Hot Spots in Dogs

dog with hot spotHot Spots, also known as Summer Sores, is a skin problem scientifically called Moist Eczema or Acute Moist Pyoderma by veterinarians. They are painful skin infections in dogs that often ooze pus from the sore and can spread quickly.

The Signs:

Symptoms are often simple scratching, licking, and biting; move away the hair and you'll see why your pet is upset. It is important to treat it right away as it can get worse in a matter of hours, and in some cases lead to an extremely painful, and chronic situation.

The Causes:

What causes a hot spot in a dog is different for every dog. Some dogs never have them; other dogs can't get rid of them. Certain shampoos can trigger an outbreak, as can your dog’s diet . Other factors commonly include flea or tick bites, or other insect bites, stickers and burrs, matted hair and fur, warm weather, and allergies .


The key to treating a hot spot is drying the area. Sometimes this means shaving the area of hair just beyond the lesions of the sore to allow air space and healing. When treating it initially, use an astringent to clean and dry the sore. Try to find one with an antibiotic that kills the bacteria as well. Antiseptic solutions like Betadine can help. Repeat this process every two to four hours as needed for the first couple of days and keep it clean for the rest of the week. It should start to heal well at that point. Sometimes this alone will not help the irritation your pet is enduring. If this is the case, you may try antibiotics from the doctor and/or use a cortisone cream. This isn't usually suggested as some say it traps in moisture - essentially what you are trying to avoid. If your pet continues to scratch s/he may be making it worse by maiming his/her own skin. Sometimes an Elizabethan collar is in order to prevent self-mutilation.

The best treatment for hot spots is prevention. You can determine the cause easily in most cases by the process of elimination and/or recent changes in your dog’s food or activities. Once you have established the cause, begin working on changes.

If it is an allergy, speak with your vet to find out what you can do to help minimize it. Reduce allergens in the home by vacuuming often, ridding household dust, plant pollens and chemicals . Keep him/her treated for fleas and ticks as well as they cause the initial itches that lead to the scratching. Limit any/all problems that may manifest. Also talk to your vet about giving Benadryl, an over-the-counter antihistamine known to help.

If it is food allergy, try changing his/her food to meat-based food of optimum quality. Sometimes dietary supplements can help as well as Benadryl. Talk to your vet for recommended foods and supplements.

Bathing your dog in oatmeal-based shampoos has been known to help. If your dog is a longhaired breed, pay particular attention to developing a strict grooming schedule. Newfoundlands, Old English Sheepdogs, Shit-Tzu's and the like have undercoats that shed and can get trapped. Always keep your dog well groomed and clean as a big furry coat can mat and trap moisture and other irritants.

Unfortunately a dog that is prone to Acute Moist Pyoderma will usually always be prone to it. Some have suggested that where one hot spot has occurred, it will occur there again. The only way to avoid chronic problems is to prevent them.

Lakeside Veterinary clinic assumes no liability for injury to you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.