Hot Spots in Dogs: Harvey’s Acute Skin Infection

Dogs usually develop hot spots as a result of skin trauma whether from scratching an itchy spot or running through bushes and brambles.

As the skin integrity gets compromised, it allows local bacteria to overwhelm the area. Bacterial infections can get quite bad fast.

Hot Spots in Dogs: Harvey's Acute Skin Infection

Harvey’s story

Harvey is an energetic Pug. He is full of life and loves to play chase in the garden with his housemate. The two dogs spend a lot of time chasing each other through bushes and brambles.

This time, when Harvey came in from their outdoor playtime, his mom noticed a wet spot on Harvey’s neck. Upon closer inspection, there was nothing visible on the skin other than a tiny prick. Did Harvey get bit by a bug or got a small wound from a run-in with a branch?

The wound looked innocent and it didn’t bother Harvey at all. Tiny traumas like that can quickly heal on their own; except when they don’t.

Unhappy skin

By next morning, though, the tiny red spot on Harvey’s skin turned into a large blotch. It was oozing fluid and it was now bothering Harvey. He kept trying to scratch it. Harvey’s mom decided to see a veterinarian.

At the veterinarian

It took all but a glance for the veterinarian to recognize what was happening with Harvey’s skin—he developed a hot spot.

Whether it did start as a bug bite or a small graze, the problem grew quickly just overnight. The natural bacteria on Harvey’s skin invaded the damaged area, quickly multiplying, and producing wastes that further irritated the skin.

The skin then gets both itchy and painful and as Harvey was trying to scratch it, he kept making things worse. Hot spots can blow up in scary proportions fast.

The treatment

There are measures owners can take at home to treat hot spots. But it’s important to keep in mind how quickly a small problem can become a large one—many dogs might need antibiotic treatment to get things under control. Such a sore can double in size every day.

The first step is to trim the fur around the sore to allow the area cool and dry out. This might be easier said than done, particularly if the sore is large and painful—some dogs even need to be sedated.

With the fur trimmed, the veterinarian cleaned the area with warm water and gentle antiseptic. Then he treated Harvey’s sore with an antibiotic, soothing ointment as well as Harvey came home with antibiotics.

Harvey responded to the treatment quickly and two days later his skin looked almost normal.


If you catch a brewing hot spot early, you might get away with treating it at home. But don’t take chances because bacterial infections are like a moving train that can hit with full force fast. And don’t forget that large hot spots can be extremely painful.

Source story:
A Red Blotch Appeared on the Back of Harvey’s Neck

Related articles:
A Primer On Hot Spots
Acute Moist Dermatitis in Dogs: Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog—Hot Spots

Further reading:
Pyotraumatic dermatitis (acute moist dermatitis, hot spot)
First Aid for Hot Spots in Dogs

Categories: ConditionsDog health advocacyHot spotsReal-life StoriesSkin issues

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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