Hot spots are medically known as acute moist dermatitis; essentially, these spots are reddened, localized bacterial skin infections, common in many species of dogs. The bacterial infection is not what triggers the creation of a hot spot, however. A simple persistent skin irritation that causes itching is what gets hot spots going; a dog will chew or simply lick the irritated area constantly as long as the itching persists, and this will lead to skin damage. Once the skin is damaged, bacteria can easily move in and infect the area. Some of the most common causes of the initial skin irritation are fleas or other parasites, allergies, burrs, lack of grooming and heat; some dogs are so sensitive, though, that even something as simple as a certain type of shampoo may initiate irritation. Some experts actually believe that the underlying cause of the majority of hot spots is merely an increase in the humidity and overall temperature of the skin; add any of the above factors and the irritation simply gets worse.
Dogs that have long hair and heavy coats, like Norwegian Elkhounds, seem to be at a much higher risk for hot spots, especially those due to heat; hot spots are most often seen in these breeds in the summer months. Dogs that are developing hot spots will display certain characteristic signs, which, if observed, should lead you to immediately seek veterinary advice. One of the telltale signs of the development of hot spots is intense, constant scratching. You may also see areas on your dog's coat where the hair has been lost; these areas may be very red and the skin may be oozing and/or moist. The skin can also become riddled with scabs or crusts.
Hot spots can be treated and with a little care and effort, can be prevented from returning. You'll need to clip the hair from around the infected area and clean it with antibacterial solutions to fight the infection and drying solutions to help mitigate the itchiness. To even further stop the itchiness, and to curtail your dog's insistent and harmful scratching, your vet may also administer some cortisone-like drug. Some dogs, including some Elkhounds, may not present with a bacterial infection of the area and so antibacterial medications will not be necessary. Indeed, vets today recognize two types of hot spots: superficial and deep; the first does not involve a bacterial infection, while the second does. Your vet will try to figure out the underlying cause of the hot spot and will give you suggestions as to what to do to avoid future recurrences.
In the case of Norwegian Elkhounds, you need to make sure that they are properly taken care of during the hot summer months. While these dogs are highly adaptable and can acclimate to virtually any type of climate if given adequate time, you must keep in mind that they are northern breeds and should not be exposed to the heat for extended periods of time. They should also in no way be allowed to strenuously exercise during the hottest part of the day during the summer. In essence, if you help your Elkhound combat the heat, you will most likely avoid the appearance of hot spots.