A Primer On Hot Spots: Acute Moist Dermatitis in Dogs

Dogs can develop skin rashes from a number of causes, including allergies, fleas, and bacterial or fungal infections.

Sometimes a rash seems to pop up overnight. You’ll find a red, moist, weeping area on the skin—a “hot spot.” The formal name is acute moist dermatitis. 

A Primer On Hot Spots: It is important to protect the hot spot from chewing and licking.


Hot spots are most common in long-haired dogs. However, any breed can develop them. Fleas and allergies are the most common causes. But a hot spot can start with any itchy irritation. Even severe hair matting can get lead to a hot spot.

Common causes of hot spots in dogs:

  • allergies
  • excessive moisture from swimming
  • excessive licking (including from boredom)
  • poor grooming
  • anal gland issues

In addition, systemic issues that affect immune function can increase the likelihood of your dog developing hot spots.

What does a hot spot look like

Dogs lick the itchy area intensely, often when no one is looking, until it becomes red, raw, and moist. Bacteria then often move in and infect the damaged area, worsening the problem.

Fortunately, hot spots are usually superficial and look much worse than they are. 

However, hot spots can worsen quite quickly—increase in size, bleed and ooze. The sooner you discover and treat them, the easier they are to address.

Hot spots treatment

Your veterinarian will clip away the hair so that the wound can dry out. Then they’ll clean the area with an appropriate antibacterial soap or solution. The key is to keep the area dry and prevent your dog from licking or scratching the area.

Follow-up care at home usually includes:

  • cleaning
  • topical medications
  • sometimes oral antibiotics or corticosteroids

In addition, it is essential to address the underlying cause. That includes controlling fleas, allergies, infections, hair mats, etc.

Related articles:
Acute Moist Dermatitis in Dogs: Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog—Hot Spots

Further reading:
First Aid for Hot Spots in Dogs

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