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Acute Moist Dermatitis In Dogs

Acute moist dermatitis is also commonly referred to as “hot spots,” and they can potentially develop on any part of the body. They generally appear as patches that can vary from one to four inches across, and are most commonly found around the area of the neck, and around the ears. Hot spots can be painful, and are often characterised by an unpleasant smelling discharge that is yellowish in colour.

If your dog has been diagnosed with acute moist dermatitis or hot spots, or you are wondering about the condition and if you should be concerned, in this article we will look at some of the common causes of the condition, and what can be done to treat it. Read on to learn more.

What causes acute moist dermatitis in dogs?

Dogs that have very thick or long fur are those most likely to develop acute moist dermatitis, as the thickness or sheer volume of their hair tends to trap moisture. If your dog’s coat is in poor condition, particularly if it is knotted or matted up, your dog is also exponentially more likely to develop acute moist dermatitis in the areas that are in poor condition.

Aside from these environmental factors, acute moist dermatitis can be caused by a range of different factors, including:

  • Burrs becoming trapped in the coat
  • Flea infestation
  • Allergies
  • Insect bites
  • Not drying your dog thoroughly after a walk or a bath
  • A moist or damp collar being left on
  • A coat in poor condition that is allowed to trap hair and develop matting

The hotter months of the year are the main pinch point for development of acute moist dermatitis, as the warmth in combination with humidity or moisture on the coat can allow hot spots to develop.

Diagnosis and treatment for acute moist dermatitis

If your dog has developed a patch of skin that sounds as if it may be acute moist dermatitis, your vet will examine the area and possibly take a skin scraping to rule out the possibility of a yeast infection or fungal infection. Hot spots can be painful for dogs, and some dogs that do not react well to investigation may need to be sedated in order to check out the area properly!

Once acute moist dermatitis has been diagnosed, the area will need clipping to remove the surrounding fur, and regular cleaning with a product such as Chlorohexidine or Betadine to clear up the area. Your dog may also be prescribed antibiotics to help with infection, and potentially, corticosteroids to promote healing.

How to prevent acute moist dermatitis or nip an early attack in the bud

While you may not always be able to prevent your dog from developing acute moist dermatitis if they are prone to it, there are a range of ways in which you can minimise the chances of your dog suffering from a flare up, or deal with a minor hot spot at home.

  • Keep your dog’s coat in good condition, and ensure that they are groomed regularly and do not develop matts in their fur.
  • If your dog has a long, thick or heavy coat and is prone to acute moist dermatitis, keeping their coat trimmed or clipped can help to prevent flare ups.
  • Ensure that your dog is always dried thoroughly if they get wet when out walking, or if you give them a bath.
  • Never put or leave a wet or damp collar on your dog, as this can lead to flare ups.
  • Disinfect any hot spots, sore areas or potential pressure points that might turn into acute moist dermatitis with Chlorhexidine or Betadine to promote cleanliness and healing.
  • Do not let your dog scratch, lick or interfere with any hot spots; this may mean that you need to use a buster collar to protect the area, or otherwise cover it.
  • Topical solutions such as antioxidant rich green tea (cold, not hot!) or aloe vera cream can help to relieve irritation and sooth the area.
  • Vitamin E creams, topical solutions or liquid capsules applied gently to the area in question can help to promote healing.

If you have not seen a hot spot on your dog before, always take your dog to the vet for a formal diagnosis, and to ensure that you are not confusing the condition with something else. If you are treating the condition at home, you should expect to see relief and improvement after a few days of starting treatment of any variety, and if you do not, again speak to your vet to ensure that you are doing everything right.

While you can usually effectively treat the physical presence of hot spots, it is important to try to suss out why they are developing on your dog in the first place; underlying issues such as allergic reactions or flea infestation that can lead to hot spots all need to be addressed in order to prevent recurrences.


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