Hot spots (moist eczema) in dogs
Moist eczema is a description of a hot spot's appearance. Hot spots can occur quickly and then grow rapidly in size. Typically, moist eczema will have a mild clear discharge, the fur feels sticky and the skin becomes red, irritated and sometimes even swollen. Here you can learn more about moist eczema, and how it can be treated and prevented.
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
Did you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced, UK registered vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
✓ Included free as part of many pet insurance policies
✓ Help, treatment and if you need it, a referral to your local vet
✓ Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
The word moist eczema is a description of a hot spot's appearance. Hot spot can occur quickly and then grow rapidly in size. Typically, moist eczema will have a mild clear discharge, the fur feels sticky and the skin becomes red, irritated and sometimes even swollen. Here you can learn more about moist eczema, and how it can be treated and prevented.
Signs of a hot spot
- Patch of slight redness or irritation
- Itching, licking or nibbling at a specific place on the body
- Common places for hot spots: under the ears, cheeks, thighs, but hot spots can occur anywhere on the body
- Painful, hot, swollen patch of skin with clear discharge. The patch often grows quickly and there is a clear definition between hot spot and the surrounding healthy skin
Causes of a hot spot
In the summer, moist eczema (‘hot spots’) is common, especially in dogs with dense fur and those that are bathed frequently. Moist eczema often arises where a dog itches, for example on the cheek or thigh. The skin becomes irritated and develops into an ulcerated, red patch. The dog's normal bacterial skin flora grow excessively and spread quickly in a hot, humid environment. Hot spots grow rapidly and they are often extremely painful.
Common for a dog to itch or lick more than usual are: ear inflammation, anal gland inflammation, a tick bite, parasites (for example, lice, mites or fleas), or pain, amongst others. Dogs with allergies are also more likely to develop hot spots. If your dog has recurring hot spots, underlying conditions should be investigated.
What can I do to help my dog?
- Checking your dog’s skin daily, including the ears and area around the tail. Notice if your dog licks or itches one place more than usual
- Keep your dog’s coat clipped in the summer
- Try to prevent hot spots by taking time to dry your dog thoroughly after bathing
- Look for possible underlying conditions, such as those listed above
- Treatment at home: hot spots are very painful so be careful not to get bitten. Clip the fur around the hot spot; trim enough to give a wide margin of surrounding healthy skin. Gently wash it twice daily with dilute chlorhexidine (Hibiscrub) solution (1:20). Gently remove scabs and discharge, and pat it dry. Use a Buster collar, inflatable Buster collar or bodysuit to prevent your dog lick or scratching the site. Alternatively, use a sock on the paw that the dog uses to itch the most.
- Do not bandage a suspected hot spot as bacteria thrive in a humid environment and it can cause further aggravation
Treatment of a hot spot
If the dog’s hot spot is very sore, then a prompt visit to the vet will be required. Sedation may be given, therefore we recommended starving your dog for up to 12 hours before your appointment. After sedation and pain relief have been given, the surrounding fur will be clipped before cleansing the area. Systemic antibiotics and pain relief will often be prescribed by your vet to get the infection under control. A Buster collar or inflatable Buster collar may be needed, depending on the location of the hot spot. Your vet may also identify an underlying cause for the hot spot, for example ear disease ear or an anal gland problem, which will need to be treated as well.
Still have questions?
Book a video appointment to have a chat with one of our vets.