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15 May

Hotspots in dogs

author image Edeline Bourrier Edeline Bourrier
Hotspots in dogs image

Hotspots, or acute moist dermatitis, is a skin condition affecting dogs of all breeds and ages. They can develop anywhere on the dog's body, most often on the head, neck and hips in the shape of tender, red, and oozing sores. We will focus on the causes, symptoms, and treatments of hotspots in dogs.

1. What causes hotspots in dogs?

Allergies, parasites, and infections are common causes of hotspots. In addition, dogs with thick coats or undercoats, especially if they live in a hot and humid environment are at a higher risk of developing hotspots.  Constant licking or scratching of an area can further exacerbate the issue, leading to more inflammation, irritation and higher risks of skin bacterial infections. For these reasons, dogs with compulsive licking or scratching behaviours are at higher risk. 

2. What are the symptoms of hotspots in dogs?

The symptoms of hotspots in dogs can be quite noticeable and include:

  • Intense itching and scratching
  • Redness and swelling of the skin
  • Oozing and/or crusting of the affected area
  • A foul odour coming from the sores
  • A hot, painful, and tender spot on the skin

Hotspots can quickly become larger and more painful if left untreated. Therefore, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog.

The affected area can be very tender, so be mindful when petting a dog suffering from hotspots. 

Useful reading:

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3. What are the treatments of hotspots in dogs ?

At the vets

Your vet will usually prescribe a combination of topical creams and oral medication including:

  • Antibiotic cream and medication to get rid of the infection
  • Steroids to reduce inflammation and soothe the pain
  • Antihistamines if the cause is allergens.

In addition, your vet may also shave the surrounding area to allow it to breathe and heal. It also makes it easier for you to keep it clean at home.

At home

There is quite a lot you can do at home, from skin-supporting supplements to bathing and applying soothing cream:

  • Bathing the area regularly with an antiseptic solution such as chlorhexidine will to prevent bacterial growth. Be mindful not to overdo it as it may affect the natural balance of your dog’s skin!
  • Applying a topical medication or cream to relieve itching and support healing
  • Using an Elizabethan collar can help to prevent your dog from licking the area. If the sore is located on his neck, be careful of where the collar sits to avoid exacerbating it. 

4. How can I prevent hotspots?

Here are a few tips on how to help avoid hotspots: 

  • Grooming regularly and bathing, when necessary, will help promote skin cell renewal, remove debris and dead hair to support healthy skin
  • Treating your dog and his environment against fleas is important; There are many natural and veterinary products available on the market, from garlic and diatomaceous earth to medication and spot-on treatments. 
  • Supporting your dog’s immune system by looking after his digestive health and adding an immune booster supplement can help keep the skin’s barrier against infections healthy.


Hotspots can make your dog very uncomfortable in his own skin. If you notice any signs of hotspots in your dog, seek advice from your vet to prevent complications. Prevention is often better than cure so if your dog suffers from allergies, poor coat condition, or compulsive licking, keep a closer eye on his skin. 

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