A hot spot is a skin infection which we see commonly in dogs in Townsville. It starts as a small moist skin rash, which can rapidly spread. They are normally very itchy and can then become very sore.
Hotspots are also called superficial pyoderma’s, acute moist dermatitis or pyo traumatic dermatitis. They are mainly seen on the dog’s head, neck and rump.
Dogs of any breed can develop hot spots, but we see them more commonly in Rottweilers, Labradors and Golden retrievers.
Hot spots often start with the dog scratching or chewing at an area. The area becomes traumatised and then infection caused by bacteria sets in. The bacterial infection makes the lesion even more itchy, causing more scratching/chewing which in turn makes the hotspot worse. Hotspots can worsen quickly and what looks like a small 20 cent sized skin lesion one day can be enormous the next. If you believe your dog may be developing a hotspot, it should be seen sooner rather than later.
Some common causes are: moist wet coats, allergies, insect bites, ear infections (dogs scratching at side of face where ear is irritated) and sometimes underlying medical conditions. The warm humid weather we have in Townsville definitely plays a role in the development of the hot spots. Hot spots become a lot more prevalent in the summer months
Hot spots are diagnosed by the vet based on their distinctive appearance and your dog’s symptoms. Sometimes skin tests are done to confirm the infection and rule out other underlying causes. Hotspots are moist, inflamed lesions often with hair matted over the top.
Treatment involves clipping off the matted hair over the hot spot. This can sometimes be uncomfortable and the dog may require sedation or an anesthetic for this procedure. Often the hotspot is larger than initially thought once the hair is removed. The lesion is then gently cleaned with antiseptic and a topical antibiotic/anti-inflammatory cream is applied. The dog will usually go home with a course of antibiotics and cortisone. Washing the dog in antibacterial dog shampoo may also help
If your dog appears predisposed to developing hots spots further investigations may be required. This may include microscopic investigations and if not resolving, even a biopsy of the affected tissue.