A hot spot is a warm, painful, swollen patch of skin 1 to 4 inches (2.5 to 10
cm) across that exudes pus and gives off a foul odor. Hair in the area is lost
rapidly. The infection progresses when the dog licks and chews the site. These
circular patches appear suddenly and enlarge quickly, often within a matter of
Hot spots can occur anywhere on the body, often in more than one spot. One
very typical location is under the ear flaps in large breeds with heavy, hairy
ears, such as Newfoundlands and Golden Retrievers. Hot spots occur most often
in breeds with heavy coats, and tend to appear just before shedding, when moist, dead hair is trapped next to the
skin. Fleas, mites, and other skin parasites, skin
allergies, irritant skin diseases, ear and anal gland infections,
and neglected grooming are other factors that can initiate the
Treatment: Hot spots are extremely painful. The dog usually will need to be
sedated or anesthetized for the initial treatment. Your veterinarian will clip
away hair to expose the hot spot, then gently cleanse the skin with a dilute
povidone-iodine shampoo (Betadine) or a chlorhexidine shampoo (Nolvasan) and allow the skin to
dry. An antibiotic steroid cream or powder (Panolog or Neocort) is then applied
twice a day for 10 to 14 days. Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed. Predisposing skin
problems must be treated as well.
Your veterinarian may also prescribe a short course of oral corticosteroids
to control severe itching. Prevent the dog from
traumatizing the area by using an Elizabethan collar or a BiteNot collar.
In hot, humid weather, always be sure to dry your heavy-coated dog
thoroughly after bathing her and after she
swims. Otherwise, the conditions are perfect for a hot spot to develop.