“Hot Spots” or Acute Moist Dermatitis

The dog’s skin is the largest organ of the body, yet it has a very limited number of ways in which it responds to trauma. “Hot Spots” or acute moist dermatitis are areas on the dog’s skin due to your dog’s itching, biting and scratching and may often show up quite abruptly. A lot of these spots may become pretty big and may appear anywhere on the dog. I find it quite often in the spring time once the temperatures are hotter as well as the humidity is high. The dogs with the thick undercoat, including Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and rottweilers are susceptible to developing these spots on their face and neck. Quite often, areas located at the base of the tail are more than likely because of fleas since fleas love to gather in these spots. Many dogs happen to be so allergic to fleas, the bite of one flea is sufficient to cause the dog to itch all over. Any type of injury can begin the process which the dog then exacerbates by endless chewing and licking which often creates a vicious cycle and will cause the hot spot to spread.

The dog normally has bacteria that resides on their skin and as long as the skin is healthy, the germs almost never trigger any trouble. However when something develops, such as a fleabite, cut or allergies, the dog starts to lick, bite, chew and scratch which disrupts the defensive layer of the skin. When that occurs, the bacteria on the skin, in addition to the germs in the mouth, set up housekeeping in the skin. This creates a fast spreading infection which may be rather painful. The spot on the skin is red, raw and seems moist because the wound oozes serum and pus. The hair then mats down over the wound and the infection then spreads beneath the hair.

A trip to the veterinarian is often warranted. In many cases the fur has to be clipped away to prevent the spread of the infection. Sometimes, these hot spots are so painful, the dog may need to be sedated in order to have the region cleansed and shaved. Antibiotics are prescribed to manage the infection and follow-up antibiotics are sent home. Sprays, ointments and medicated shampoos can also be prescribed to continue treatment at home.. For some dogs, a special collar may be used to help prevent the dog from chewing at the spots.

The root reason for the insult should likewise be tackled. If fleas are present, then all year round flea control may be recommended.(over the counter flea control is not recommended) Pollen, food, and other allergens can also precipitate an attack. Sometimes special diets with essential fatty acids and a novel protein source for instance salmon, lamb or venison might be recommended to help heal the skin. Blood and skin tests can be preformed to help identify what the dog is allergic to and special allergy injections or prescription diets can be offered.


Check your dog daily for itchy spots and use flea control suggested by your veterinarian year round to help prevent hot spots caused by flea allergies. Daily grooming and brushing can keep mats from developing. If your dog is itching continuously, take him to the veterinarian to handle the itching before the infection can progress.

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