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Health & Wellness

Hot spots on dogs: causes and treatment

Protect your pup from painful skin irritation

You’re giving your pup their usual pets when you feel moist, red patches on their skin. If your dog shows signs of irritation or pain in those areas, you could have stumbled upon some hot spots. Veterinarian and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough explains what hot spots are, and how to help your pup feel better. 

What is a hot spot on a dog?

A hot spot is a skin irritation that stems from a larger, underlying issue that causes pups to lick, chew or scratch a certain area of skin. The patches sometimes leak clear discharge, are smelly and red and can cause matting. 

What causes hot spots on dogs? 

Unfortunately, hot spots can arise from anything that encourages your dog to lick, chew or scratch a specific area continually. Hot spots happen more during warmer months because of the excess moisture under dogs’ coats from swimming or bathing. Some common causes of hot spots on dogs are: 

  • Allergies
  • Skin infection
  • Irritation that’s made worse by a dog’s chewing and licking
  • Pain
  • Injury (like a bug bite or wound)
  • Flea infestation

Do hot spots affect certain dog breeds more than others? 

Dogs with thick or dense undercoats, like golden retrievers, German Shepherds, spaniels, St. Bernards and border collies, are more likely to develop hot spots because their longer hair makes it easier to trap moisture, which leads to hot spots.

Dog hot spot treatments

If you suspect your pup is struggling with a hot spot, always take them to the vet to get their professional opinion. Some common treatment options include: 

  • Wound treatment (a vet may decide to remove the surrounding fur and clean the area)
  • Topical medications like antibiotics or steroids
  • Antibiotics your pup can take in pill form
  • Anti-itch medications
  • E-collars

How long does it take hot spots to heal? 

Work with your pup’s veterinarian to identify and solve the underlying cause of the hot spots. Once you’ve found the right treatment, the patches typically heal within 3 to 7 days. 

Are hot spots on dogs contagious? 

Hot spots on dogs aren’t contagious, so feel free to do lots of cuddling while your pup is healing.

Can dogs get hot spots multiple times?

If you and your vet can’t solve the underlying issue behind your pup’s hot spots, they may reappear. So, it’s important to see your dog’s vet as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis. 

Don’t let itchy, painful patches of skin get your pup down. With your help (and our tips!), your dog will be feeling better in no time. 

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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