How To Treat Dog Hot Spots At Home

What Is Hot Spot On Dog?

Hot spot on a dog is an inflammatory skin lesion that occurs due to excessive scratching, biting, chewing and licking of an area of the body. The self-inflicted trauma damages the skin and resulting in an open, oozy wound. Due to inflammation, the wound area becomes warm, hence the term “hot spot”.

In medical terms, it is known as acute moist dermatitis or pyrotraumatic dermatitis.

What Causes Hot Spots On Dogs?

Hot spots on dogs are often a sign of an underlying problem.

Anything that makes your dog itch will cause him to scratch, bite, chew and lick the affected area of the body.

The itchiness or irritation may be caused by:

  • fleas and ticks
  • mites
  • hot and humid weather
  • allergies – environmental  or food/treats
  • ear infections
  • anal gland disease
  • poor grooming
  • dense hair coat
  • matted hair
  • osteopathies and neuropathy (hip dysplasia, arthritis, degenerative joint disease, sciatica or nerve entrapment)
  • behavioural issues -boredom, stress or anxiety

Signs Of Hot Spots On Dogs

  • Lesions that are moist, oozy, inflamed, pink/red in colour, with hair loss. These are very painful and itchy. There may be pus caused by secondary infection.
  • They can appear on any parts of the body, but are more common on the head, hip and side of the body.
  • They form in patches and can increase in size very quickly (within just hours!).

Hot spots should be treated immediately to prevent them from getting worse and developing a secondary infection due to your dog’s incessant licking, biting and scratching.

The treatment for hot spots on dogs is 2-fold:

  • treating lesions
  • identifying and treating/eliminating any underlying cause

home remedies for hot spots in dogs
(Photo: Maja Dumat)

Dog Hot Spots Home Treatment

The 4 key steps to treating your dog hot spots at home are:

  1. Trim hair
  2. Clean the hot spot area
  3. Apply topical solution
  4. Stop the self-trauma

Remember, hot spots on your dog can be very uncomfortable and painful. Before treating it, you may want to give him some Bach Rescue Remedy Pet to calm him down. You can squirt 4 drops into your dog’s mouth, add them to his food or drinking water or rub them on his gum, ears or paws. Wait 30 minutes before treating the hot spot.

1. Trim Hair

Start by trimming the hair on and surrounding the hot spot with a pair of clippers or scissors. This is to prevent the hair from covering the wound so that it can dry properly and heal faster. In addition, it’s also easier to clean and treat the hot spot.


2. Clean The Hot Spot Area

Then, clean the wound with a mild antiseptic solution such as chlorhexidine or Vetericyn Plus Wound & Skin Care Liquid with a gauze or soft washcloth. Pat dry.

3. Apply Topical Solution

After the wound is clean and dry, apply a topical solution such as Vetericyn Plus Hot Spot Spray.

4. Stop The Self-Trauma

The constant licking of a sore/itchy spot causes more itching, which leads to more licking, scratching and biting. It is imperative to stop this self-trauma to prevent the wound from getting bigger and infected.

You may have to put an Elizabethan collar (E-collar or cone) on your dog to stop the self-mutilation (licking, scratching, chewing and biting). Depending on the location of the wound, you can cover it with a bandage, stockinette or t-shirt but make sure that your dog does remove it.

Vetericyn Plus Hot Spot Spray

Vetericyn Plus Hot Spot Spray, dog hot spot remedy, home remedies for hot spots in dogs

Vetericyn Plus Hot Spot Spray
(Click on image for more info)

Personally, I use Vetericyn Plus Hot Spot Spray on my dog whenever she develops hot spots. It is effective in drying and healing lesions quickly, without irritation or stinging.

This is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral topical solution for treating hot spots, skin infections and open wounds. It does not contain antibiotic and steroid. You don’t need to worry about your dog licking or ingesting it as it is safe and non-toxic.

Vetericyn Plus Hot Spot Spray works in the same way as your dog’s immune system and does not cause adverse effects. It treats inflammation and increases oxygen at the wound site, thereby speeding healing time.

