What does a “hot spot” look like on a dog and what can I do to address it?

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Yes, the FamilyPet.com Veterinarian is IN! In each issue, Dr. Lisa Lippman, DVM, offers an explanation – and advice – to pet parents on perplexing pet queries. This month’s question:

What does a ‘hot spot’ look like on a dog and what can I do to address it?

Known medically as Pyotraumatic Dermatitis, this far-too-common skin lesion worsens when the site is bitten, licked or scratched by the affected dog. First, verify with your veterinarian that you dog does have a hot spot and that he does not have another type of dermatological issue.

Be aware that hot spots can be painful and without proper treatment, they can spread. For these reasons, I highly recommend you have your dog promptly examined by your veterinarian. Please always consult your veterinarian before using any homemade remedies because they can cause more harm to your pet’s skin and possibly, worsen the hot spot.

Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, here are the common steps to treat a hot spot:

  1. The affected area must be shaved to allow air to reach the site. I recommend your veterinarian performs the shaving as hot spots can be painful and you don’t want to risk being bit.
  2. Clean the site by using cool water and a mild skin cleanser safe for use on pets to clean the site.
  3. Apply a cool compress a few times a day with a fresh damp washcloth each time.
  4. Your veterinarian may prescribe oral antibiotics, topical medications and possibly, special shampoos. Be sure to comply with the amount and frequency of dosages prescribed.
  5. Finally, your dog may need to be fitted with a special medical recovery collar to prevent him from reaching the site as it heals.
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