A ‘hot spot’ (also known as pyotraumatic or moist dermatitis) is a common condition whereby an area of skin has become inflamed and infected.
Any dog can develop hot spots, but they are more common in dogs with:
- other skin conditions such as fleas, allergies or hyperadrenocorticism
- dirty and/or wet skin or fur
- fleas, allergies or an underperforming immune system.
Dogs with a dense undercoat (e.g. Golden Retriever, Labrador) 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 favourable 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 triggers!
It can be caused by an ear infection.
A vicious cycle of cratching will start. The damage to the skin leads to a local overgrowth of bacteria on the skin (surface pyoderma), and infection will then progress.
Once a dog has had one hot spot, they are likely to be prone to subsequent episodes so, it's essential to find the 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 hair loss, and you may notice a bad and characteristic smell.
The irritation will cause the dog to scratch, lick and chew at the sight which will worsen the condition.
It is not uncommon to see the hotspot spread very quickly. (within a few hours).