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Hot Spots in Dogs: From Understanding to Prevention and Relief

dog hot spot
Reviewed by Dr. Joseph Menicucci, DVM, MBA. Veterinary Health Specialist and Diagnostic Expert.

* This content is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice.  
If your pet shows any symptoms mentioned, promptly consult a veterinarian.

What is a Hot Spot?

A hot spot, or acute moist dermatitis, is a localized area of skin inflammation
that becomes infected. These spots are typically red, moist, and extremely itchy,
prompting dogs to lick, scratch, or bite the area, further aggravating the condition.
Hot spots can spread rapidly, so early detection and treatment are crucial.

How Can Hot Spots Be Prevented?

Preventing hot spots in dogs requires a proactive approach that addresses their root causes.

The Importance of Professional Insight

If your dog has hot spots, consulting a veterinarian is crucial. Different causes necessitate specific treatments, and a vet can accurately diagnose the root problem—be it parasites, hormonal imbalances, or allergies—and prescribe effective relief. Their professional insight is key not just for treatment but also for the long-term management and prevention of hot spots.

The Role of Sensitivity and Intolerance Test Kits

These tests can be a game-changer in identifying what your dog is reacting to. By pinpointing specific sensitivities or intolerances—whether they’re to certain foods, environmental factors, or materials—you can take targeted actions to eliminate or reduce your dog’s exposure to these triggers. Implementing changes based on test results can significantly lower the chances of hot spot recurrence, leading to a happier, healthier life for your dog.


Simplified Dog Sensitivity & Intolerance Detection Test Kits Comparison Chart

Food Sensitivities 236 ingredients 350+ 103 ingredients 275 ingredients 236 ingredients
Environmental Allergens 107 items 300+ 11 items 105 items 107 items
Non-Food Items 58 500+ 12 105 58
Test Focus Common Allergens Extensive Intolerances Food & Environmental Food & Environmental Broad Spectrum
Unique Feature Specialized in Common Allergens Largest Number of Tests Customized Food Recommendations Nutritional Analysis Combined Food & Non-Food Testing

Spotting Hot Spots on Dogs

Hot spots are noticeable as patches where fur is missing, revealing either red, oozy skin or darker, crusty areas. Red, moist spots are usually new, while darker ones may be healing. Dogs can have multiple hot spots at once.

What Causes Hot Spots?

Several factors can trigger the development of hot spots in dogs. Understanding these triggers is crucial for both treatment and prevention:

  • Allergies: Dogs can have allergies just like humans. These can be food ingredients (like chicken, beef, or grains), environmental factors (such as pollen or mold), or seasonal changes that introduce new allergens into their environment. 
  • Parasites: Fleas, mites, and ticks are not just annoying for your dog; they’re also common culprits behind allergic reactions and intense itching. This constant irritation can break the skin’s surface, making it a perfect entry point for bacteria and leading to hot spots.

    The leading triggers of hot spots are often tied to allergies from parasites, food, or the environment. Discover the specific causes affecting your dog with My Pet Sensitivity‘s straightforward test kit. Eliminate the guesswork and pinpoint the precise allergens troubling your pet.
  • Moisture: Dogs love to swim, and many live in humid climates, but staying wet can predispose them to hot spots. Moisture trapped in the fur creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, leading to skin infections if not dried properly.
  • Underlying Skin Conditions: Some dogs are more prone to skin issues like seborrhea (a condition causing flaky skin or greasiness) or dermatitis (inflammation of the skin). These conditions weaken the skin’s defenses, making it easier for hot spots to develop when the dog scratches or licks the irritated areas.
  • Poor Grooming: Regular grooming is essential for all dogs, especially those with long or dense coats. Neglect can lead to mats and tangles that trap moisture, dirt, and pathogens against the skin, causing irritation and infection. Hot spots often form under these neglected areas, hidden until they become a significant issue.
  • Stress and Boredom: Behavioral issues stemming from stress, anxiety, or boredom can lead dogs to lick, chew, or scratch themselves compulsively. This behavior not only reflects emotional distress but can also cause physical harm in the form of hot spots, especially if the dog targets the same area repeatedly.

Identifying and addressing these triggers is a vital step in both treating existing hot spots and preventing new ones from forming, ensuring your dog remains happy, healthy, and comfortable.

