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Pictures of Hot Spots on Dogs (Moist Dermatitis)

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collage of pictures showing hot spots on dogs

Ouch! Is your dog experiencing hot spot pain? Because hot spots are one of the most common skin conditions in dogs, it is important to know how to treat these nasty sores. Our ‘Senior Tail Waggers’ veterinarian team is here to help!

Hot spots, technically known as acute moist dermatitis, are red, inflamed areas of skin that can seem to appear overnight. In this post, we will review 6 high-resolution pictures of hot spots on dogs, including close-ups and pictures of common areas where hot spots often appear.

What Do Hot Spots Look Like on Dogs?

These spots may occur anywhere on a dog but are most common behind and under the ear, legs, and on the hips. The area will be moist and typically have some purulent oozing. Often there is matted fur covering and hiding the hot spot.

Pictures of Hot Spots on Dogs

Seeing an oozing sore on your dog’s face, head, limbs, belly, etc. can be deeply unsettling. And chances are, you will smell it too. Yuck.

A hot spot is essentially an area of a dog’s skin that has become inflamed and/or has a bacterial infection. Picture a raw and wet scab, as showcased on the picture below.

dog licking area near a hot spot

Below is a picture of a hot spot on a dog’s tail:

Close-up Pictures of Hot Spots on a Dog

As you can see on the pictures below, hot spots are often:

  • red
  • inflamed
  • with a moist appearance

They also often seem to appear overnight

Let’s look at several close-up pictures:

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

Pictures of Common Locations Where Hot Spots Frequently Appear

Hot spots often appear behind and under the ear:

Hot spot on dog's neck

or on legs and paws:

What Causes Hot Spots?

If your dog comes down with a case of hot spots, don’t feel bad. It’s not necessarily a sign you failed to keep them healthy. Hot spots occur for all sorts of reasons, including the following:


WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]


  • Allergies
  • Fleas
  • Minor skin scraps and cuts
  • Stress / Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Fear
  • Trapped moisture (like after swimming or bath time)
  • Dirty coat
  • Anal sac disease

What happens is this. Initially, your dog feels “off” somewhere on their body. Maybe it is due to an underlying cause or maybe because they picked up parasites somewhere, got a scratch while running in the woods, roughhousing with the neighbors pooches, etc. Later, they lick and chew at the spot. This makes it moist and inflamed and…uh oh! Unfortunately, a bacterial infection is born.  

Is My Dog in Pain?

There is good news. Hot spots are relatively benign and will not put your dog’s life at risk. However, they can make your dog’s life absolutely miserable. As explained above, they are caused by retained moisture in the hair or irritants against the skin. Dogs successfully recover from hot spots all the time. It just takes the right treatment.

Prognosis and Treatment of Hot Spots (Overview)

More likely to occur in the summer months, hot spots cause biting, itching, and scratching and require immediate attention to prevent them from a) getting worse and b) spreading.

First and foremost, be gentle. Hot spots are painful. The afflicted skin area will need to be clipped and cleaned. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories are used to treat infections and remove the itch. These may be applied topically or orally.

Above all, a hot spot needs to stay:

  1. Dry
  2. Clean

This means NO licking!

So, as annoying as your dog may find it, a plastic cone or Elizabethan collar will likely have to be worn, at least until the hot spot begins to heal. Infections can range from mild to severe. Therefore, getting advice from your veterinarian is always recommended. Still, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine points out that oftentimes, these sores can be treated at home. Many clear up in 3 – 7 days.

Veterinarian Treatment

Treatment consists of shaving the hair from around the edges and on the hot spot. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories to treat any potential infection (if present) and remove the itch. These may be applied topically or orally. The hot spot will also need to be clipped and cleaned.

The most important part of treatment is addressing the underlying cause, as the dog will get more hot spots if this cause is not addressed. Causes are varied and include fleas, allergies, and other infections, such as ear infections. Almost anything that causes a dog to scratch can result in a hot spot. Costs of treatment will depend on the underlying cause but average between $150-$500.


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How to prevent hot spots? 5 Suggestions

As with most canine medical conditions, curing a hot spot is more difficult than preventing one. Ideally, we want to avoid hot spots in the first place. Here are five easy steps to follow to prevent hot spots.

Practice Good Doggy Hygiene: Does your pooch love to roll around in the mud? Tangled hair? Dirt trapped in the coat? Implement a strict bath time and grooming routine to minimize skin irritants.

Avoid Products that Trigger Allergies: Did you know? A whopping 20% of all dogs will have allergies over their lifetime. Dogs who are allergic to foods (such as dairy, wheat, beef, egg, etc.) can feel very itchy indeed. Read the label and don’t buy foods or treats that trigger a scratchy allergic reaction.

Say Goodbye to Boredom: Some dogs lick nonstop because they are bored. Just like how us humans bite our fingernails or tap our feet, dogs lick. Lack of mental stimulation can result in wet, raw, exposed skin that turns into…yes, you guess it…a hot spot.

Exercise, games, training, puzzles, and toys can all help with dog boredom.

Feed Supplementary Fatty Acids: Fish oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It’s full of Omega-3 fatty acids. Building a strong skin barrier is key to preventing hot spots, and daily vitamin with fish oil could work wonders.

Consider Flea and Tick Medication: Lastly, if your dog is forever bringing home fleas and ticks from the dog park, campground, boarding facility, and so on, ask your vet about preventative medication. Those itchy little fleas can go live somewhere else!

There you have it.

A guide to treating and preventing hot spots on dogs. For more tips and tricks to keep your four-legged best friend happy, healthy, and hot spot-free, follow along at Senior Tail Waggers.

View: Pictures of common dog skin problems and conditions.

Author

  • Jason is a pet specialized writer who works with our veterinarian team (https://seniortailwaggers.com/meet-our-team/) to write in-depth articles about pet health and behaviors.

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Disclaimer: This website's content is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action. Read More.

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