Treating Hot Spots on Dogs – Learn How

July 7, 2018 in Articles

So What, Exactly, Are Hot Spots?

Couple of Small Hot Spots on Face

If you have never heard of hot spots on dogs, I would like to explain what they are.  They are irritations of the skin and can actually arise suddenly. 

The dog’s skin becomes inflamed and sometimes the area will ooze.  These painful, red, hot sores cause discomfort for your dog and can recur over and over again. 

These hot spots can appear anywhere on the dog’s body and bacteria is usually the cause although there could be other underlying reasons. 

Typically, you will notice hot spots on your dog’s head, chest, or hip areas.  It is important to treat them as soon as you notice them.

Your vet will, most likely, use the scientific term and refer to this condition as “moist dermatitis,” which is the same thing as calling this skin condition “hot spots.”


Is it Possible to Treat My Dog at Home?

The answer is “Yes.”  You may have wondered about whether there is a way to treat hot spots in dogs.  Maybe you have decided that you would like to attempt treating this condition at home and that is just fine. 

There are ways of treating hot spots on dogs at home.  However, if you find that this skin condition is not being healed with natural, home remedies (or worsens), your best bet would then be to visit your local veterinarian.

Treating hot spots is not a very hard thing to do.  But if you wait and do not tend to the affected area/s of your dog’s body that need care, the small pinkish patch can turn into a huge, infected mess with oozing sores that cause your dog a lot of pain and possible infection. 

Treating a dog at home

Later, in this article, I will give various suggestions on ways to treat the hot spots on your dog with natural remedies that have absolutely no side effects.  I hope you will take a look and, perhaps, apply one or more of them to see which gives the best results for your dog.


What Causes Hot Spots?

There are several reasons as to why your dog may develop hot spots in the first place.  Hot spots can also be referred to as “acute moist dermatitis.”  Here are some reasons.

  • A flea bite or tick bite can cause a hot spot.
  • An allergic reaction from a food such as wheat or an environmental allergy can trigger a hot spot to form. 
  • Poor grooming habits.
  • Boredom or anxiety can cause dogs to lick or bite their paws excessively and this can become habitual.
  • A too-tight dog collar can cause irritation (from rubbing on your dog’s neck).  
  • Ear infections.
  • Dry skin from a deficiency of essential fatty acids in the diet can cause the dog to scratch or lick the skin.
  • Hormonal imbalances wherein their body produces too much cortisol (a hormone) can cause superficial skin infections to crop up. 
  • Moist skin is a breeding ground for hot spots. 

When a dog repeatedly licks, bites or scratches an area of the body, the skin becomes irritated and the bacteria in the saliva causes the hot spot to develop.  In doing this repeatedly, the skin can break and the saliva penetrates the skin and therefore the hot spot surfaces.

When irritation is present, the dog usually will continually lick or scratch that area and the bacteria will cause the “hot spot” to worsen.  A small, irritated area can quickly develop into a large one if left untreated in a very short period of time.  This area will become incredibly itchy and uncomfortable for your dog, and painful as well.

Recently, a friend of mine mentioned that her dog would not stop licking both of her paws.  My friend did not know if her dog was bitten by a pest or why her dog kept doing this.  Irritation did ensue for her dog.  I tried my best to help her dog heal from this.  What I suggested worked for Gina’s dog.  In this case, it was food allergies.


How Can I Treat My Dog’s Hot Spots?

  • Shave the area with dog hair clippers so it gets air and is not covered by fur; this allows quicker healing.
  • Cleanse the area with an astringent, i.e., Witch Hazel, Black Tea.
  • Make a cup of Black Tea (8 oz. cup).  When it has cooled a bit, apply the tea to the wound with a gauze pad. 
  • Pat dry the area or areas after cleansing them.
  • Apply an ointment such as Neosporin or a hydrocortisone spray.  

    Elizabethan Collar

  • Keep your dog from biting or licking the area (if necessary, put a plastic cone around her head)  
  • An “Elizabethan” Collar will prevent your dog from scratching and causing further harm.
  • Keep the affected area/s exposed to the air; do Not cover with gauze or bandage.
  • If you do not see an improvement within a few days, visit the vet.  You would not want your dog to experience discomfort and pain and also have the skin infection spread over a large area.



