Hot Spot Symptoms in Dogs and Cats

Hot Spot Symptoms in Dogs and Cats
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Hot spots are one of the most painful skin infections out there. Learn the symptoms to help keep your pet happy and comfortable.

Hot spots look painful because they are painful. In fact, they are one of the most painful skin infections that your pet can suffer. Hot spots appear as circular patches of red, swollen skin that are typically 1 to 4 inches across. They are often accompanied by oozing pus and an unpleasant odor. Your pet may develop just one hot spot - on their ear, for example - or multiple hot spots at once on different parts of their body.

These sensitive patches of skin can appear seemingly out of nowhere, then grow rapidly in a short amount of time. The infection site may become hairless or partially hairless as a result of your pet’s constant rubbing or licking, making the hot spot easy to identify.

Behavioral Symptoms

If your pet has long hair or a heavy coat, the hot spot may be obscured and thus more difficult to identify. In these cases it is important to pay particular attention to the behavioral symptoms which may include:

  • Excessive licking, biting, or scratching of the skin
  • Fear or aggression when touched or approached    

Pets with hot spots engage in excessive licking, biting, or scratching in order to soothe the affected area, which may be extremely itchy or painful. These behaviors can provide momentary relief, but the longer your pet is allowed to irritate their skin, the worse the infection will get.

Your pet may exhibit fear or aggression when touched or approached as a result of the highly sensitive and tender nature of hot spots. It is not unusual for pets to run away, yelp, or even snap at their owner. This behavior is indicative of an immensely painful hot spot, and you should seek treatment right away.

Hot Spot Symptoms Roundup

  • Circular patches of red, swollen skin typically 1-4 inches across
  • Oozing pus or discharge
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Hair loss on and around affected area
  • Excessive licking, biting, or scratching
  • Fear or aggression when approached

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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