By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – This time of year many dogs may be suffering from skin irritations known as hot spots, which are rarely seen in cats. This skin condition is also known as acute moist dermatitis. Hot spots are localized bacterial infections of the skin that cause a tremendous irritation, excessive itching and chewing of the localized area. These irritations can be extremely painful and severe.

Hot spots are caused by a variety of reasons most notably, allergies, fleas, diet and anything in the environment that potentially breaks or irritates the skin. This may cause a bacterial contamination if there is even a small amount of moisture on the skin.

You’ll see areas of hair loss, patches of redness and soreness on the skin that may even be oozing at times, or you may see patchy areas of scabbing and crusting on the skin.

If at all possible, remove the source first. Always keep your pets free from fleas and mites. If food allergies are the problem, this is the time to switch to a more natural and healthier diet, as this plays an important role to keep your dog healthy overall. The most effective way to treat hot spots is to see your vet right away to acquire the appropriate topical application and in many cases, antibiotics that may be needed to heal.