How To Handle Hot Spots, Or “Summer Sores,” On Your Dog Or Cat


If your dog or cat has ever itched, licked, or scratched at a certain spot on his skin so much that it becomes inflamed and possibly infected, you—and unfortunately your pet—have experienced a hot spot. The broad definition of a hot spot is a sore on the skin that is so itchy your pet cannot leave it alone. The affected area is usually hot to the touch from the localized inflammation and skin infection, thus the name “hot” spot.

Although hot spots occur on both dogs and cats anytime of the year, some veterinarians also call them “summer sores” because the hot season brings about extra irritants that can cause the irritations to flare. Our region’s summer warmth and humidity, coupled with any small cut, scrape, or irritation on your pet’s skin stimulates bacterial growth that can cause a hot spot.

A variety of factors such as allergies, insect bites, splinters, a new shampoo, or anything that causes an initial itch on the skin can be the culprit behind a hot spot. Flea allergy dermatitis is one common cause of hot spots for both cats and dogs, and for sensitive pets just one flea bite can cause a raging hot spot.

Regardless of the initial cause, the bottom line is that hot spots are extremely distressing for our furry friends. And once a dog or cat starts scratching or licking at the area, the hot spot can quickly become worse. Some pets even chew or tear at the irritated area, creating hair loss, a weeping open wound, and serious infection.

It’s important to note that some hot spots are more than just an itchy spot or skin infection, so it’s best to have your vet examine your pet to make sure the area isn’t a symptom of a fungal disease or even cancer. All too often pet owners attempt to diagnose and home-medicate a hot spot that turns out to be cancer, which ultimately just delays the diagnosis and treatment.

But once your vet has ruled out other diseases and has confirmed that your pet does indeed have a festering hot spot, he or she can break your pet’s viscous licking and scratching cycle by alleviating the itch and treating the infection. The vet may recommend short-acting cortosteroids, antihistamines, antibiotics, or an Elizabethan collar to get the condition under control. Once the itch dies down and your pet stops scratching and licking, the hot spot will have the chance to heal.

The veterinarians at PetWellClinic® are accustomed to diagnosing and treating hot spots, and encourage you to bring your pet in at the first sign of a potential hot spot. Our wellness walk-in clinics in Knoxville and Alcoa are dedicated to helping dog and cat owners treat skin conditions like hot spots or minor injuries, as well as keep their pets from getting diseases related to parasites such as ticks, fleas, and heartworms.

By operating convenient hours for non-surgical care, PetWellClinic® is able to offer substantially discounted prices for wellness exams as well as parasite preventative products, vaccinations, and treatment of minor conditions like hot spots. Our staff can also help you manage your pet’s chronic conditions, and monitor lab work in a quick and affordable manner. We operate as a “minute clinic” for your pet—no appointment necessary, with convenient evening and weekend hours and quick in-and-out service.

PetWellClinic® has three locations: 10549 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922; 7329 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919; and 228 S. Calderwood Street, Alcoa, TN 37701. Learn more about how PetWellClinic® can exceed your expectations for affordable, top quality pet care by visiting our website at


Leave a Comment