Occasionally, she gets rashes on her belly. I apply Vetericyn Plus Antimicrobial Hydrogel on them and they clear up fast.

I keep Vetericyn products on hand in case she develops hot spots or other skin problems. As a pet parent, you should do the same too. The faster you care for the wound, the less tissue is damaged.

I like the ease and convenience of using Vetericyn Plus Hot Spot Spray to treat my dog hot spots at home. If you prefer topical home remedies, check out the list below.


Topical Home Remedies For Hot Spots On Dogs

  • Black Tea Bag Compress

Black tea contains tannins that stop an infection, dry up the area and help it to heal.

Place a black tea bag in a cup of hot water for 3 minutes. Remove the tea bag from the water and let it cool. Apply it on the hot spots with gauze for 5 minutes. Repeat this step 3-4 times daily until the hot spots dry up, which may take a few days.

  • Calendula

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a member of the Asteraceae/Compositae – a large family of flowering plants. It is commonly known as marigold and has been used in traditional medicine since the 12th century.

Pet Wellbeing Itchy Owie Quick-Dry Gel for Dogs' Skin, calendula for dog hot spots

Itchy Owie
(Click on image for more info)

Calendula extract has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, analgesic and wound healing properties. When used topically, it aids the wound to heal (fast) and soothes inflammatory skin lesions.

Calendula is available in the form of gel, tincture, oil, cream, ointment, salve, tea and powder. Avoid using a calendula tincture with alcohol as it can sting or cause irritation. Calendula is safe for dogs, even when ingested.

Pet Wellbeing Itchy Owie Quick-Dry Gel for Dogs’ Skin is a topical gel containing calendula flower extract and other ingredients such as plantain leaf, marshmallow root, liquorice root, aloe vera and vitamin E.It is designed for any kind of lesion, hot spot, cut, bite, sting or wound.

  • Aloe Vera

Aloe vera can help to reduce inflammation and promote wound healing. Consider using a commercial topical aloe vera gel instead of fresh aloe vera gel straight from the plant. The yellow aloe vera latex can cause skin irritation and rashes. In commercial aloe vera products, the latex and other toxic substances are removed in.

  • Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver consists of tiny silver particles suspended in a liquid. It possesses anti-microbial properties and has a  broad spectrum of activity against microorganisms. It may promote wound healing by preventing and treating infection and calming inflammation.

What Is Safe For Humans Is Not Always Safe For Dogs

When treating hot spots at home, pet owners may unknowingly use human medicines or products that are harmful to their dogs. Here are some frequently asked questions on whether some remedies are safe/good/helpful for dogs…

  • Is apple cider vinegar good for dog hot spots?

Although apple cider vinegar is an anti-microbial, it should not be applied on an open, raw wound. The acidity can burn, sting and damage sensitive skin tissue. This causes more discomfort to a dog that is already in pain.

  • Can I use tea tree oil on my dog’s hot spot?

While tea tree oil can be helpful for some people, it is potentially toxic to dogs (and definitely, to cats!). It can sting and burn when applied to an open, raw wound, So, tea tree oil is not recommended as a home remedy for dog hot spots.

  • Can I use hydrogen peroxide on my dog’s hot spot?

Hydrogen peroxide does kill some bacteria but at the risk of damaging healthy skin cells such as fibroblasts that are crucial for proper wound healing. In other words, it does not help to heal a wound or a dog’s hot spot! There are other wound cleansing options that do not harm healthy skin cells.

While there are many uses for hydrogen peroxide, it is not good on wounds. If you still have a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in your medicine cabinet, use it for home cleaning instead.

  • Can I use Listerine on dog hot spots?

Listerine is a mouthwash and is not designed to be used on dog skin or dog hot spots. It has not been tested for treating a skin problem in humans or animals without harm. Listerine contains alcohol and other ingredients that can irritate the skin and slow wound healing.

  • Can I put Neosporin on a dog’s hot spot?

