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What Are Hot Spots?

The term Hot Spot is a generalized term used for dermatitis. This usually occurs with canines and found when there is an infection of the superficial layers of the skin. This will typically happen when the normal bacteria found on the skin take over and penetrate the skin barriers, most likely from damage to the outer skin layer. Most dogs will start with a very small area being affected then owners will see within a day it can rapidly spread over the skin’s surface. These affected areas are referred to as ‘hotspots’ or ‘moist dermatitis’ as often these will appear to be oozing or open sores. There are not any definitive causes for hot spots, but there are some things that you as a dog owner can do to help prevent our furry friends from getting them.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Chronic itching in the same spot
  • Red pimple like pustules spreading over the skin’s surface
  • Smelly foul odour coming from skin spot
  • Wet and oozy spot on the skin


  • Use clippers and remove all the hair in the affected area- usually affected the skin in spread out much larger than the actual wet spot, so as a rule, you shave until normal skin is seen
  • Wash the skin with chlorhexidine soap- usually done multiple times a day
  • Treat topically with an antibiotic cream that also contains a mild steroid to help relieve the itch and discomfort- usually applied multiple times a day
  • Oral antibiotics will likely be needed to help kill off bacterial overgrowth and allow the skin to heal the skin barrier
  • An Elizabethan collar should be worn at all times to prevent any chewing or rubbing of the skin, as the more the skin is scratched the more the bacteria will spread into broken skin sores

How you can help to prevent hotspots:

  • Ensure proper drying after being in water; moisture trapped in the undercoat of the fur is prime conditions for bacteria to grow in excess numbers
  • After swimming in bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and ponds is best to wash your dog with a pet-friendly shampoo ( aloe & oatmeal) to remove any excess bacteria on the skin
  • Try to avoid using highly fragranced shampoos
  • Make sure all soap is removed after bathing
  • Ensure your pet is parasite free, especially fleas as they cause itching and scratching of the skin
  • Treat your pets skin allergies if any noted

Written by: Fairmont Animal Hospital



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