Missing fur? Red, oozing sores? If your dog is licking his skin until his fur falls out and a red, irritated area appears, it is probably because of a hot spot.
Hot spots can be caused by insect bites, parasites, allergies or even boredom. Some dogs with separation anxiety--an intense fear of being left alone that is often evidenced by destructive behavior--lick for no physical reason, causing a hot spot. Also known as acute dermatitis, hot spots are usually seen in dogs with long fur or dense undercoats and plague dogs in the summer. Hot spots can be cured or controlled through holistic or conventional veterinary medicine.
To treat a hot spot, gently remove fur from the area, using scissors. Clean the area with soapy water and rinse well. Dab the area with a cotton ball drenched in witch hazel. Use the witch hazel at least four times a day until the hot spot is resolved. Other home remedies that soothe hot spot irritations include a mixture of baking soda and water until it is a paste which is applied to the skin. Apple cider vinegar dabbed on the area seems to help also.
If the hot spot persists for more than a few days, the dog should visit a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. The veterinarian may treat the affected area with a topical steroid cream or even give a steroid injection to stop the itching. Some dogs may need a special collar called an E-Collar to prevent licking. If the hot spot is still bothersome after a week, the vet may need to run tests to identify the irritant or any bacteria causing the problem.
Allergies to flea bites are a common cause of hot spots so flea prevention is important. There are topical medications that kill fleas for 30 days, including Advantage and Frontline. Too frequent bathing can cause skin irritation, so speak with a groomer or a veterinarian to determine how often your dog should be bathed. Frequent brushing can prevent hot spots by removing dander and other allergens from the coat and skin.
Check with a veterinarian before using any substance on a dog's skin. If the dog is licking the area, he will ingest whatever you put on his skin.
Immediate veterinary attention is necessary if the hot spot appears infected.