Pictures of Hot Spots on Dogs: Identifying and Treating Acute Moist Dermatitis

collage of pictures showing hot spots on dogs

This article was updated on October 19th, 2023

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Ouch! Is your dog dealing with hot spot pain? Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, are a common skin condition in dogs that require immediate attention. In this article, we will explore pictures of hot spots on dogs and discuss effective home remedies and treatment options.

What Do Hot Spots Look Like on Dogs? (7 Pictures)

A hot spot is an inflamed area of a dog’s skin that may be infected with bacteria. These areas are red, irritated, and moist, with oozing pus on the surface. The affected skin is fragile and easily bleeds, often concealed by matted fur. Imagine a raw and wet scab – that’s what a hot spot looks like.

dog licking area near a hot spot

Hot spots are more likely to occur during the summer months and can cause biting, itching, and scratching. It’s important to take immediate action to prevent them from worsening or spreading. Here are pictures showcasing hot spots on a dog’s tail and leg:

picture of a hot spot on a dog
hot spot on dog skin close up

Close-up Pictures of Hot Spots on Dogs

Hot spots often exhibit the following characteristics: redness, inflammation, and a moist appearance. They can seemingly appear overnight. Let’s take a closer look at these pictures:

hot spot on a dog
Hot spot on dog

Pictures of Locations Where Hot Spots Frequently Appear

Discovering an oozing sore on your dog’s face, head, limbs, or belly can be distressing. Hot spots can occur anywhere on a dog, but they are most commonly found behind and under the ears, on the legs, and on the hips. Here’s an example of a hot spot that appeared behind a dog’s ear:

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ringworm on dog

Below is another picture of a hot spot on a dog’s leg. The continuous licking has led to redness and bleeding:

ringworm on a dog

Are Hot Spots Painful?

Yes, hot spots can make your dog’s life absolutely miserable. However, they are relatively benign and do not pose a life-threatening risk. Dogs recover from hot spots successfully all the time; it just takes the right treatment.

It is essential to obtain a proper diagnosis to determine the correct treatment. Not all red round lesions are hot spots. In the following section, we will discuss conditions that may resemble hot spots but require different treatments.

Conditions That Look Like Hot Spots… But Are Not Hot Spots

Both ringworm and hot spots appear as red, inflamed patches on a dog’s skin. However, ringworm, a fungal infection, typically presents as circular, scaly lesions with hair loss. Hot spots, on the other hand, are localized, moist bacterial infections that appear suddenly and cause intense itching. Ringworm is treated with antifungals, while hot spots require antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.

This picture shows dry and flaky skin, with plaques, as a result of a fungal infection.
red and black dog skin due to a skin infection
Pictures of Hot Spots on Dogs (Moist Dermatitis) + Vet Info

Other types of skin infections, insect bites, and scrapes can mimic hot spots as well. They cause redness, irritation, and itchiness. It is crucial to have a correct diagnosis for effective treatment.

Pictures of Hot Spots on Dogs (Moist Dermatitis) + Vet Info
Pictures of Hot Spots on Dogs (Moist Dermatitis) + Vet Info
Pictures of Hot Spots on Dogs (Moist Dermatitis) + Vet Info

What You Can Do at Home to Help with Hot Spots

For most dogs, hot spots can be a recurring issue throughout their lives. Treating hot spots at home can be convenient and cost-effective. However, addressing the underlying cause is crucial to prevent them from reoccurring. Mild hot spots can often improve within 3-7 days. It’s recommended to seek advice from your vet before proceeding with home treatment.

1. Anti-inflammatory sprays

One of the most effective at-home treatments for hot spots is using an anti-inflammatory spray like Vetricyn Hot Spot Spray or PetMD Hydrocortisone Spray. These sprays contain potent anti-inflammatories that reduce itchiness and soothe irritated skin, breaking the scratching cycle.

2. Keeping the wound dry and clean

To promote healing, a hot spot must remain dry and clean. This means preventing your dog from licking the area. Consider using a plastic cone until the hot spot starts to heal. Clipping the hair around the hot spot allows it to dry faster. Wash the area with mild soap, rinse thoroughly, and consider applying aloe vera or vitamin E lotions for relief. Ensure your dog doesn’t lick off the lotions.

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Remember to be gentle as hot spots are painful for your furry friend.

Veterinary Treatment of Hot Spots

Sometimes shaving a border of hair around the hot spot can aid in healing. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories may be necessary to treat any underlying infection and alleviate itching. These treatments can be administered topically or orally.

The most crucial part of treatment is addressing the underlying cause. If left untreated, the dog may develop more hot spots. Causes of hot spots can vary, including fleas, allergies, and other infections. Anything that causes a dog to scratch can result in a hot spot. Treatment costs depend on the underlying cause and average between $150-$500.

5 Suggestions to Prevent Hot Spots

Hot spots can be a chronic issue that reappears throughout your dog’s life. Preventing hot spots is more effective than treating them. Here are five simple steps to follow:

  1. Practice good doggy hygiene. Implement a regular bathing and grooming routine to minimize skin irritants, especially if your dog loves rolling around in the mud or has tangled hair.
  2. Avoid products that trigger allergies. Check labels to ensure you don’t buy foods or treats that trigger allergic reactions in your dog.
  3. Say goodbye to boredom. Provide mental stimulation through exercise, games, training, puzzles, and toys to prevent excessive licking due to boredom.
  4. Feed supplementary fatty acids. Consider daily vitamins with fish oil, which contains Omega-3 fatty acids—a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps strengthen the skin barrier.
  5. Consider flea and tick medication. Consult your vet about preventative medication if your dog frequently attracts fleas and ticks, as these parasites can lead to hot spots.

What Causes Hot Spots?

Hot spots are caused by moisture retained in the hair or irritants against the skin. Common scenarios include inadequate drying of the hair coat after swimming or bathing.

Your dog developing hot spots does not mean you failed as a pet owner. Hot spots can occur for various reasons, including allergies, fleas, minor skin scraps, stress, boredom, trapped moisture, dirty coat, and anal sac disease. Early detection and prompt treatment are key to managing hot spots effectively.

View: Pictures of common dog skin problems and conditions.