Moist Eczema in Dogs

Moist Eczema in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Moist Eczema?

You may notice your dog favoring a spot on his leg where he continuously licks, and licks, and licks.  You force him to stop but then he goes right back at it.  You take a closer look at the area and see a wet, red area where the fur is now completely missing.  This is known as moist eczema.  Many dogs develop a lesion like this at least once over their lifetime.  While it may look severe and irritated and you wonder how your dog did this to himself so quickly, it can be treated.  Each dog may have a different reason as to the cause but they all can be treated similarly.  While it is not a life threatening condition, it is better for you to seek veterinary treatment for it.  If you let it persist without proper treatment, a secondary bacterial infection can develop which will then require prescription medication for treatment.  If moist eczema is addressed properly, the prognosis of recovery is good.

Moist eczema, also known as a hot spot, can develop in any dog breed at any time within a matter of hours.  Most often seen on dogs with thick coats, other factors may cause the problem such as heat and primary conditions like flea bite sensitivity. It is best you seek medical attention as soon as possible as the condition can quickly develop a secondary bacterial or yeast infection.

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Symptoms of Moist Eczema in Dogs

Symptoms of moist eczema may include:

  • Persistent licking
  • Persistent chewing
  • Persistent scratching
  • Pruritus 
  • Alopecia 
  • Lesions that become red, exudative, swollen, erythematous, moist 

These lesions typically start out small but then get larger and worse with self trauma. The most commonly affected areas include:

  • Periaural
  • Dorsal region
  • Dorsolateral region
  • Lumbosacral region 


Moist eczema is also known as a hot spot, acute moist dermatitis, or pyotraumatic dermatitis.  You will often find your dog constantly and persistently licking the area in question which may be what caused it to begin with and will make it worse.  It is common to see the development of moist eczema in dogs where the weather is hot, especially if your dog has long fur or thick coat.  This condition is form of acute inflammation of the skin as well as exudation that can develop in a manner of hours.  Areas of moist eczema can develop anywhere on your dog’s body.

Causes of Moist Eczema in Dogs

There is almost always an underlying cause to this condition.  It is up to you and your veterinarian to figure out what started the persistent agitation to the area.  Typically, causes can include flea bite hypersensitivity, ectoparasites, food hypersensitivity, contact dermatitis, otitis externa, ocular disease, and even anal sac disease.  Pain can also be a cause of your dog’s moist eczema.  If your dog is experiencing pain in his “wrist” area, he may begin to lick at it.  He then continues to lick at it until it develops into a lesion and then he licks at it even more.

Diagnosis of Moist Eczema in Dogs

When you arrive at the veterinarian’s office, she will start her diagnostic process by collecting a verbal history from you.  She will want to know when you first noticed the lesion, if your dog has been displaying any of the typical symptoms associated with moist eczema development, and if you have tried to treat it with anything over the counter or not.  As part of her diagnostic process, your veterinarian will need to rule out other possible causes that can produce a lesion with similar symptoms like the one he is presenting with.  She will also want to know if you have fed him anything new lately, if he has had any changes in his routine or home that could cause stress, if he recently injured himself, or anything else information wise that may be helpful to know about his situation.  

Your veterinarian will then continue by performing a full physical exam on your dog.  While it may be obvious where the lesion is and the symptoms it is causing your dog, she will want to do a full evaluation of his entire body system.  This will allow her to check for other areas of inflammation of sensitivity that have not yet developed into moist eczema.  During her examination, she will watch for subtle signs of pain or causes of his persistent licking.  She will check for evidence of parasites, palpate his joints and muscles, and give him an overall evaluation.  Your veterinarian may want to clean the area of moist eczema to allow her a better look at the lesion.  Clipping the area will remove excess fur from the region which will remove some of the related irritation. 

In addition to diagnosing and treating the most eczema lesion, you will also need to investigate the cause of the initial licking sequence. During her examination, if she found evidence of fleas or other ectoparasites, she may explain why this may be causing his symptoms.  If he was sensitive in any of his joints or muscles, she may suspect pain as the cause.  Further diagnostics may be recommended depending on the suspected cause of your dog’s condition.

Treatment of Moist Eczema in Dogs

Ideally, the best treatment involves treating the lesion, breaking the itch cycle, and removing the underlying cause.  If you treat the lesion but do not break the lick cycle, your treatments will be useless.  You must stop the need to lick and scratch in order to break the cycle.  You must also address the underlying cause.  Your dog may stop licking for a while, but if there is an underlying cause, it is only a matter of time before he begins again.  

If this condition goes untreated, your dog may develop papules or pustules around the lesion.  This would need antibiotic therapy as it can be indicative of furunculosis and folliculitis, a slightly different type of moist eczema.  If this is the case with your dog, she will send you home with a prescription of an oral antibiotic.  Medications to be applied topically to the lesion may also be sent home depending on your dog’s needs.  

If ectoparasites are the cause of his symptoms, your veterinarian will suggest a type of flea prevention or other medication to take care of the parasites.  If pain is the cause of your dog’s initial licking symptoms, she may recommend pain medication to see if it will stop his licking and chewing.  In some cases, before sending you home with a pain medication, your veterinarian may suggest blood work to ensure your dog’s internal organ function is all within normal limits.  

Some clinics also have a cold laser that can be used as a form of treatment; this treatment is known as laser light therapy.  The light stimulates cell reproduction in the area you shine the laser light.  It also increases blood flow to the area to stimulate the region, it decreases inflammation, and it provides and analgesic effect.

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Recovery of Moist Eczema in Dogs

The severity of the lesion can develop quickly after initial breakthrough of the skin.  As soon as you notice your dog developing a lesion as described above, it would be a good idea to take him to his veterinarian.  Depending how persistent your dog is, his lesion can develop after only one day of licking.  The longer you wait to get it evaluated, the worse the lesion will become and therefore the longer it will take to completely heal.  By seeking treatment and receiving medications quickly, his prognosis of recovery is good.

Moist eczema can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog has eczema, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Embrace. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

Moist Eczema Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals





Two Years


6 found this helpful


6 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Fur Loss
Is this eczema her skin is flaky and dry I’ve tried using home remedies also coconut oil to soothe her skin Everytime someone pets her on the back she starts crying please help

Sept. 25, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

6 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. She needs medication to help with that problem, and without seeing her, I cannot say what might be causing that It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Black Labrador




3 Years


3 found this helpful


3 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Moist Areas About The Size Of A 10P
Our Black Lab has developed 3 'hot spots'/ moist eczema in the last couple of days...I have clipped the fur back as much as possible and bathe the affected areas with cooled, boiled water...anything else I can do to help,,of course if symptoms persist or worsen she will go to the vet..

June 1, 2018

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

3 Recommendations

Getting the hair off is a big part in helping those areas of infection for JosiePops. Washing the areas with an anti-bacterial soap may help, but I agree, if they are not getting better, she may need oral medications, and it would be best to have her seen.

June 1, 2018

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