One of the most common summertime skin problems that can occur in dogs is “hot spots.” The medical name for this condition is acute moist dermatitis. “Hot spots” usually occur suddenly and become large, red, irritated sores in a very short period of time. The most common areas affected are under the ears, on the neck and over the hips and back, but they can occur just about anywhere on the body.
“Hot spots” are the result of intense chewing and licking. The inciting cause is usually an insect bite reaction or a scratch that breaks the skin. Fleas, ticks, biting flies and even mosquitoes have been known to cause acute moist dermatitis. Allergic skin disease can also cause or contribute to the formation of “hot spots.”
The underlying cause should be identified and treated, if possible. Flea and tick preventives should be applied at the time of treatment. Anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics are often used to relieve the intense itching and to combat secondary skin infection. These may be injectable drugs, oral antibiotics and or topical preparations. The area is usually clipped and cleaned to facilitate applying any sprays or ointments to the affected area.
Swimming and bathing should be avoided because this condition is spread by moisture. In most cases the dog is his or her worst enemy because of the severe itching and scratching makes the “hot spot” worse.
Unfortunately, dogs that have had an episode of “hot spots” are prone to recurrence. Insect control and proper grooming are the best defense against future “hot spots.” Your veterinarian should be consulted to prescribe the proper treatments if acute moist dermatitis is discovered.