Hot spots

Meet Loki, an 8-month-old Golden Retriever belonging to one of the Pukekohe vets Nikki who came into the clinic due to a hotspot on his neck.

This presented as a moist wound on his neck (image 1) with discharge over his fur. This was likely caused by swimming with his collar on and then the wet collar rubbing on his neck.

The raw skin was very tender and it was too painful for him to allow us to clip while he was awake so we needed to sedate Loki to start sorting the hotspot out. After clipping the fur away (image 2) the large size of the infected area was clear to see.

This was cleaned and he was put on a combination of both topical ointment and oral medication. He was also given an inflatable collar so that he couldn’t scratch at the wound (image 3). After 3 days of treatment (image 4) the wound was no longer looking moist but was still inflamed but after 5 days (image 5) it was pretty much healed.

Loki's hot spots

What is a hot spot?

Canine hot spots, also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis or acute moist dermatitis, are red, inflamed skin lesions that appear quickly, ooze, and may contain pus. Hot spots can be found anywhere on a dog’s body, but the most common sites are the head, legs, and hips. They tend to be more common in summer when the humidity is higher, which also coincides with allergy season.

Hot spots are usually caused by self-trauma when a dog scratches an itch so vigorously that it creates a wound that then gets invaded by normal skin bacteria. Many things can cause the initial itch in dogs including:

  • Allergies - including food allergies or inhalant allergies that cause itching.
  • Reactions to insect bites from fleas, mites, ticks, or other small insects (e.g., bees, wasps, lice, spiders or mosquitoes).
  • Ear infections. Bacteria or yeast in the ear canal can be so irritating that the dog scratches at his ear, creating hot spots on the ear flap, behind the ear, or on the neck.
  • Excess moisture in the dog’s coat after swimming or bathing.

Treatment includes:

  • Trimming the area around the hot spot. This may require sedation if the dog is too sore to allow us to do this while they are awake.
  • Cleaning the skin with a mild antiseptic.
  • Prescribed medications can include topical ointments to help heal the hot spot and, depending on the case, the vet might recommend antibiotics to help fight the infection or steroids for combating inflammation.
  • A dog cone can also be applied to stop them from scratching or licking the hot spots.

Most dog hot spots will begin to disappear in a few days after the start of the treatment however some can take up to 3-4 weeks to fully heal.


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