All about Hot Spots on Dog's Skin

In hot and humid weather, dogs are more likely to get acute moist dermatitis, or pyotraumatic (pyo = pus) dermatitis – hot spots. The most common cause is the dog scratching, chewing and/or licking at an itchy spot until it abrades the skin so much there’s an open wound.

Causes can range from insect bites, allergies, clipper irritation, brush “burn”, or a coat left even slightly damp. Dogs that swim and are not thoroughly dried are good candidates for hot spots as well as other skin problems. Golden Retrievers and similar thick double coats seem to be the most prone to them but any dog can suffer from them.

Grooming may or may not be responsible but if a dog gets a hot spot after visiting your salon you may receive a call. By all means assure them that you did all in your power to prevent such a thing; flea shampoo or medicated as needed for skin issues, clean sharp blades, good brushing technique and appropriate brushes for the dog, and thorough drying. Warm hair can feel dryer than it is so allow a cool down period before running your hand against the grain and holding it on the skin to check dryness. Rinse shampoo thoroughly as any left can trigger itchiness.

What can you recommend to help the problem? If the problem is advanced, the dog should be seen by a veterinarian. If it is beginning, steps can be taken to prevent it worsening. First, the hair needs to be removed from the area to allow it to dry. An Elizabethan collar or inflatable collar may prevent the dog from reaching it or the area can be covered with a bandage or pet clothing. There are many hot spot sprays and lotions available. Remedy + Recovery Medicated Hot Spot Spray For Dogs contains lidocaine, a numbing agent. Some have a bitter taste to discourage chewing/licking. If you have nothing on hand to sell, there are home remedies that may help. Whether you recommend something for off label use is a personal decision. Witch hazel is mild and drying, green tea cooled and applied with a cotton ball is drying and antiseptic, corn starch or Gold Bond powder is drying and soothing.

A dog that is regularly groomed has less undercoat and is clean, making it less likely that they will get summer hotspots – a great reason for owners to have their pet groomed.


By Carol Visser, Journalist, Master Pet Groomer, Certified Dog Trainer, Pet Product Expert