Top 5 Winter Hot Spots on Your Dog’s Skin

Posted - December 22, 2021

By Patricia Thomblison, DVM, MS 

Hot spots in winter. Sorry, no, this is not a blog about wonderful vacation destinations during cold months, but rather a reminder that your pet can get painful hot spots even during the winter. Hot spots are localized areas of skin inflammation and infection. Almost anything that causes itching can lead to the development of hot spots. It may start out small and rapidly morph into a red, painful, oozing lesion.  

Although hot spots are more common in summer, some of the same trigger points are around in the winter, and some have their own twist for the season.  

ALLERGIES 

Allergies occur year-round but during the winter months, there may be different allergens to worry about. They may be allergic to the dust or mold on seasonal decorations that have been stored. Or to mold that has been allowed to flourish on cut trees that have been bundled up for delivery. Also, if your pet has food allergies and is on special food, be sure to alert guests of potential problems. Remind them that no treats or table food are the rules of the house.  

SNOW DAYS 

Although dogs might not swim as much in the winter, in certain climates they can still be exposed to moisture. Many dogs love to play in the snow and as they romp, they get water in their coats including the undercoat. Be sure to dry them off thoroughly when they come inside, paying special attention to the undercoat which keeps them warm but can also trap water. Snow clumped on their fur can be removed with a hairdryer rather than pulling it off. Be sure to dry the whole dog.  

DRY HEATED AIR 

Have you noticed how your skin gets dry and flakey during the winter months? The same can happen to your pet. With their heavy winter coat, you may not notice the flaking and skin irritation, but the damage may lead to more serious problems. Just as you may be using more lotion during the winter, consider adding moisturizing products for your pet such as the ZYMOX® Leave-On Conditioner. This conditioner can be applied full strength like a cream and can provide soothing relief for dry or irritated skin.   

FLEA ALLERGY DERMATITIS 

You may have your parasite prevention program in place for your pets, but your guests that bring their pets, may not. Just a few fleas that manage to stay behind could cause allergies. You may not even see fleas on your pet if they are allergic, just a lot of excessive grooming. Make sure that you know the signs of flea allergy dermatitis and how to prevent it.

YEAR-ROUND VIGILANCE 

For some pets, hot spots can be seasonal. For others, it can be a year-long battle.  If you find your pet is itching, chewing, or licking an area, there are some steps to help keep the condition from worsening and to encourage healthy, comfortable skin.  

  • Bathing and brushing your pet are great first steps and will help to remove allergens and irritants.  
  • Pay special attention to thoroughly drying the coat after baths or wet play (romping in the snow or swimming).  
  • Carefully trim the hair around the affected area.  
  • Use a topical cream or spray to reduce the itch. Look for products with antibacterial effectiveness such as the ZYMOX Topical Cream and Spray. These products do not contain antibiotics and will not encourage antimicrobial resistance. 
  • Monitor, access, and care for the hot spots daily.  
  • Use of an Elizabethan collar may be needed to prevent your pet from licking or scratching and causing further damage. 
  • If a response is not seen in a few days or the condition worsens, consult with your veterinarian about the best treatment plan.  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Arden MooreDr. Patricia Thomblison is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where she earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Science. She has devoted her career to keeping pets healthy and happy. She has served many roles in this endeavor to educate veterinary professionals and pet parents on many topics of animal health. She has worn several hats in the areas of clinical pathology, nutrition, and parasitology. She is a well-respected medical editor, veterinary consultant, and lecturer. She enjoys the company of her two cats, Miles Davis and Stewart, as well as a rambunctious dog named Barnibus and her children’s dogs.