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Canine Hotspots

For a deeper dive into these pesky red patches, see our Ultimate Hotspot Guide.

Remember, we always recommend consulting with your vet for any of your dog's health concerns.

Hotspot with fur loss on back of head of blonde French bulldog

What is a Hotspot?

Hotspots, also called acute moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis, are red, inflamed, often shiny patches of skin. Thinning or loss of fur are common in and around the spot.

These raw, red areas are extremely itchy and can be very painful. They are most commonly found around the head, neck, hips, groin, and tail.

Drawing of basset hound dressed as Sherlock Holmes with magnifying glass in mouth

Key Identifiers of Hotspots

  • Red and inflamed area of skin or sores
  • Skin appears to be raw and ‘angry’
  • Pus, blood, or discharge may be present
  • Fur around the area may be matted or missing
  • Scabbing in and around the area
  • Excessive licking and scratching at the area
  • Your dog seems to be painful around this area
Bright red hot spot on head of Golden Retriever

What Causes Hotspots?

Hotspots are created (and made worse) by a dog’s constant licking, biting, rubbing, and or scratching at an itchy area. They can appear and set in quickly - many people remark that they seem to "appear overnight."

The initial irritation could come from allergies (seasonal or food-related), fleas, insect bites, bee stings, scrapes, razor burn, moisture trapped under the fur, or persistent rubbing from a collar or harness. The broken and damaged skin also invites microbes that can cause infections and make the issue harder to treat.

Breeds Commonly Affected by Hotspots

Hotspots can happen to any breed of dog, but they tend to be more prevalent in breeds with thicker coats or skin folds, such as:

  • Drawing of pitbull dog wearing aviator sunglasses and lavender bandanna


  • Golden Retrievers

  • Drawing of English bulldog wearing lavender collar and propellor hat

    English Bulldogs

  • Illustration of German Shepherd wearing sunglasses and lavender tie

    German Shepherds

  • Illustration of French bulldog wearing lavender hoodie


  • Labradors

  • Drawing of a Siberian Husky wearing a lavender bow tie


  • Illustration of happy Akita dog with lavender collar


  • Drawing of Rottweiler wearing lavender tiara and collar


Hotspot rash with thinning fur on back of brindle-coated dog

How Do I Prevent Hotspots?

Here are a few things you can do to keep acute moist dermatitis at bay:

  • Keep your dog's fur well-groomed and, if needed, trimmed.
  • Make sure your dog is completely dry after a bath or being wet to prevent trapped moisture.
  • Make sure collars and harnesses aren’t too tight and allow appropriate air flow.
  • Keep them on a flea/heartworm prevention medicine, even during the cold months.
  • If your dog has seasonal or environmental allergies, see your vet about an oral antihistamine regimen.
  • Disallow them from agitating a specific spot; this may require booties, a cone, and a topical product like Lavengel.
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    Gently Clean + Dry

    Carefully clean the area with a mild soap and pat dry with a soft towel. You may need to trim excess fur in or around the area.

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    Apply Lavengel

    Lightly massage the ointment onto the area 2-3 times daily. Because it’s concentrated, A Dot on the Spot® is all you need.

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    Distract Your Pup

    Use a treat or toy to keep your dog from licking the gel for a moment so it can absorb. A bandage may also be advisable.

Hotspot Healing Success Stories

You can see the full write-up of these and other testimonials on our Stories page.

  • Before and after images of Lavengel healing extensive hotspot rash on back and tail of rescue dog
  • Before and after images of Lavengel healing hotspot on groin of Siberian Husky
  • Before and after images of Lavengel healing heat rash on back and tail of rescue mutt