Hot Spots (Acral Lick Dermatitis)
Definition of Hot Spots
Hot spots are firm, thickened, circular, raised, warm, hairless and often ulcerated skin lesions that usually are caused by repetitive licking and chewing. Also called lick granulomas, acral lick dermatitis or acute moist dermatitis, these sores are painful and can become infected and smelly. They most commonly develop on the top of a dog’s wrist joint or on top of one of its front paws. Hot spots can also occur on the lower hind legs, paws and under the ear flaps, especially in large breeds with floppy ears. Affected dogs typically have some sort of allergic or other underlying skin condition that starts the itch-lick-chew cycle. They become fixated on the itchy area and bother it compulsively until a wound develops. Hot spots can show up suddenly and worsen rapidly.
“Hot spots” can be caused by a number of different things. Dogs with heavy coats often develop hot spots just before they shed, when their damp, dead hair becomes tangled up and matted, which causes irritation and itchiness. Other things that can cause or contribute to hot spots include food allergies (hypersensitivities to dietary ingredients), environmental allergies, infestation by fleas, mites, ticks or other external parasites, fungal infection, impacted anal glands, neglected grooming and bacterial
Hot spots are very painful for the dogs that are suffering from them. They usually start with some sort of allergic or hypersensitivity reaction or joint disorder that is irritating and itchy. This, in turn, causes the dog to lick and chew incessantly at the affected area, which most typically is on the top side of the lower legs and/or on the paws; the front legs and feet are the most common sites of hot
Fortunately, hot spots - also known as lick granulomas, acral lick dermatitis or acute moist dermatitis - are not especially difficult to diagnose. The raised, thickened, red and often weeping wounds that are the classic signs of hot spots are usually quite easy for owners and veterinarians to see, even on long-haired breeds. However, it often is quite difficult to identify, treat and successfully resolve the underlying cause of the dog’s condition.Most veterinarians are easily
Both the medical and behavioral components of hot spots must be addressed for treatment to be entirely successful. The goals of treating hot spots are to eliminate inflammation and itchiness, resolve any primary or secondary bacterial, viral or fungal infections, eliminate pain and correct the dog’s self-destructive licking and chewing behaviors. In most cases, the dog will need to be physically restrained (such as with an Elizabethan or “lamp shade” collar) to prevent it from