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How to Recognize Hot Spots on Your Dog

A hot spot is a small to large area of your dog’s skin that’s red, raw, and oozing serum (fluid that seeps from the blood). Hot spots occur most often in dogs with allergies and commonly appear on the face, neck, flank, and around the tail. The sores can pop up quickly and can spread to involve an area several inches in diameter.

No one really knows how a hot spot gets started, but it probably starts with a break in the skin, either from scratching or from moisture. Bacteria that live peacefully on intact skin enter and reproduce, causing irritation and inflammation. Fleas can also be the culprit, causing your pet to lick excessively to control the biting and itching.

To heal, a hot spot needs to be kept as dry and clean as possible. You can treat a small hot spot by soaking it with an astringent, such as tannic acid (just place a wet tea bag on the hot spot). This helps to form a scab over the affected area. If a large area of skin is affected, visit the vet. He will shave the hair over the affected area to promote air circulation and then treat the affected skin with an astringent and an antibiotic.

Hot spots can become infected, which requires more aggressive treatment. Don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you observe any open skin or irritation on your dog.

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