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Hot Spots in dogs and cats… Cause, Treatments and Potential Costs!

One of the most frustrating and heart-breaking conditions a dog or cat can suffer is having a “hot spot.” This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss exactly what a “hot spot” is, as well as review some standard treatment options that you may want to explore to help alleviate your pet’s discomfort.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Hot Spot Defined

Hot Spots (technically known as Pyrotraumatic Dermatitis or Acute Moist Dermatitis) are itchy, irritated, often red and weeping sores that appear in patches on your dog or cat’s skin – leaving your pet with no option but to scratch. This scratching then leads to the “patches” of skin that we’re all used to, which can then increase in size, causing a vicious cycle that never seems to end. The worst part is that scratching doesn’t seem to take away the itch, much like a human having Chicken Pox. It makes matters worse, meaning this seemingly innocent condition can get bad quickly.

What causes hotspots?

Hot Spots are usually initially caused by some outside stimulus, such as a chemical ingredient you are using in the home that they are allergic to, or maybe a pollen allergy or a dust allergy; it might even be caused by warm weather and a heavy fur coat. It can also result from other related diseases, such as anal vasculitis or demodicosis, or even the development of food allergies. Allergic reactions to insect bites and flea bite allergies are further known causes.

Whatever the initial trigger…

The skin produces cells that usually fight off the itchiness, causing the area to dry. The dog scratches until it punctures the skin. The skin picks up a bacterial infection. These infections or small lesions are known by two different names: either Pyoderma or Folliculitis – and they are the source of most of your pet’s discomfort.

These legions commonly spread their itchy infection to damp, warm areas of your dog’s body like a human might catch Thrush. Thus continuing a never-ending cycle of scratching and bleeding that can only be broken with veterinary intervention.

These horrid patches…

The weeping skin often quickly becomes hairless as the dog chews away the hair… a sight to tug on anyone’s heartstrings. So, while this might sound like ‘only a skin condition,’ you should beware. This is a terrible disease whose progression is maddening.

Commonly Affected Breeds

Although all dogs are at risk from this skin condition, the most commonly affected breeds are those with thick coats and a predisposition towards skin allergies. Purebred dogs are more likely to catch it than mongrels since many pure species have allergies down to inherent DNA.

Treatment Options

Your veterinary surgeon will most likely undergo a course of antibiotics as treatment for this skin condition. Anti-inflammatory medications may be used, and you can get a topical cream to aid with recovery of the affected area. However, this problem will likely return repeatedly until you find and fix the underlying cause. That means you and your vet need to find out what is causing the initial itching. If all else fails, this may mean sending your pet for expensive allergen testing. The usual method is to rule out causes one at a time and see what works. As you can imagine, this is a slow and horrendously painful time for your pet, so we would always advise that you save them the pain and have the tests done.

Homeopathic medications are also…

It is commonly recommended for this skin condition. Tea Tree Oil will help disinfect and clean the area, while Apple Cider Vinegar should help fight off the harmful bacteria causing the infection. These can be used as temporary relief measures or to accompany your vet’s oral treatments. We, however, would not recommend using them in conjunction with topical creams.

In extreme cases…

Your vet may also recommend performing a skin biopsy. It is highly likely that they will first perform a skin scrape (to test for mites) and then run a series of allergy tests if you cannot figure out what is causing it. If you are still in the dark after all of this, a skin biopsy may be completed to get to the bottom of this matter.

Which brings us to…

We want to remind folks that we at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. If you feel your pet may suffer from a “hot spot” (or any other health issue), you will want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!


An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs! This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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