Neosporin is a triple-antibiotic ointment/cream that comprises bacitracin, neomycin and polymyxin. While Neosporin may work well for you, the manufacturer does not recommend it for use on animals.

Neosporin products are topical medications for humans and its safety for animal use has not been tested. When applied topically onto the skin, your dog may instinctively lick it off.

Make sure you use products that are designed specifically for dogs and safe, even if ingested.

  • Does coconut oil help with hot spots on dogs?

Some people have touted coconut oil as a wonderful moisturiser for skin and hair. One study showed virgin coconut oil to be as effective and safe as mineral oil as a therapeutic moisturiser for mild to moderate skin dryness.

Coconut oil should not be used on dog hot spots. Remember, hot spots need to be kept dry to accelerate healing. Topical application of coconut oil on hot spots does quite the opposite – it keeps them moist!

  • Can I give my dog Benadryl for hot spots? Does Benadryl help with dog hot spots?

Diphenhydramine (brand name: Benadryl) is an antihistamine that is used to treat inflammatory and allergic conditions such as bee stings, hives, snack bites and vaccine/blood transfusion reactions. Although Benadryl is commonly prescribed for itchy skin in allergenic skin disease. it is not helpful in reducing itchiness. It causes drowsiness (side effect) which may help to reduce scratching.

While you can give Benadryl to your dog for hot spots, its effectiveness is questionable. It may reduce allergic reactions but is not a cure for allergies that trigger hot spots.

Benadryl should only be used under veterinarian guidance. There are several Benadryl products, some of which contain a combination of diphenhydramine and other ingredients/drugs (Tylenol or Sudafed) that may be toxic to your dog.

How To Prevent Hot Spots On Dogs

The key to preventing hot spot in your dog is identifying the underlying cause. Failure to do so will only lead to recurrences.

  •  Allergies

Flea bite allergy or flea contact dermatitis is the most common cause of hot spots in dogs. Use a flea comb to check for fleas and flea dirt on a regular basis. For non-toxic flea control on your dog, see  –>  How to get rid of fleas without chemicals and pesticides

Environmental allergies can be due to grasses, pollen, mould, dust, dirty water or polluted air. You’ll have to observe and figure out which allergens are causing your dog hot spot. Blood and intradermal skin testing may help to identify potential allergens and the allergy can be stopped with hyposensitization therapy.

Frequent vacuuming and using an air filter can keep dust mites at bay. A dehumidifier may help in reducing pollen and mould spores in the air. Regular bathing washes off pollens and other contact allergens.

Food allergies are due to certain proteins (beef, chicken, chicken egg and dairy) or grains (corn, wheat and soy). Dry food is often the culprit as it contains by-products such as preservatives and stabiliser. An elimination diet trial is the only way to determine a food allergy.

See: How to do an elimination diet trial for food allergies

  • Anal gland disease

When anal glands are impacted or infected , the pain and irritation can trigger your dog to lick the rectum area and cause a hot spot. Your veterinarian can express the impacted glands or treat infected glands with surgery and antibiotics.

  • Grooming

Medium- and long-haired dogs need more regular (every 1-2 days) brushing and combing than short-haired dogs in order to prevent mats from forming. A matt can trap moisture and bacteria and prevents the skin underneath it from breathing. Hot spots can develop under mats.

Get your dog professionally groomed if you are not capable of doing it yourself.

  • Proper Drying

It is paramount to dry your dog properly after a bath, swim or when he gets wet. Moisture, dirt and debris trapped in the undercoat create an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast to grow.

  • Orthopaedic And Nerve Disorders

If your dog has with a nerve or bone problem such as arthritis, joint disease, bone pain, nerve entrapment or sciatica, he may lick the affected painful area resulting in the formation of a hot spot. consult with a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment of osteopathy or neuropathy.

  • Behavioural Issues

Boredom, stress or separation anxiety can trigger your dog to obsessively lick and chew a certain part of the body. These can be overcome with behaviour modification or increasing daily exercise, playtime or enrichment.

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