With its warmer temperatures, rain, and humidity, summer is the perfect time for “Hot Spots” to develop. We often refer to an acute moist dermatitis or skin infection as a “Hot Spot”.

What do they look like?

Hot spots are red, moist, hot and irritated skin lesions that are typically found on a dog’s head, neck, chest or abdomen.  See pictures below.


Before Shaving & Cleaning


After Shaving & Cleaning


How does my dog get them?

They can start as a scratch, insect bite, irritation from a collar, poor grooming, etc. Underlying issues such as allergies, anal gland infections, and stress can also make dogs susceptible to skin problems. Opportunistic bacteria take advantage of the moist skin; they flourish in these conditions and multiply. A small patch of infected skin can quickly spread and become more severe. Dogs tend to lick, chew and scratch the affected areas, further irritating the skin. It can seem as if it developed overnight.


Which Dogs Are Prone to Developing Hot Spots?

  • Thick-coated, longhaired breeds
  • Dogs who are not groomed or bathed regularly and/or have matted, dirty coats
  • Dogs who live outdoors, are allowed to roam free, etc.
  • Dogs who have sensitive skin or underlying allergies

When Is it Time to See the Vet?

You should visit your vet for an exam when you first notice the beginning of an infection or if your pet begins to excessively scratch, lick and/or bite areas on his fur.

How Are Hot Spots Treated?

Determining and fixing the underlying cause is important. The best way to encourage healing is to keep it clean and dry, which may mean shaving all the hair in the affected area. Oral antibiotics, anti-itch medications (such as Benadryl or possibly steroids), as well as topical antibiotic spray are often necessary and require a visit to your vet. An E-collar to prevent the pet from licking or chewing at the area may be necessary. If the pet is scratching at the spot, socks or booties can be worn on the feet to prevent further damage.


How Can I Help Prevent Hot Spots?

  • Groom and/or bathe your dog as necessary
  • Inspect your pets skin on a regular basis for abnormalities
  • Keep your pet’s hair clipped short during warmer months
  • Control parasites using flea & tick preventives
  • Check collars & harnesses to make sure they are not too tight or rubbing


If you notice your pet excessively itching, chewing, or see the beginning of a “Hot Spot”, give Bemidji Veterinary Hospital a call at 751-2753 to schedule an appointment.