Hot Spots on Dogs' Paws

Hot spots on dogs are medical conditions known as pyotraumatic dermatitis. Hot spots are extremely common in dogs, occurring with no breed predilection but rather with a predilection to the canine species itself. While hot spots seem to pop up more routinely during hot weather in the summer season, they can really appear at any time. Because hot spots are actually generalized infections of the skin, they require care and treatment, so it is important for dog owners to be aware of the signs as well as how to treat them.

Cause of Hot Spots

The term “pyotraumatic pus” actually refers to a pus-like infection or inflammation of the skin which is self-inflicted. Hot spots are actually caused by a dog’s excessive licking, biting and scratching of a particular area, eventually leading to infection and swelling. Because the true cause of hot spots is caused by extreme licking, it is important to look at the factors that could cause such a behavior.

Dog owners should always be on the look out for:

All of these issues may draw attention to a certain part of the body and incite the licking behavior. In some cases, however, there is no medical reason for the onset of hot spots. Some dogs project this behavior out of pure boredom or psychological stress, such as when boarded in a kennel.

Signs and Symptoms of Dog Hot Spots

All dog owners should be aware of the signs of hot spots so that the appropriate medical treatment can be sought. Because infections of the skin can either be simply at the skin level or run deep within the tissues, there is the possibility that infection from hot spots can spread. Any of the following signs may be indicative of hot spots on dogs:

  • Areas of redness and swelling
  • Areas of pus drainage
  • Excessive licking in a certain area
  • Hair loss on the body

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis is often easily made just by reviewing the dog’s symptoms. The cause of the licking behavior, however, is not so easily identified. If a dog is on medication, it may warrant concerns for an allergic reaction, which should be explored further by a veterinarian. The veterinarian will also carefully examine the area to determine if there are any bites or if a flea infestation is present. If no medical reason can be given for the cause of the hot spots, the veterinarian will be likely to presume that there is a depressive, agitated, psychological condition present.

In order to treat the infected spot, dog owners will need to apply warm soapy water to cleanse the affected area. Hydrocortisone creams may be applied to the area to help alleviate the itching and prevent licking. Depending upon the severity of the infection, oral antibiotics may be ordered to help clear the infection.