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Hotspots In Dogs – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Hotspots In Dogs

What Is Hotspots In Dogs?

Canine hot spots are red, wet, raised, inflamed, irritated skin lesions that are mucopurulent and itchy. Hot spots crop up all through the dog’s body, but the most common locations are the face, ears, abdomen, feet, flexural surfaces of the front legs, and axillae.

When the dog excessively licks, chews, and scratches at the hurting and itchy spot on its skin, this leads to a raw, reddened, and often oozing sore. Although there is no breed inclination, the agonizing sores are most common on dogs that have matted fur and/or like to play or swim in the water. These sore, smelly, itchy sores may form underneath the thick fur or are very obvious.

Also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis or acute moist dermatitis, “hot spots” are categorized as a type of ‘surface pyoderma’ together with skin fold dermatitis and skin fold pyoderma.

Symptoms Of Hotspots In Dogs

  • Redness, irritation, or an inflamed area in the skin.
  • Malodorous odor in the reddened area.
  • Crusted scabs or oozing sores.
  • Rubbing, scratching, or Pawing at the affected area.
  • Patchy or inconsistent hair loss.
  • Dry scaly skin
  • Self-trauma

Treatment Options For Hotspots In Dogs

  • Allergy Therapy: Injectable Cytopoint or Apoquel may be prescribed or a hypoallergenic therapeutic diet can be tried (food elimination trial).
  • Anti-inflammatories: Topical, oral or injectable corticosteroids. Synotic (Zoetis), fluocinolone, etc.
  • Topical Adulticides: (fipronil, imidacloprid, metaflumizone, selamectin, indoxacarb).
  • Oral Adulticides: (nitenpyram, spinosad).
  • Antihistamines - Cyproheptadine, Chlorpheniramine, Cetirizine, Clemastine, Hydroxyzine, and Trimeprazine.
  • Corticosteroids and Immunosuppressive Agents - Cyclosporine (Atopica), Cortisone (dexamethasone, prednisone, prednisolone), Azathioprine, leflunomide, and mycophenolate mofetil.
  • Antipruritic Drugs: Pentoxifylline (Trental), Misoprostol (CytotecR), Zileuton.
  • Antibiotics and Antifungal Medications - These are required to treat secondary infections.

Home Remedies For Hotspots In Dogs

  • For chewy or scratchy dogs, Consider using an inflatable/ Elizabethan
  • Use pet-friendly anti microbial wipes and keep the dog clean and dry.
  • Clean food and water bowl daily.
  • Use ointments/Creams to ease itching & irritation.
  • Use Cold compresses when needed.

How To Prevent Hotspots In Dogs?

  • The best way of hot spot prevention is to address skin inflammation and itching as soon as it occurs.
  • When you find out your dog is allergic to fleas, avoidance is the best method of control.
  • Use medicated wipes containing a skin disinfectant; keep the fur/jowls/mouth clean which is usually twice a day.
  • Don’t forget to dry the area thoroughly after cleaning.
  • Clean the dog's skin folds at least twice weekly with clean paper towels (or a clean washcloth), medicated dog shampoo (e.g. Nolvasan medicated shampoo), spray, wipes, and skin cleanser.
  • If you bathe your dog less often, you’ll have to spot clean the area daily to get rid of trapped food and moisture.
  • Consult with your veterinarian dermatologist for hypoallergenic vaccinations.

Affected Dog Breeds Of Hotspots

Golden Retriever, Saint Bernard, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Rottweiler, Boxer, Boston Terrier, Shar Pei, Lhasa Apso, Old English Sheepdog, Scottish Terrier, Shih Tzu, Wire Fox Terrier. There is no sex predisposition.

Causes And Diagnosis For Hotspots In Dogs

  1. Causes:
  • Cuts or abrasions
  • Flea allergies
  • Foreign objects (splinters/thorns).
  • Insect bites
  • Anal gland infection / Ear infection
  • Chewing or licking due to stress or boredom.
  • Food allergies
  • Matted fur
  1. Morbidity:
  • Hotspots typically start off as localized skin infections, progressing to raised, condensed, alopecic nodules or plaques.
  • The middle of the lesion is often reddish, ulcerated, moist, or scabby.
  • Hyperpigmentation of the skin as usual.
  • There is no sex predilection. It affects male and female dogs equally.
  1. Mortality:

There is no documented mortality due to this condition.

  1. Diagnosis:
  • Complete blood count, and chemistry panel.
  • Specialized blood tests (IgE blood tests).
  • Intradermal testing (IDT).
  • Serological allergy testing using ELISA.
  • Flea saliva antigen (FSA).
  1. Prognosis:

The prognosis for hotspots is really good. When the initial irritant is properly addressed, the pet should completely recover from the lesions. However, relapse will be a problem following medical treatment in affected dogs. If the hotspot is left untreated, it can lead to serious infection, as well as throbbing pain.

When To See A Vet For Hotspots In Dogs?

Contact your vet right away, if you notice any of the following:

  • Pruritus (Scratching, Itching, Rubbing, Licking).
  • Reddening and thickening of the skin.

Food Suggestions For Hotspots In Dogs

  • Consider a diet with all essential nutrients and also provides plenty of antioxidants (combat free radicals).
  • An allergen-free (hypoallergenic) balanced diet (check for thickeners, coatings, flavors).
  • Omega3 fatty acids - Mackerel, Tuna, Sardines, Salmon, Herring, Flaxseed, Chia seeds, etc.
  • Lean meats, such as 90 % leaner Ground meat (beef, bison, chicken, turkey).
  • Leafy green vegetables such as Spinach, Green Beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, etc.
  • Low fat, high protein foods - Turkey, pork loin, fresh fish, salmon, shrimp, canned tuna Skinless, beans, split peas, and lentils.


Hotspot's prognosis is good with treatment. The recovery time for hotspots is different for every dog. You’ll get a good idea of when to expect improvements depending on the treatment plan or medication schedule prescribed by your vet. Treatment may need to be evaluated often to stop relapse. The prognosis is excellent when it is diagnosed early.

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