Hot Spots: Acute Moist Dermatitis in Dogs

Dealing with Hot Spots in Dogs

Acute moist dermatitis, also known as hot spots, are localized, moist, reddened bacterial infections of the skin of dogs. A hot spot starts because something irritates the skin. The body’s response is either to itch or become inflamed. The itching then causes the dog to lick or chew the area, which further damages the skin, and creates a cycle of itching, scratching and chewing.

Hot spots can be caused by anything that irritates the skin and initiates an itch-scratch cycle, but the most common irritants are fleas. Other causes are allergies (flea, inhalant, food), parasitic disease (sarcoptic and demodectic mange), anal gland disease, poor grooming, tick and mosquito bites, burrs, and summer heat. They are most common in long-haired and heavy-coated breeds, and are more prevalent during the summer months.

What You Look For

You don’t have to look very hard for signs that your dog has acute moist dermatitis. Typically, your dog will exhibit the following:

Diagnosis of Hot Spots in Dogs

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize the cause of acute moist dermatitis and exclude other diseases. Your veterinarian can usually make a preliminary diagnosis based on a history of rapid onset and the clinical appearance of the lesions.

Treatment of Hot Spots in Dogs

Treatment will be directed at relieving the itching, healing the lesion, and treating the underlying cause. Your veterinarian may prescribe cortisone-like drugs and antibiotics. He may also clip the area and cleanse it with antiseptic solutions.

Home Care

At home you should follow directions for care outlined by your veterinarian. Included in your at-home care might be:

Preventive Care

If your dog has repeated problems with hot spots, limit sources of irritation to the best of your ability. Your may want to take the following precautions: