Hot Spot, Canine

(Self-inflicted acute moist dermatitis)
By Dr. Karen Burgess

A hot spot is an area of self-trauma typically secondary to a local area of irritation that a pet then excessively chews or scratches. The typical appearance is a red, moist lesion that may be hairless of have the appearance of matted wet fur. These lesions are typically acute in nature with owners reporting that they were not present even hours earlier. Common causes include flea bite allergy, inhalational or food allergies, and ear infections.

Treatment for hot spots involves treating the wound and any subsequent infection, relieving discomfort, and if possible identifying the underlying cause. Because these wounds are often painful, sedation or injectable pain medication may be required. The area is then shaved to remove all fur and cleaned to remove debris over the affected area and to allow better airflow for healing. Medical treatment may involve topical sprays, antibiotics, and pain medication. An Elizabethean collar is often necessary to prevent further self-trauma. Additional testing may be necessary to better determine contributing factors to the hot spot.