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What are Hotspots?

Mobile Vet Service - Golden Retriever - Hotspots

What are Hotspots?

by Ben J. Character, DVM

Hotspots are areas of severe skin infection.  Often, you will find that in the area of a hotspot, the hair is matted together. This is due to an oozing of serum from the inflamed skin.  Commonly occurring at the base of the tail, scratching and biting at the inflamed area leads to the infection.   In turn, because the infected skin is very itchy, this leads to an increase of scratching, biting and licking. Hotspots are very painful, and sometimes require anesthesia before the animal will allow them to be treated.

The hair covering the area must be clipped off to apply medication, and to allow air to penetrate and keep the area dry.  Any moisture will complicate the problem. The hotspot area will seem small initially, but once the clipping procedure has begun, it typically becomes apparent that a large area is involved.

Once the hair coat is removed, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic, and an anti-inflammatory agent is applied. Most cases also require an injection of an anti-inflammatory medication (generally cortisone) to provide long term relief.  Antibiotics are then used to treat the infection.

A flea infestation is the most common reason for a hotspot to develop.  Therefore, a regular flea prevention/treatment plan is recommended.  Ideally, the product should kill the fleas, since it is the bite and deposition of flea saliva that causes the problem.