Dogs are part of the family, and when they look uncomfortable or irritated, it is our job to find the cause and treat it. Hot spots on their paws are a common cause of such discomfort.

When a dog suffers from a hot spot, you will notice them itching more than usual. Moist red spots will also become visible on their skin. This condition is very painful and can even leave bald spots on their skin.


What are Hot Spots?

Dog Hot Spot

Hot Spots, a skin disorder commonly seen in dogs during the summer months, are highly contagious and should be treated as soon as possible. Not only are these inflamed, red patches extremely unsightly, but they are also painful and can cause discomfort to your four-legged friend. Hence, if your dog is suffering from Hot Spots, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

The technical term used for the hotspot is acute moist dermatitis. These painful spots appear in those areas where the skin has a bacterial infection or inflammation. At first, they look the same as small red spots from an insect bite.

Over time, they begin to grow and spread throughout the body. In severe cases, they can even ooze. They can appear anywhere but occur most often on the paws, limbs, head, and hips.


What Causes a Dog to Get Hot Spots?

There are several reasons that cause hot spots or skin disorders in dogs. The most common reasons found are the following.


The hot spot can be a result of an allergic reaction. This can be triggered by a food or environmental reaction. When a dog has an allergic reaction they will simply start to itch.

Ear Infections

Sometimes an ear infection can cause a hot spot. Fungal or bacterial infections in the ear canal can be so irritating that your dog will start to scratch his ears and create hot spots. Hot spots are usually seen behind the ear, on the ear flap, and on the neck.

Insect Bite

Hot spots also occur as a result of an insect bite reaction. Insects that sting and can cause allergic reactions are mites, fleas, bees, caterpillars, lice, wasps, mosquitoes, and ants.

Poor Grooming

Poor dog grooming can also be a factor. If the dog’s fur remains matted, your dog will start to bite the tangle and cause a wound as a result.

Tangled fur prevents air from reaching the skin, and the skin remains moist after a dog swims. That moist skin creates a perfect environment for hot spots.

Orthopedic Issues

Dogs who suffer from arthritis or back problems will usually lie on one side for a longer period of time. When a dog lies on its side for a long time, abrasions begin to appear at pressure points such as hocks, hips, and places where there is less muscle padding.

This condition is more common in older dogs because they have lost their muscle mass. When dogs feel pain, they will start licking, and hot spots can form. Dogs lick or chew on the pain point, similar to how people rub their knee to relieve pain.

Inflammation of the Anal Glands

If the anal gland becomes infected, it will result in a painful condition for a dog. When they feel pain or irritation, they begin to lick the area around the rectum resulting in hot spots on or under the tail.


Some dogs develop bad habits just like humans and begin to chew and lick areas that are easily accessible to them. Normally, when a dog is lying down, their paws are placed under the face, so they start licking them, and hot spots are formed.


Symptoms of Hot Spots


Common symptoms that appear in hot spots are redness, swelling, itching, pain, and drainage. Hot spots often have a bad smell. If the dog continually scratches or licks the infected area, hair loss, cysts, and further irritation will occur.



To treat a hot spot, you must first eliminate the bacterial or fungal infection. This will get rid of the itchiness and pain. Before starting any treatment, the hair around the hot spot needs to be trimmed. This allows the area to be easily cleaned, and it also aids in the application of topical gels.

Topical treatment is done with ointments, creams, and sprays to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. Your vet can prescribe a course of antibiotics for three to four weeks. Some vets administer a short course of corticosteroids to relieve pain and itching.

How to Prevent Hotspots

There are few things that can be used to protect your dog from hot spots.

    • Always pay close attention to your dog’s behavior, and if you see any signs of stress or irritation, take your dog to the vet.
    • If your dog likes to swim, be sure to dry his coat when he returns. If moisture remains on the dog’s coat, it can result in a hot spot infection.
    • Use tick, flea, and lice preventative medications to keep your dog pest free.
    • Take your dog for a walk every day, so he doesn’t get bored or fidgety.
    • If your dog is allergic to any food or inhalant, keep him away from them, and if you notice any allergic reaction, consult your veterinarian immediately.
    • Always pay close attention to your dog’s behavior, and if you see any signs of stress or irritation, take your dog to the vet.



An easy way to prevent hot spots is to closely monitor your dog, and if you see any changes in the coat, fur, or any unusual markings, take a closer look and find out why. You can’t always protect your dog from infection, but you can ease his pain by treating the hot spot early.



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