Hot spots are a common dermatologic condition of dogs. Hot spots are the result of a superficial skin infection – in the early stages the skin will turn red, become moist and itchy. Often hair loss will occur as a result of chewing and infection. Frequently this area will be painful to the touch. As time progresses a dried scab or crust will form.

The exact cause of a hot spot can be anything that results in itch or irritation to the skin causing a dog to chew or lick at an area. Possible causes can include: allergies, insect bites, scrapes, clipper burn from grooming, injuries, matted fur, or moisture accumulation in skin folds.

Diagnosis is often made by physical exam and cytology (microscopic evaluation of the discharge on the skin). The cytology helps determine if the area is infected with bacteria, yeast or both. If bacteria are detected, culture and sensitivity testing may be used to choose the most appropriate antibiotic to treat the infection.

Treatment may involve one or more of the following:

  • Clipping the hair away from the affected area
  • Cleansing the skin with antibacterial shampoos
  • Topical anti-inflammatories or antibiotics
  • Oral antibiotics or antifungals
  • Oral medications to reduce inflammation or itch
  • Prevention of licking with E-collar or medical pet shirt

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