ACUTE MOIST DERMATITIS (HOT SPOTS) IN DOGS
Acute moist dermatitis is one of the most common canine skin disorders. Also referred to as hot spots, it appears as an intensely itchy, painful and swollen patch of skin that is warm to the touch. Hair loss in the affected area is common. The skin develops a plaque-like appearance that may weep. The infection progresses as the dog licks and chews the area, which becomes moist with pus and gives off a foul odor.
Hot spots appear as a secondary infection caused by self-induced trauma. They can be found anywhere on the body, and frequently in more than one spot. While some breeds are more prone to hot spots than others, especially those with heavy, hairy ears or coats, any breed of dog is susceptible to developing the infection. Golden Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Rottweilers, German Shepherd Dogs, and Labrador Retrievers are the most susceptible to hot spots, which may occur during the shedding cycle when moist, dead hair is trapped against the skin. Other underlying causes include fleas, mites, or other skin parasites. Skin allergies, food allergies, allergies to flea bites, and other skin irritants may also lead to scratching and trauma. Ear or anal gland infections or a lack of grooming may also be responsible for hot spot infections. Hot, humid weather may worsen the condition. The affected area is often so intensely itchy that skin damage may occur in a matter of hours.
Since hot spots can be very painful, the dog will usually be anesthetized or sedated to allow the veterinarian to clip away the hair and examine the skin. The skin may be scraped to test for yeast or bacterial infections. Once the area is exposed, the skin will be cleaned with a chlorhexidine or diluted povidone iodine shampoo, followed by the application of an antibiotic cream or powder. Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed. The dog may also be given oral corticosteroids to control itching and be required to wear a cone collar to prevent further damage. In addition to treating the hot spots, the underlying condition must also be identified and treated to prevent reinfection.