Moist Dermatitis – AKA Hot Spots

You’ve enjoyed a wonderful weekend with your pooch. Maybe you went to the cottage for some fun, or perhaps you hit the trail for a walk, or maybe you played it low key and hung out in your backyard. Whatever the case may be,

Monday morning rolls around and you notice your dog is licking.

And bothering.

And scratching.

And uncomfortable.

What the heck is going on?

Chances are, they (and now you too) may be dealing with a hot spot!

animal dog pet sad

Essentially, a hot spot is an area of skin that has developed an irritation, which results in a wet, raw and inflamed lesion. It is not a nice thing to look at, and it is even worse for the animal – hot spots are typically painful, stinky and very itchy. And while they can develop at any time of the year, it is during the summer months that we see them most often. This is most likely due to the increased exposure to moist environments that our pets experience during this time of year.

So, how are they treated and what can we do to prevent them?


Once you have taken your dog to see your veterinarian and they have confirmed that they are indeed suffering form a hot spot, treatment is relatively easy.


First, the affected area needs to be cleaned. In order to do this effectively, your vet will clip/shave the hair surrounding the hot spot. This will not only allow oxygen to get to the area to help dry it up, but it will also enable your vet to properly cleanse the area of any bacteria that may be lingering between the fur and the affected skin.

Once the hot spot has been cleaned and thoroughly dried, your vet may apply a cream or spray to aid in the healing process and to help with any irritation or itchiness that your dog may be feeling. Your veterinarian may recommend that you continue with this treatment for a number of days, or they may feel that the initial treatment will be enough. It all depends on the severity of the hot spot. Occasionally, antibiotics may be prescribed to fight off any sort of bacterial infection.

Next, we want to prevent any further damage to the skin. This means that your dog cannot lick, scratch or bite the hot spot or the area surrounding it. Depending on the location of the hot spot, an e-collar will likely do the trick, or you might have to be a bit more creative – sometimes a cotton onesie may be the answer. Together with your veterinarian, you will be able to figure something out to stop access to the area.

Finally, all you need to do is monitor the area (and possibly apply some medication if prescribed). It is always a good idea to take a picture of the area shortly after your visit to the vet’s office so that you will have something to compare to as the days go on. When you look at the area each day, it should never look worse than that first picture you took. Continuing taking pictures and you will be amazed at how the body is able to heal itself!

Hot Spot

This lovely golden retriever is a patient of ours. Her owner noticed that something was off the evening prior and booked her in to see us the following day. Our doctor confirmed that she did have a hot spot. The area was clipped and cleaned, and the patient went home with a course of antibiotics and some steroids.

Keep in mind that hot spots can take up several weeks to fully heal. If you have any concerns or feel that it just doesn’t look right, contact your vet’s office right away for a recheck. There could be an underlying issue causing the hot spot that needs to be addressed.


Now that you know all about hot spots and how to treat them, what can be done to prevent them from even happening in the first place?

Hot spots, as mentioned above, are usually caused by increased exposure to moisture – anything from a swim in the lake to rolling around on a freshly watered lawn has the potential to cause a hot spot. Even a small amount of water trapped underneath your dog’s fur can wreak havoc on the skin below, especially if your dog is bothering with the area. All it takes is a small abrasion in the area and a hot spot can get very ugly, very quickly. It can happen so fast that by the time you notice that anything is going on, the hot spot can already be well established.

In order to avoid a potential hot spot, the number one thing you can do is keep your dog properly groomed.

This should be the rule of thumb throughout the year, but it is especially important during the summer months. By brushing out loose fur and matts, and even keeping your dog’s hair trimmed (depending on their type of coat), can allow better airflow to the skin. Always make sure that after your dog has had a bath or has been swimming, that you dry them off as well as you can. Soak up as much dampness from their coat as possible; pay special attention to areas that have a harder time drying on their own, such as the ears and groin area.

Another way to keep your dog from developing hot spots is to keep them active and mentally stimulated.

When an animal is bored (or sometimes stressed), they can develop the bad habit of chewing or licking at themselves. This is a surefire way to increase their chances of a hot spot. The busier they are, the less time they have to bother with their skin!

So there you have it: a crash course in hot spots!

Hopefully you found this article interesting and informative. Please feel free to share any experiences you have had in dealing with hot spots on your dog. What worked? What didn’t? How have you been able to prevent a repeat occurrence? As always, we love to hear from our readers.

Thank you for reading,


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