Watching a dog or cat struggle with hot spots is frustrating. The poor dog or cat scratches, licks and is obviously very uncomfortable. Medications help, but hot spots can come back.

What are Hot Spots?

Hot spots look really ugly. You might notice your pet licking or scratching a red hairless area. This spot spreads fairly quickly, becoming redder and moist. Most often, hot spots appear on the head, chest or hip, but could be elsewhere. These areas look – and are – painful.

Technically, a hot spot is called acute moist dermatitis. Just about anything can cause it, but the most common causes include:

  • Allergies
  • Flea, mite or other insect bites
  • Matted, dirty coats, especially on pets with thick, long coats
  • Frequent ear or skin infections
  • An anal gland infection
  • Stress or boredom resulting in frequent chewing and licking

Treating Hot Spots

Treating the hot spot will help relieve the pet’s discomfort, but until the root cause is discovered, it’s likely that more hot spots, ear infections or other issues will reappear. A trip to the vet and/or home care could include:

  • Shaving the hair around the hot spot and keeping it clean
  • Antibiotics and painkillers
  • Flea treatment
  • Hypoallergenic food
  • Anitihistamines or corticosteroids
  • Dietary supplement with essential fatty acids

Finding the Cause

Allergies build up over time until the immune system reacts inappropriately. Something that was not a problem before, such as a long-time food, can suddenly cause an allergic reaction.

  • Food allergies are fairly common, so it’s possible that simply switching to a hypoallergenic food or natural diet can keep hot spots from coming back. This can also mean restricting the pet from “people” food or treats which could contain an allergen.
  • Preventing fleas with commercial products is usually the easiest and most effective, but there are natural flea repellents such as fresh-squeezed citrus juice (not the oil) or diatomaceous earth. However, when a pet has developed a flea allergy, all it takes is one bite to cause another allergic reaction or hot spot.
  • Allergy testing at the vet is similar to human allergy testing. Diet changes and flea treatments could be all that’s needed, so save money by trying that first.

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Figuring out the Cause of Hot Spots on Pets