Hot Spots and Pets: What You Can Do to Help Your Furry Friend

dog in a cone

Scratching is the natural reaction when your skin itches, whether you're a person or an animal. Although a few seconds of vigorous scratching may feel good initially, raking your nails over your skin usually only worsens the problem. Unfortunately, dogs and cats don't know when it's time to stop scratching and may soon develop uncomfortable hot spots on their skin.

What Are Hot Spots?

Hot spots are moist, inflamed, infected areas of skin that feel warm to the touch. Formally called moist dermatitis, the spots can affect both dogs and cats but are more common in dogs. Hot spots can form anywhere on the body, but often develop on the chest, head and hips in dogs and on the tail, head, neck or thigh in cats. Because frequent licking or scratching can cause hair loss, red hot spots are usually very noticeable. If the spots aren't treated promptly, they can worsen and increase in size.

What Causes Hot Spots?

Hot spots develop when your dog or cat continually licks, bites or scratches the skin. When the licking or scratching causes a break in the skin, a painful infection develops. Hots spots tend to occur due to:

  • Flea Infestations
  • Food Allergies
  • Environmental Allergies
  • Stress
  • Joint Pain (Your dog or cat scratches or licks in an attempt to stop the pain.)
  • Matted Hair
  • Insect Bites
  • Contact with Irritating Substances
  • Parasites
  • Boredom
  • Eczema
  • A Foreign Object in the Hair or Skin
  • Infections of the Ears of Skin

Some dogs, such as rottweilers, German shepherds, St. Bernards, Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers, are more likely to develop hot spots than others.

How are Hot Spots Treated?

Reducing the inflammation and killing the bacteria responsible for the infection are important steps in your pet's hot spot treatment plan. Your pet's veterinarian will trim the hair around the spot to make it easier for you to apply the topical medications that will reduce pain, inflammation and infection. Your pet may also need to take antibiotics for a few weeks and may need corticosteroids to decrease itching and inflammation.

It's important to keep your pet from scratching, licking or biting the hot spot while it heals. If your dog or cat just can't leave the spot alone, he or she may need to wear an Elizabethan collar for a few days.

Although these treatments are very effective in healing hot spots, the condition may occur again unless a cause is determined and changes are made. If your pet suffers from a food allergy, eliminating the foods or ingredients that cause the allergic reaction may be helpful. Environmental allergies can be successful managed with special shampoos, immunotherapy, Omega-3 fatty acids or antihistamines. Steroids are usually only recommended if allergy symptoms are severe and don't respond to other treatments.

Flea and tick preventatives are very helpful if your pet developed a hot spot due to a flea infestation. In addition to treating your pet, it's also important to treat your yard with a flea product, wash bedding and toys, and vacuum your home thoroughly to remove any lingering fleas or eggs.

If your dog or cat has started licking, scratching or biting due to boredom, making a few changes to your furry friend's routine can be helpful. Your dog may benefit by spending more time outdoors with you. In addition to long walks and trips to the dog park, agility training or other activities that keep your pet active and engaged can be beneficial. Cats also benefit from extra play time, particularly if they're the only pet in your home.

Hot spots in older pets may actually be a sign of arthritis or hip dysplasia. Your pet's veterinarian may recommend pain medication and joint supplements to ease your dog or cat's pain and improve mobility. In addition to medications, making a few modifications, such as installing a ramp to your bed if your pet sleeps with you, buying a litter box with low sides and providing a heated resting place during the colder months of the year, can improve your pet's comfort and prevent hot spots.

Treating hot spots promptly will help your pet avoid serious infections. If you notice a sore on your pet's skin, give us a call. We'll arrange a convenient appointment and offer treatment to ease your furry friend's pain and address the underlying cause of the condition.

Sources:

American Kennel Club: Treating and Preventing Hot Spots in Dogs, 10/4/16

http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/treating-and-preventing-hot-spots-on-dogs/

Healthy Pets: Hot Spots: How to Treat Them and What Do They Mean, 6/4/15

https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2015/06/04/hot-spot-treatment.aspx

Cesar’s Way: Hot Spots on Dogs: Causes and Treatment

https://www.cesarsway.com/hot-spots-on-dogs-causes-and-treatment/

Contact Us Today!

Contact us using the form or call us at 804-741-3200.

Monday:

7:30am

6:00pm

Tuesday:

7:30am

7:00pm

Wednesday:

7:30am

7:00pm

Thursday:

7:30am

7:00pm

Friday:

7:30am

6:00pm

Saturday:

7:30am

2:00pm

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Dr. Evans was so patient and kind with our kitty "Cookie". Very caring and so helpful and answered many questions for me concerning her health. The office staff are kind, caring, and professional. The office is immaculate. I have never been to a vet where my pets and myself were treated so well. Love it and so glad to have found them. Best vet appointment ever!"
    Dorothy M.
  • "We have used the Q for over 15 years for our cats and our dogs. Dr. Mortimer is a genius at diagnosing and treating a wide array of issues, and we have relied on his skills to help our animals live to amazing ages. The staff is incredibly caring. They do everything possible to help when we call or come in with a sick animal. They truly care for our pets, and many of the staff will come out from the back to pet our dogs
    when they come in. They are so patient with shy animals like our ferally cat Stasha who needed laser treatments, and our Bagle Topsy who is afraid of her own shadow.Yes, they are not the cheapest vet in town, but they work with us on making a treatment plan we can afford, and we feel that the value and the care are well worth it. Thank you to everyone at the Q for their dedication and loving care."
    Sally M. / December 21, 2017
  • "Met with Dr. Hiser today for the first time. Everyone at the
    clinic--from the desk staff to the vet techs to the veterinarian were warm and welcoming. My dog Iris--who is often nervous around new people--was comfortable there and (I think) made a few new friends. Looking forward to a continued relationship with the clinic as my sweet girl grows up. Thanks, thanks thanks."
    Stephanie C. / June 27, 2018
  • "My three chihuahuas have been Dr. Mortimer's patients for over nine years. The expertise, love, and care demonstrated for each pet is extraordinary. The doctors and staff go the extra mile to help their patients and the parents. They are truly an amazing group that love and care for each pet. If there was a review rated outstanding, that would have been my choice!"
    Donna C. / June 10, 2018
  • "I would highly recommended QVH. All of the staff are so kind and compassionate. They are so willing to help and never mind answering any questions you may have, even if it's 100 questions they are so patient. They genuinely care and treat your pets as if they were their own. And I cannot say enough about Dr. Hiser. She is amazing. Even on her days off she would still call and check in on my dog. I am so appreciative of this place and the staff. It's a great feeling to be completely comfortable with putting your pets care in someone's else hands and trusting them to provide the best service."
    Taylor H. / August 25, 2018
  • "I have been seeing Dr. Evans for at least 20 years. Her manner, knowledge, staff and facility are exceptional. I am a health care provider myself and hold the care of my pets to the highest standards....and I have never had a second thought about the care or recommendations of Dr. Evans. I moved out of town 6 years ago....and drive 3 hours each way to see her."
    Kimberley W. / April 2, 2018
  • "Wouldn't trust my four-legged Kids to anyone else - they have guided us with all our dogs through the years. The entire staff is kind and patient with the animals (and their parents)."
    Karen K. / November 7, 2017

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles