Dr. K's Case of the Month: Hot Dog

By Dr. Heather Kovac

The Patient 

Molly is a 4 year old female yellow Labrador retriever mix who presented for a skin lesion on the side of her neck.

The Case

The owners reported that she had been very itchy in that location and the lesion just popped up over the last 24 hours. She did not seem itchy anywhere else on her body. On examination, she had a circular area of abnormal skin about the size of the palm on my hand on the right side of her neck near the collar region. The fur over the top was sticky with a greenish yellow discharge. This is the classic presentation for a "hot spot" which is an acute moist dermatitis, or skin infection, that comes on suddenly. We see these very commonly during the warmer months here in San Diego. A hot spot starts as a focal area of intense itch, typically due to an insect bite or other topical irritant. Then the dog will scratch and chew at the site intensely and incessantly until they cause a skin infection. Most of the damage to the skin is self inflicted. These can happen in a matter of a few hours.

The Treatment Plan

Treatment entails shaving and cleaning the lesion to remove all discharge and hair from the area. There is typically a central area of yellow scabbing with surrounding redness/rash. We also use a cold LASER treatment over the lesion to help speed healing and decrease inflammation. The dog needs to be on an oral antibiotic, an oral anti-itch medication, and sometimes a topical steroid as well. An Elizabethan collar is used to prevent chewing and scratching at the site until it is healed.

The Takeaway

Flea control is very important as well as this can be the cause of the hot spot in the first place. We recommend Sentinel monthly for heartworm, flea, and intestinal parasite control as well as Bravecto every 3 months for flea and tick control. If left untreated, hot spots can become quite large and are very painful for the dog. If your dog is more itchy than normal, we recommend an examination with the veterinarian to determine the cause.

If you need to discuss flea and other parasite prevention with your veterinarian or schedule your pet's next appointment, please contact us today.

The Drake Center for Veterinary Care is an AAHA-accredited animal hospital located in Encinitas, CA. The Drake Center loves being a source of information for all pet owners across the country however if you have any questions regarding pet care and do not live in Encinitas, CA or surrounding cities, we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian.

Blog Category: