Primer On Hot Spots

Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhD
and Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS 

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 as a red, moist, weeping area on the skin, informally called a "hot spot."

The formal name for hot spots is acute moist dermatitis. 

They are most common in long-haired dogs, but any breed can be affected. Fleas and allergies are the most common causes, but any itchy irritation-even serious hair matting-can get a hot spot started.

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, making the problem worse.

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

Your veterinarian will clip away the hair so that the wound can dry out, and then clean the area with an appropriate antibacterial soap or solution.

Follow-up care at home usually includes cleaning, topical medications, and sometimes oral antibiotics or corticosteroids. In addition, the underlying cause of the hot spot must be addressed by controlling fleas, allergies, infections, hair mats, etc.


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  1. My family remedy for hot spots on our dogs for years has been Bag Balm from The Vermont Country Store! Works great!

    1. Interesting, I'll check it out to see what it is. Glad you have something that's been working for you and thank you for sharing.


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