How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent Pet Hot Spots

When your pet’s skin feels on fire from itching, it may claw, lick, and chew excessively, causing a hot spot. Learn more about these excruciatingly painful lesions to aid your furry friend in avoiding itching.

What are pet hot spots?

Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis, are sores that develop on the epidermis of an animal. Often appearing overnight, these lesions can quickly become an oozing, excruciatingly painful disaster for your pet.

Why do canines develop hot spots?

Environmental, flea, or food allergies typically cause skin inflammation that results in hot patches. However, anything that prompts your pet to lick, gnaw, or scratch an area to the point of exposing raw skin may be to blame.

Causes of hot areas include:

  • Ear infections
  • Skin infections
  • Matted fur
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Anal gland issues

How do veterinarians treat hot spots?

It would be best if you acted swiftly when treating your pet’s hot spots to prevent a severe skin infection. As soon as you detect a small area of inflammation, you must place an Elizabethan collar (also known as an e-collar) on your pet to prevent them from further irritating the skin.

As hot spots can be extremely painful to contact, we may administer sedation with a potent analgesic when your pet arrives at our hospital for treatment. Once your companion is comfortable, we will trim away matted fur to allow air to reach the area. Wet, matted fur is a breeding ground for infection and must be removed to allow the sore to heal.

We will delicately clean the area with an antiseptic rinse to remove fur and debris and then apply topical medications to the clean, dry skin to alleviate the itching and treat the infection. We may recommend allergy treatment, anal gland expression, ear medication, regular hygiene, or other therapies, depending on the underlying cause of the hot spot.

You should act immediately if you observe an irritated, inflamed area on your pet’s epidermis. Call our office to schedule an appointment before a minor irritation develops into a large, excruciating sore.