NATURAL Remedies to Treat Your Dog at Home:

  • Witch Hazel Pads (A Natural Astringent) – Can be used to treat the hot spot OR it can be used to cleanse the area prior to using another product.
  • Raw Apple Cider Vinegar  (NOTE: If the skin is broken or oozing, then give this Orally ONLY – See Below Video.)
  • Calendula Oil – Apply 3 drops of this oil to the affected area and massage, gently, with a cotton ball.  Do this twice daily until the hot spots have disappeared. (Be sure to dilute with a carrier oil, if necessary, and read directions before using.)
  • Lavender Oil – Apply 3 drops onto the hot spot and gently massage with a cotton ball until it is absorbed into the skin. Do this, twice daily, until the hot spots are gone. (Read directions as it may need to be diluted with a carrier oil.)
  • Black Tea (Do NOT use Herbal Teas) – steep in warm water for a few minutes.  Once it cools, place a tea bag on the hot spot for 4 minutes.  Do this 6 times a day until the hot spots are gone.
  • Try a NATURAL Anti-Itch Spray formulated to treat hot spots (Click on the image below).


  • Click on Image to Purchase or for More Details


Dr. Wendy shows you what a hot spot looks like on one of her patients in the below video:


How Can I Prevent Hot Spots from Occurring?

Here are some tips to help prevent hot spots from ever happening:

  • Keep your dog as stress-free as possible.
  • Bathe and groom your precious pet regularly.
  • Don’t allow your dog to become bored; interact with him or her and give bones that are safe to chew.
  • Seek the advice of a professional if any unusual symptoms occur.
  • If you have a dog with long, thick fur, consider trimming her coat.  A groomer can easily and safely do this!
  • When allergies are the culprit, then you would need to find out what thing/s are causing the hot spots.  If you are unable to determine the cause, then your vet may be able to assist you in finding out if food or environmental allergens are the problems for your dog.
  • Avoid your dog from getting flea bites.
  • Rinse your dog with apple cider vinegar which will keep fleas away from your pet and also keep his or her skin healthy.



Are There Signs and Symptoms?

Dog scratching his neck

Yes, there are signs and symptoms that will alert you to the fact that your dog is reacting to something that is causing discomfort.  It is not always easy for us to know what is bothersome to our loving pets, but sometimes there are things we can look for that will help give us a clue.

Have you noticed your dog licking a particular area of the body repeatedly, like his paws?  Or, scratching non-stop?  These may be tell-tale signs that a hot spot will surface very soon. 

Below are some things to look for regarding hot spots:

  1. Redness of the skin
  2. Continuous scratching and/or biting of the affected area
  3. Sensitivity to touch (that is an indication of pain)
  4. Non-stop licking of the area
  5. Loss of hair at the affected site
  6. Crustiness formed in the area from where the discharged oozed out



I’ve written this article to give pet parents information on ways to help their dogs in case a hot spot was to show up.  Some people are not aware but there are times when we can treat our pets at home with success.  I do not intend to have you use this (or any information on my site) as a replacement for medical veterinary advice or care.

My intention is to provide you with information to make an informed decision about how to treat hot spots on your dog.  The natural remedies I’ve listed in this article have worked well for many. 

If you have found any of the remedies that I recommended worked well, please let me know by leaving a comment.  I would love to know if your dog’s hot spots healed naturally at home!

I’m one happy dog!

It is best to treat this condition when you first notice the symptoms and signs (above noted) or any unusual behavior that your dog is displaying.  For most cases, hot spots can be treated and healed with natural methods IF they are attended to immediately and have consistent care until the issue is resolved. 

In the event that you observe the affected area not getting better within 4 to 6 days, it is best to seek the care of your personal vet.

I am certain that you love your pet very much and that is why you’ve come to my site and have read this article.  I thank you for this.  It is my hope to help you find the best way to help your dog who may be afflicted with this skin condition, in the event that this condition arises at some point in your dog’s life. 

As always, wishing you and your pet a lifetime of great health and happiness!!

Treating Hot Spots on Dogs – Learn How


    1. Luke says:

      Very informative article, thank you! I think all of us, at some point will have to deal with a ‘hot spot’ with one of our dogs. Nasty stuff!

      You certainly have given us a number of options (natural remedies) to treat these hot spots which I will definitely consider in the future.

      Thanks for sharing once again!


      • Cathy says:

        Hello Luke,

        Thank you for the visit and commenting on my post about hot spots on dogs!

        Yes, they are nasty and very uncomfortable for our precious dogs. Glad that you will consider one of the remedies I’ve mentioned, just in case.

        Hope you will visit again in the future.


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Treating Hot Spots on Dogs – Learn How

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