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If you're wondering whether humidity causes hot spots in dogs, most likely you're worried about your dog getting this annoying skin condition.

Perhaps, you are thinking about retiring with your dog in Florida or some other muggy place, and you're concerned about the likeliness of of hot spots. 

Your concerns are valid. Hot spots can turn ugly rather quickly, making your dog miserable and often requiring several medications. 

Not to mention, you're forced to shave your dog and stuck with a hairless spot where hair takes long to grow!

Facts About Hot Spots 

Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, or pyotraumatic dermatitis, are inflamed lesions that form on your dog's skin. 

As they progress, they tend to become itchy and painful leading to the dog scratching and triggering hair loss. 

The scratching aggravates the area, causing the area to quickly become moist, smelly and oozing with a pus-like material. 

Due to the fact that these lesions occur rather rapidly, (usually within hours or overnight), the term "acute" moist dermatitis, fits well. 

Hot spots can affect any part of the dog's body but they're most common on long-haired breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Saint Bernard, Rottweilers, collies, Newfoundland, German shepherds, and other long hair or heavy coats. 

These dog breeds have a double coat with a dense undercoat, which predisposes them to hot spots due to less "air flow" to the skin.

A common arear for hots spot to occur is laterally to the dog's face, right under the ear. However, hot spots can take place almost anywhere on the dog's body. 

Wet dog smell? Not my fault..

A moist coat and humid weather can be culprits for hot spots in dogs

Can Humidity Cause Hot Spots in Dogs?

Yes, humidity can predispose dogs to hot spots. So if you're living in the tropics or places where it's very hot and humid, you have bigger chances for your dog developing this skin condition, claims Dr Brian Loon from Amber Vet, in an article for Pet's Magazine. 

On top of environmental humidity, anything that causes your dogs' coat to remain humid can be predisposing factors.

For example, leaving a dog wet after a bath, swimming, or the simple licking and chewing dogs do to their fur. 

Another common culprit are electric fence collars that get wet, allowing bacterial overgrowth, points out board-certified veterinary dermatologist Dr. Lauren R. Pinchbeck on MedVet. 

Areas with matted hairs can too trigger hot spots considering that they prevent ventilation to the area and the dog may scratch these areas.

Did you know? A common bacterium found in hot spots is Staphylococcus pseudintermedius. 

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This type of bacteria is commonly found in the dogs' mouth and therefore occurs as a result of a dog's licking and chewing.

When the skin becomes infected, the lesion is called pyotraumatic folliculitis or furunculosis. 

Picture of a dog's hot spot behind the ear. Dog Discoveries, All rights reserved 

Picture of a dog's hot spot behind the ear. Dog Discoveries, All rights reserved 

How Does Humidity Cause Hot Spots in Dogs?

It all starts with irritated skin. The dog itches and the dog scratches causing a break in the skin. Local skin inflammation and itchiness are therefore considered predisposing factors. 

Since the skin is covered with a thick layer of fur, there is poor ventilation which predispose bacteria to quickly grow and colonize the area.

Other than hot and humid weather, hot spots can be triggered by anything capable of irritating the skin and triggering the dog to chew or scratch. 

This includes triggers such as parasites, in particular, fleas and scabies mites, skin allergies (allergies to food proteins, grasses, pollens, molds, dust mites etc) and foreign bodies stuck to the fur.

Even ear infections can be a culprit considering how affected dogs often scratch the areas around the neck.

Why Does My Dog Get Hot Spots in the Summer?

Hot spots tend to develop more in the summer because these are the most humid months of the year.

Many dog owners in Florida report that their dogs start getting more hot spots starting as soon as the hot and humid weather returns in the spring. 

Dog Hot Spots

Florida's hot and humid summers can predispose dogs to hot spots.

Preventing Future Hot Spots 

All skin conditions, including hot spots, are never just a simple skin problem. They always have an underlying cause and usually are just a symptom of some other problem or disorder. 

This is why is important to treat not only the hot spots but to also address the real cause of the hot spot.

Once an underlying cause is found, it is paramount finding ways to prevent future instances. However, it's important to realize that not all hot spots can be prevented, but we can take steps to reduce their incidence. 

 Here are some tips:

  • Keep your dog's coat dry. This means ensuring its properly dry after swimming, after a walk in the rain or after a bath.
  • Ensure the skin by the neck area is dry before letting your dog wear a collar.
  • Check your dog's coat for matted hairs and foreign bodies.
  • Use flea and tick prevention as necessary. Just one flea is capable of causing annoying allergic reactions to the flea's saliva with associated chewing and scratching. 
  • Brush you dog's coat and prevent mats from forming. In particular, make sure no mats are forming behind the ears, which is a common area for the longer, finer hairs to mat.
  • See a board-certified dermatologist if your dog suffers from ongoing allergies. These specialists can conduct allergy testing to possibly find the specific allergy. If the offending allergen is found, then allergy injections or avoiding the specific allergen can turn helpful.

Disclaimer: If your dog has a skin condition, please see your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

References:

  • Kachhawa, J.P.. (2016). Six cases of acute moist dermatitis. Indian Journal of Canine Practice. 
  • MedVet: "Hot Spots in Dogs"

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