Causes of Canine Hot Spots
“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 or viral skin disorders. Occasionally, there is a history of trauma, cancer (neoplasia), osteoarthritis or other joint disease at the site of the licking. If no organic cause can be identified, the dog may be suffering from some underlying behavioral disorder attributable to obsessive-compulsive disease, separation anxiety, boredom or something else. Regardless of the actual cause of hot spots, the primary inciting factor is usually associated with itchiness (pruritis) and/or pain, which in turn cause the animal to lick and chew incessantly at the affected area. It is this chronic, self-destructive conduct that triggers the deep inflammatory response and eventually leads to the skin ulcerations and erosions that are the hallmarks of hot spots.
Preventing Hot Spots
Good grooming and hygiene, high-quality nutrition, regular exercise and lots of love go a long way toward keeping companion dogs happy, healthy and free from damaging behavioral or other self-inflicted skin problems, such as hot spots. The underlying medical and behavioral reasons for hot spots must be identified and addressed before the condition has a chance of being resolved. Owners need to be dedicated, patient and exceptionally kind to their dogs in order to keep them free from this bothersome medical condition. Fortunately, hot spots can frequently be prevented or at least treated before they become severe.