A hot spot, also known as acute moist dermatitis, is a warm, moist to wet, painful, irritated to bloody patch of skin 1 to 4 inches (2.5 to 10 cm) across that seeps pus and gives off a foul odor. It is not a deep wound, but fairly superficial, though extremely painful for the dog. It is important to note that the "term" hot does not designate a symptom, but rather a general description referring to a patch of your dog's skin that is so irritated that she can't leave it alone.


- open skin and raw, , moist, bloody, circular patches of flesh that appear often in more than one spot, usually the head, hips and along the side of the chest.
- the patches appear suddenly and can change very rapidly in size, usually within a matter of hours.
- hair in the area is lost rapidly. However, sometimes hair can mat over the lesion, hiding the size and severity of the problem.
- the infection progresses when the dog licks and chews the infected area.
- hot spots are extremely painful and itchy. Actually, they are sometimes called 'pyotraumatic dermatitis' because the self-inflected trauma is a major factor in the development of hot spots.


Hot spots is a disease that occurs most often in dogs with long hair or those with dense undercoats. It tends to appear just before shedding, when moist, dead hair is trapped between the skin and the topcoat. Larger breeds, such as Newfoundlands and Golden Retrievers, often have hot sports under their ear flaps.

Hot spots occur in equal frequency in both indoor and outdoor living dogs, but they lesions are rare in the colder temperatures of winter. Dogs can develop several of these lesions over the course of their lives, but this is not a long-term disease. Once treated the hot spots will generally be gone in less than a week.


A hot spot can basically be initiated by about anything that can cause a itch. Often they are caused by a local allergic reaction to a specific antigen, atopy (airborne allergies) and food allergies.

Other causes of hot spots that can initiate the itch-scratch-itch cycle include:


Treatment must be initiated as soon as possible to stop further growth of the hot spot and eliminating the cause. In many dogs the initial cause is fleas, but lesions below the ear often indicate an ear infection, while those near the hip may be the result of an anal gland infection. Whatever the cause, it should be treated together with the hot spot.

1. Clip or share the hair over and around the lesion. This makes it easier to treat and avoids further infection.
2. Cleanse the surface of the hot spot with a non-irritating solution, such as Nolvasan, and allow the skin to dry.
3. To help the lesion heal desiccating powders such as Burows solution (Domeboro powder and water) can be applied. Some vets prefer not to use ointments or creams because they can seal in the infection and hinder recovery.
4. In more severe cases the animal may be placed on oral antibiotics and given painkillers and anti-inflammatories or oral corticosteroids to control severe itching.
5. Elizabethan collars may be used if the lesion is on the top of the head to break the vicious cycle of further ichting, licking, scratching.
6. Nails can be clipped and socks can be put on the hind feet for the same reason.

When to go to the Vet

It is very important to not start treating your dog at home but bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Not only can hot spots progress dramatically over a brief period of time, but some types of cancers also look like hot spots and by delaying the visit to your vet, you only delay adequate treatment. Also, hot spots are extremely painful, so your dog usually will need to be sedated or anesthetized for the initial treatment.


To help prevent hot spots:

- Follow a strict flea control program

- Comb your dog often to keep hair loose and tangle free and keep his hair clipped short during summer.

- Keep ear clean and express the anal glands as needed.

- Rinse out all shampoo after bathing. Dried shampoo residue can cause itching and irritation. Be carefull when trying a new brand of shampoo.

- Adding an Omega Fatty Acid supplement to your dog's diet may sometimes help to prevent or improve dermatological problems.

- In hot, humid weather, always dry your heavy-coated dog thoroughly after bathing him and after he swims.

External links
Hot Spots: Acute Moist Dermatitis
My Dog has a Hot Spot
Hot spots. Hot spots frustrate dogs and owners alike by Norma Bennett Woolf


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The information contained in this article expresses the opinions and views of the original author(s) of the article. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice.
No responsibility or liability can be accepted for any loss or damage which results from using or misinterpreting any opinions uttered, products suggested or information mentioned in this article.
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