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Hot Spots! Too Much Licking

canine hot spot pawDogs lick themselves to clean themselves, however not all licking is for hygiene. Licking can also be a sign that something is wrong.  Read our post about what excessive licking in dogs can mean in terms of infection, arthritis and anxiety.  Sometimes all that licking can lead to a “Hot Spot”.

A hot spot is a red, wet irritated area of the skin caused by licking, chewing, biting and rubbing, called acute moist dermatitis. It is hallmarked by:

  • Moist Skin
  • No hair (hair rubbed off)
  • Red
  • Inflamed
  • Sore and irritated

They are most commonly on the head, chest or hips, but can often be found on paws.  As hot spots develop, it is likely that your dog will continue to “worry” the area, making the hot spot bigger and more inflamed.


There are a variety of different potential causes for hotspots. If you are not sure what is causing them, make sure to consult your vet. They may want to perform some tests.

  • Allergies
  • Boredom
  • Anxiety
  • Dry Skin
  • Pain (arthritis, an infection, injury)
  • Parasites (fleas, ticks and mites)


If there is an underlying cause, your vet will need to treat that cause.  He may give you some topical ointment for the hot spot to help alleviate the immediate symptoms.  It may be necessary for your dog to wear a Victorian Collar if he cannot stop worrying the hot spot.

Often a big cause of hot spots is anxiety or boredom. Our pets get lonely when we are not there and this can cause anxiety. Try to give your dog lots of attention when you get home. Give them something to chew on when you are gone, other than their leg.  You may want to look into treatments for anxiety, there are some nice holistic remedies and some prescription treatments in more extreme cases.