Any dog can develop hot spots, but they are more common in dogs with:
- thick coats,
- dirty and/or moist skin,
- fleas, allergies or an underperforming immune system.
Dogs with a dense undercoat (Bouvier-Bernese, Labrador, Newfoundland...) or matted hair are generally the most likely to develop a hot spot. This dense hair prevents good aeration and creates a humid and hot environment favorable for infection development. That's also why they are more frequent in summer than in winter.
The primary cause is always a skin irritation which can have numerous causes! It can be caused by an otitis. A vicious cycle of itch, scratching will start. This imbalance of the skin barrier's ecosystem leads to a local overgrowth of bacteria on the skin (surface pyoderma), and infection will then progress.
Once a dog has had one episode of hot spot, they are likely to be prone to subsequent episodes later in life. So, it's essential to find the primary cause and treat it accordingly.
The affected skin patch often appears suddenly as a moist, oozing, reddened area that is painful and itchy to the dog. You may see also sticked hair or hair loss, and you may notice a bad and characteristic odor.
A hot spot is always a local lesion whose size may vary. It usually has a circular shape, but after shaving you can see peripheral lesions. The hotspot can appear anywhere on the body, but they are often present behind the ears, on the cheek or on the hips.
The irritation will cause the dog to scratch, lick and chew at the lesion, which will worsen the condition. It is not uncommon to note that the lesion widen very quickly (within a few hours).