Hotspots (not the wireless kind!) are localized areas of pyodermatitis that can occur in any furred animal, but happen most frequently in dogs. Pyodermatitis is a bacterial infection and inflammation of the skin. Pyo refers to the pus produced by bacteria in an infection, and dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. Hotspots on dogs usually look like a roundish area of red, hairless, infected skin.
Hotspots are very itchy and are often triggered by some form of trauma that causes a scratch or an abrasion. Self-trauma in the form of scratching, licking or biting is the most likely source. Thus for the pet to be irritated enough to scratch, bite or lick, there must be an underlying cause such as fleas, a skin allergy or mites. Hotspots occur more frequently in summer, as these underlying causes are more prevalent in this season, and also because warmth combined with moisture on the skin surface is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Thick coated breeds such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies tend to suffer from hotspots more than thinner haired breeds, as the thick coat traps heat and moisture. Hotspots can also appear in areas where bandages are placed due to rubbing of the bandage on skin or the pet's attempts to lick or chew the bandage.
Treatment for hotspots on dogs includes first shaving and cleaning the area with an anti-bacterial solution. For superficial infections, a cream containing an antibiotic with or without a steroid component may be prescribed. In cases of deeper infections, systemic antibiotics and possibly steroids may be required. Most hotspots clear in 1-2 weeks with the correct treatment. If an underlying cause is identified, this should also be treated to prevent self-trauma. Thick coated breeds should be dried well after baths or swims to try and prevent moisture build up. All dogs should be on regular, effective flea control, and any frequent scratching, licking or biting of an area should be addressed as soon as possible. In severe cases of recurring hotspots where the underlying cause cannot be identified, a medicated shampoo may be prescribed for long term use.
Did your dog ever have hotspots? How did you treat it? Share with us in the comment section!