A puppy gets their paw wrapped in bandages by their vet, to treat their hot spot.

Everything You Need to Know About Hot Spots on Dogs

One day your dog has an itch and before you know it that itchy spot turns into an open sore. Hot spots on dogs, also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis or acute moist dermatitis, are red, inflamed skin lesions. These sores on your dog’s skin develop quickly, tending to ooze and hold pus. 

Hot spots on dogs are most commonly found on the head, hips, and legs, but they can be anywhere on the body. The sores are painful and smelly and often itchy, causing your dog to scratch and worsen them. 

What Causes Hot Spots on Dogs?

Hot spots usually develop when a dog scratches an itch a little too thoroughly. While the open wound is self-inflicted, the underlying causes for the itchiness are not. There are a wide array of things that can cause a dog to scratch itself raw.

  • Allergies- both environmental and food allergies can cause itching
  • Insect bites- bites from fleas, mites, and other insects 
  • Ear Infections- an infection in the ear canal can cause itching so bad the dog creates a hot spot on or around the ear
  • Pyoderma- Skin infections caused by bacteria or yeast can incite itching
  • Boredom- a bored dog develops bad habits. Dogs lick areas like their feet and forelegs until they are raw. 
  • Poor grooming- dogs bite at tangled, ungroomed hair, opening wounds under the knots. 
  • Anal gland inflammation- Anal glands that are infected or impacted can cause pain and annoyance for a dog. They will lick or bite at the area, causing a hot spot. 
  • Orthopedic problems- Arthritis and other back problems cause a dog to lie down much more than normal, creating abrasions on the pressure points.  

How to Treat Hot Spots on Dogs

To make a hot spot go away, you have to treat both the wound and the initial cause of itching. First, you have to distract your dog to stop worrying at the spot. This is usually accomplished with a cone or covering to keep the dog from accessing the spot and some cream to heal the open wound. 

Once you have stopped the scratching, you need to address the root cause. It can be a little difficult to figure out what is causing the itching. If you need to, you can speak to your vet to help diagnose the issue. Once you know, it’s a simple matter of matching the right treatment to the condition. An allergy needs an antihistamine, an ear infection needs treatment, and poor grooming needs to be remedied. Solve the root problem and you can prevent more scratching in the future. 

What is a Hot Spot on a Dog: Ask a Professional

When you are at a loss about what to do for your dog, it’s time to ask a professional. All Get Joy customers get free, 24/7 access to telehealth services. Someone is available at all times to answer your questions and help you make the best decisions for your dog. Whether you are dealing with a hot spot, behavioral issues, or any other questions, Get Joy is here to help. Contact us today to learn more. 


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