There are the good kinds of hot spots—the kind where you can get full-speed wifi for free—and then there are the bad kind of hot spots, like the ones that can plague dogs and cause them significant discomfort. Hot spots on dogs refer to skin irritations or areas of the skin that are inflamed or infected. As you can imagine, these sorts of lesions and skin issues are quite uncomfortable for dogs, leading to lots of itching and scratching.

To keep your dog itch-free and safe from hot spots, you’ll need to know why hot spots occur, what symptoms they cause, and how to treat them. Luckily, we’ve got the answers to all those questions and more! Read on to learn more about hot spots and ways you can help protect your pet from this common condition.

Hot Spot Causes

Unfortunately, there is no single cause of dog hot spots. Anything that can irritate your dog’s skin can potentially cause a hot spot to develop. Some typical triggers of hot spots are allergies, fleas, mites, ticks, an underlying skin condition or skin wound.  All of these issues can lead to a bacterial infection which is when the hot spot symptoms develop.

Symptoms To Watch For

The most obvious sign a dog is suffering from hot spots, also referred to as acute moist dermatitis or superficial canine pyoderma, is visibly inflamed skin or sores. Hot spots usually develop rapidly and symptoms go from bad to worse in no time at all. Hot spots are commonly marked by:

  • Red, highly inflamed areas of the skin
  • Frequent itching and scratching
  • Oozing sores
  • Moist, matted fur
  • Dry and crusty patches of skin
  • Hair loss

Treatment Plan

Treatment for hot spots involves a multi-method approach. Due to the intensity of hot spots and the quick progression of the condition, a visit to your local animal hospital is absolutely necessary to treat the condition on all fronts. First and foremost, treatment centers around easing your dog’s pain and ensuring its comfort. Your veterinarian will prescribe a course of antibiotics and topical medication to relieve the pain and inflammation. The infected area will also need to be cleaned thoroughly and carefully. Your dog’s fur will need to be clipped and shaved so that there is easy access to the skin and to prevent further irritation from occurring. Your veterinarian may recommend a topical antiseptic or water-based solution to clean the affected area. In some cases, a plastic cone or collar may be needed to prevent a dog from additional scratching and licking, which would only hinder the healing process. Last, but not least,  your vet will want to identify the root cause of the hot spots. Tests may be needed to determine if the underlying cause is related to pet allergies or some other environmental factor.


The most important thing you can do to prevent your dog from developing hot spots is to practice good grooming habits, make sure the dog’s living environment is as clean and hygienic as possible, and carefully examine your dog for hot spots if you notice an increased level of licking or scratching. If ever in doubt, be sure to take your dog to a certified animal hospital for further inspection.

No dog deserves to suffer from hot spots. Talk to our experts at Hillside Animal Hospital for more hot spots recommendations and prevention tips!