Best Dog Sensitivity & Intolerance Detection Test Kits

Most sensitive: My Pet Sensitivity

my pet sensitivity Advanced Pet Sensitivity Test

My Pet Sensitivity: Comprehensive Sensitivity Testing for Pets

  • Sensitivity & Intolerance Test: Screens for 300+ items.
  • Environmental Sensitivities: Identifies potential triggers from the environment.
  • Nutritional Imbalances: Detects deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.
  • Non-Invasive: Uses hair samples for testing.
  • Detailed Report: Provides a comprehensive breakdown of sensitivities.


My Pet Sensitivity stands out with its commitment to understanding the unique sensitivities of pets. Their tests analyze over 460 common food ingredients and environmental factors, providing a holistic view of what might be causing discomfort to pets. The process is straightforward: register the test, collect a small fur sample, send it in, and receive detailed results within five days of the sample reaching their facility. Their brand story emphasizes the deep bond between pets and their owners, and their goal is to enhance the quality of life for both. With a range of tests tailored for different pets, including dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens, My Pet Sensitivity is dedicated to ensuring the best health and well-being for our furry companions.

My Pet Sensitivity Full Review



Widest Variety of Quality Products: Chewy


Chewy: Your One-Stop Shop for Leading Pet DNA and Allergy Testing Kits

  • Pinpoint the cause of your dog’s discomfort: Over 120 Allergens Tested
  • Custom Food Recommendations: Tailored advice based on detected allergies.
  • Easy Swab Process: Simple, user-friendly testing.
  • Results in 7 Days: Quick turnaround for peace of mind.
  • Comprehensive Sensitivity Overview: Understand your dog’s environmental and food sensitivities.


Chewy stands as a leading and established name in the pet industry, renowned for its extensive range of pet products, including an impressive selection of the best dog DNA and allergy tests from top companies. With a commitment to providing exceptional customer service, Chewy has earned the trust and loyalty of millions of satisfied customers worldwide. Their platform offers a curated collection of DNA and allergy tests, enabling pet owners to gain valuable insights into their pets’ breed, health, and potential sensitivities with ease and accuracy. Chewy’s dedication to quality, reliability, and customer satisfaction has solidified its reputation as a go-to destination for pet owners seeking the best products and services for their furry family members.


Most Extensive Range Of Tests: 5Strands

5Strands: Comprehensive Intolerance Detection

  • Affordable Testing: budget-friendly intolerance tests.
  • Extensive Screening: 300+ food and environmental items.
  • Non-Invasive: Uses hair samples for testing.
  • Fast Results: Delivers results within 5-7 days.
  • Detailed Report: Provides a comprehensive report with a level of intolerance.


5Strands takes a holistic approach to pet health, emphasizing the intricate relationship between your pet and its environment. Their testing method demands a full commitment, which might sometimes require a shift from processed pet food to home-cooked meals or a raw diet. This ensures a more accurate detection of allergens that could be affecting your pet’s well-being.

5Strands Full Review


Fastest Results: CheckMyBodyHealth

check my body health Pet Sensitivity Test

CheckMyBodyHealth: Pioneering Pet Sensitivity Analysis

  • Holistic Health Testing: Offers tests for both pets and humans.
  • Extensive Sensitivity Analysis: Covers 300+ food and non-food items.
  • Easy Sample Collection: Uses a simple hair sample.
  • Fast Turnaround: Delivers results within 7-10 days.
  • Customer-Centric Approach: Emphasizes customer satisfaction.


CheckMyBodyHealth offers a unique approach to pet sensitivity testing. Unlike many other services, there’s no physical kit sent out. Instead, pet owners are guided through a seamless process where they send in their pet’s hair or fur sample. This method ensures a hassle-free experience for the pet and the owner. Once the sample is received, results are delivered within a mere three working days, making it one of the fastest turnaround times in the industry. The test is comprehensive, analyzing sensitivities to a vast array of potential irritants. Their commitment to efficiency and accuracy makes CheckMyBodyHealth a top choice for those seeking insights into their pet’s sensitivities.

CheckMyBodyHealth Full Review


Find Fast Relief for Your Dog’s Hot Spots with Chewy’s Vet-Recommended Products

For treating your dog’s hot spots effectively, Chewy offers a variety of vet-recommended products to soothe irritation and promote healing. From mild antiseptics to gentle topical treatments and protective Elizabethan collars, find everything you need to care for your furry friend’s skin. Visit Chewy’s hot spot and itch relief section for a selection of trusted products designed to provide your dog with fast relief.


