then apply an antibiotic steroid cream (Panalog or Neocort) twice a day for 10 to 14 days. Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a short course of oral corticosteroids to control severe itching. (P. 141 of Dog Owners Veterinary Handbook 3rd edition by James M. Griffin, MD & Liisa D. Carlson, DVM)

*At Home Treatment*

While most people might freak out when they see a hot spot and take their dog to the vet, I personally feel no need to run to the vet when I see one. There are many at home remedies that I have found that work well. And I have dealt with MANY hot spots over the past few years.

What you want to do is dry the hot spot out in order to get rid of the infection. This is the only way to deal with it since it is Acute Moist Dermatitis. Below are a few treatments to try. The first two combined together I have found to work the best. Apply Hot Spot Treatment #1 in the morning and apply Hot Spot Treatment #2 in the evening or vice versa.

Hot Spot Treatment #1-

Mix equal parts Hydrogen Peroxide, Milk of Magnesia & Corn Starch. If only doing this apply at least twice a day.

Hot Spot Treatment #2-

Goldbond Medicated Body Powder. Apply at least twice a day if only doing this treatment.

*Note*- Walmart sells an off brand of medicated body powder that works just as well and is cheaper then the Goldbond brand. The brand is Total Body.

Hot Spot Treatment #3-

Make a really strong batch of black tea (about 15 tea bags per 2 cups of water). Apply to the spot at least 3 times a day if only doing this treatment.

Once the hot spot is no longer oozy (i.e. looks all dry) apply Bag Balm or some kind of moisturizer once or twice a day in order for the hair to grow back nicely. Bag Balm can be bought at most feed stores or Walmart.

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