Hot spots in dogs: what are they and what can we do about them?


Hot spot is a common and well-known skin disorder. Nonetheless, all red and bald areas are not hot spots. Read this article to known how to recognise and manage it.

Marina G Veterinarian

Have you noticed your dog licking, scratching or chewing at a spot on their skin more than usual? Or have you seen a red, wet, angry patch of skin on your dog? Your pet may be suffering from a common skin complaint: the hot spot! Read on to learn more about what they are, how they can be treated and how we can try to stop them from happening in the first place.


What is a hot spot? 

The official term for a hot spot is ‘acute moist dermatitis’, also called ‘pyotraumatic dermatitis’. Simply put, hot spots are skin complaints caused by self-inflicted trauma (excessive licking, chewing or scratching at the area) as a way to relieve itchy skin (pruritus) or to alleviate pain. These hot spots are localised areas of inflamed skin and can appear anywhere on the body, although typically, they will appear near the area of the underlying cause. They are usually acutely itchy, can become extremely sore and are often secondarily infected.  

Acute dermatitis typically appears as red, wet, hot and angry areas of skin that can appear suddenly, usually in less than 36 hours. This is usually very itchy, even painful, and dogs can irritate them until they bleed. Hotspots can produce a sticky discharge which can then form a ‘crust’ over the affected area. Hotspots can be smelly and are usually very obvious as they are red and hairless but can be more difficult to spot if hidden under adjacent long hair.  

Patches of moist dermatitis often start very small and often near the area of the underlying cause and can be mistaken for a pimple or insect bite, but can get larger rapidly, especially if the dog is not prevented from scratching or licking at them. They range in size from a few millimetres across to huge sores taking up large areas of skin if left untreated.  

When hot spots become infected, you will often notice papules (tiny, raised bumps on the skin) and pustules (small white bumps containing pus) around the edge of the hot spot.

5 Key


of hot spots in dogs 

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