Understanding the Healing Process of Dog Hot Spots

Hot spots heal in three key stages once proper treatment is applied:

  • Initial Healing (3-7 Days): Redness and ooziness reduce, revealing a crusty layer of skin.
  • Mid-Stage Healing (~5 Days): Crusts and scabs start to fall off, unveiling pink or darkened skin underneath.
  • Final Healing (1 Month+): Skin color normalizes and fur begins to regrow, fully covering the area over time.

If your dog’s hot spots don’t improve or worsen after initial treatment, consulting your vet is crucial for further guidance.

Allergies vs. Sensitivities and Intolerances

Distinguishing between allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances is crucial for your dog’s health. Each condition affects your dog differently and requires unique management and treatment.


Allergies in dogs involve an immune system response to an allergen, usually a protein. Symptoms include itching, inflamed skin, vomiting, and diarrhea. Allergies are less common but more severe due to immune involvement. They can also be triggered by environmental factors like pollen and mold​.
Remember, allergy testing is a veterinarian’s task.

Sensitivities and Intolerances

Sensitivities and intolerances do not involve the immune system. They are generally related to the digestive system’s inability to process certain foods, causing symptoms like loose stools, gas, and stomach pain. These conditions are common and often confused with allergies​.

Why the Confusion?

Many pet owners mistakenly seek allergy tests for conditions that are actually sensitivities or intolerances. We use the term “allergy test” to guide owners to the appropriate tests. However, diagnosing allergies is a veterinarian’s job. Always consult a vet for accurate diagnosis and treatment.


What exactly are dog hot spots?

Hot spots are painful, inflamed, and infected areas on a dog’s skin that worsen from excessive licking, biting, or scratching.

Can hot spots clear up on their own?

Without intervention, hot spots are likely to worsen. Prompt treatment is necessary to heal the area and address the root cause.

Are certain dogs more prone to hot spots?

Yes, dogs with dense undercoats, those living in humid environments, or dogs with existing skin conditions are more susceptible.

How can I prevent my dog from getting hot spots?

Regular grooming, keeping your dog flea-free, ensuring a healthy diet, and using sensitivity and intolerance tests to avoid triggers can significantly reduce the risk of hot spots.

Are hot spots contagious?

No, they are not contagious to other pets or humans but indicate an underlying health issue that needs attention.


How accurate are sensitivity and intolerance test kits?

These test kits can be very accurate in identifying specific triggers affecting your dog’s health, helping you to tailor their environment and diet accordingly.

How does a dog allergy test work?

These tests typically use bioresonance technology or other methods to analyze a sample (hair or saliva) from your dog. The sample is compared against a database of various substances to identify potential intolerances or sensitivities.

What can a dog allergy test detect?

Dog allergy tests can detect sensitivities and intolerances to a wide range of substances, including various types of food ingredients, environmental factors, and potentially harmful materials in skincare products.

Why should I consider an allergy test for my dog?

An allergy test can be helpful if your dog is experiencing symptoms like hot spots, itchy skin, digestive disturbances, vomiting, or flatulence, and you are unable to determine the cause. It can also be used proactively to understand potential intolerances your dog might have.

Is the test suitable for all dogs?

Yes, these tests are generally suitable for all breeds and sizes of dogs. Some tests are also suitable for cats.

A Loving Reminder

The information provided at ThePetPicks.com is based on research and expertise, aiming to enhance the bond between you and your dog. However, it’s essential to remember that every dog is unique. Always consult with professionals, like veterinarians or trainers, for specific concerns or advice. At ThePetPicks.com, we believe in “Trust Born from Love,” and we encourage every pet parent to make informed decisions rooted in love and care.

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Dr. Joseph Menicucci

Dr. Joseph Menicucci is a dedicated veterinarian passionate about enhancing pet health and wellness. He holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Western University of Health Sciences and an MBA focused on Health Care from the Jack Welch Management Institute.

Dr. Menicucci’s career includes valuable experience at Straley Veterinary Clinic, Fort Morgan Veterinarian Clinic, and Trans Ova Genetics. His commitment to accessible, high-quality pet care makes a significant impact on pet owners and their animals.

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