Dog Hot Spots: Everything You Need to Know

Dog Hot Spots: Everything You Need to Know

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 20.02.2020

When it comes to your four-legged fur child, we know you’ll do almost anything to ensure they’re living their best life. You try and stay up to date on the latest trends and advancements in natural and holistic health. You make sure they’re fed the best diet to live a healthy life. Not to mention, the full basket of chew toys too. Thus, when problems come up (whether we expect them or not), we get that it can be extremely frustrating. You’re doing everything in your power to keep your dog healthy, so what happened? 

Hot spots are a common issue that has many paw parents scratching their heads in concern. The irritating and painful sores can seem to appear magically overnight and without any signs or symptoms prior, leaving paw parents frantically wondering what to do next. 

But don’t fret, you’re definitely not alone. In today’s article, we’ll talk about all you need to know about doggy hot spots, what causes them, how to go about treating them, and how you can help prevent them. We understand you want to get rid of the hot spots pronto, so let’s dive in!


What Are Hot Spots

First and foremost, the basics of basics. Hot spots are one of the most frustrating skin issues that your dog can endure. Medically, hot spots are referred to as acute moist dermatitis, but known by most - hot spots. 

These sores develop on the surface of fido’s skin and can quickly become painful, raw lesions. Hot spots can develop just about anywhere on your dog’s body, but are most commonly seen on the neck, head, or hip area. 

Interestingly enough, hot spots aren’t considered to be dangerous to your pup’s health. What is? Well the red, irritated, oozing lesions can cause your pup severe pain. If these hot spots are not resolved, they can lead to bacterial infections and possible skin damage. Yikes. 

Hot Spots on Dogs: The Root of the Cause

In order to prevent an issue from happening again, a paw parent must first understand what caused the issue to arise in the first place. Same goes for figuring out hot spots. 


Dog hot spots can be caused by the following:


  • Dry skin
  • Dandruff
  • Anal gland disease
  • Surface scratches
  • Underlying skin infections
  • Allergic reactions
  • Over-grooming
  • Excessive licking 


      Not to mention, most dog hot spots are self-inflicted. These occur when your dog bites, itches, licks, and gnaws on their skin excessively, leading to raw skin and a very moist scab. Many times, the cause of the obsessive licking or itching could be simply due to a flea or insect bite. 

      The frustration part for paw parents starts when the pain and discomfort begin during your pup’s healing process. Once a scab begins to form, the itching sensation increases, thus, your pup quickly begins biting, licking, and scratching the area even more intensely than before. 

      Speaking of underlying issues, the following conditions may lead to similar signs of hot spots:

      • Demodicosis 
      • Injection site reactions
      • Skin conditions
      • Scabies 


      The Physical Signs of Hot Spots

      So how can you detect them before it’s too late? This can be difficult, but knowing the early signs and symptoms can make a major difference in just how quickly the skin issue can be resolved. 


      1. Constant Licking

      Even before you suspect a hot spot on your pup, you may notice that he or she is paying much more attention to the affected area. Your dog may be licking, itching, and biting one certain area intensely. This is where you intervene and identify if a hot spot may be developing. You go paw parent!


      2. Red Spots on Skin

      Hot spots typically begin as just a red spot on your dog’s skin. By the time you see the hot spot on your pup, it’s usually already the size of a quarter, roughly. 


      3. Moist Skin

      Because of the constant licking and biting, you’ll see that your pup’s surrounding fur and skin is extremely moist, so moist that you’ll be able to see a significant difference in your pup’s fur. 


      4. Warm to Touch

      Hot spots got their name because of being generally warm to the touch. Once a hotspot has progressed, it’s difficult for you to touch the wound without causing your pup a lot of pain. 


      Non-Specific Signs of Hot Spots

      There are many non-specific signs that may occur with a laundry list of other conditions. 

      Look for the following signs:

      • Whining, crying out, wincing
      • Excessive skin itching
      • Scaly skin surround the sore area
      • Sores that are scabbing or filled with pus
      • Matted fur
      • Wet fur
      • Fur with strong odor
      • Persistent chewing, itching, licking, grooming
      • Decreased appetite
      • Hair loss
      • Fever
      • Lethargy
      • Change in behavior


      Dogs Who Are at High Risk For Hot Spots

      I’m sure you are wondering if your pup is at a higher risk for developing hot spots or not. Even though hot spots can affect just about any dog, certain breeds are more prone to them than others. Studies have shown that dogs who spend more time in water are at a higher risk for developing hot spots. Also, dogs with hip dysplasia are at a higher risk, as they tend to lick the painful areas on the skin. Long-haired breeds are also prone to hot spots. 

      These breeds tend to be at a higher risk of developing hot spots:




      • Rottweilers
      • St. Bernards
      • Labrador Retrievers
      • Golden Retrievers
      • German Shepherds




      Don’t freak! Just because you have one of these breeds doesn’t necessarily mean that they will develop hot spots. 


      Are Hot Spots Contagious

      Yes and no. Hot spots aren’t necessarily contagious. However, the underlying cause that led to the development of that hot spot may be what’s contagious. Again, it’s important for paw parents to get to the root of the hot spot cause to make sure all of your pups stay free of hot spots. 


      Hot Spots: The Treatment

      Catching a hot spot early on = key. Once the hot spot becomes large and develops further, treatment may involve a trip to the vet and prescription medication. 

      Topical Medications

      One of the most common treatments for hot spots is some form of a topical medication. Of course, check with your vet first before applying any medications or treatments to your pup. 

      Topical treatments include any one or combination of the following:


      Topical antibiotic ointments

      Cooling treatments

      Topical parasite treatments

      Topical drying sprays

      Hydrocortisone sprays and creams


      Oral Medications

      Depending on the severity of the hot spot(s), your vet may prescribe an oral option for treatment. Commonly prescribed oral medications are:




      Anti-Parasitic Medication


      Pain Medications 

      Cortisone Tablets




      The Cone 

      As much as your fur child may absolutely hat this thing, it might become necessary to help heal the hot spots fully. Unfortunately, most doggos won’t understand why they have to wear this thing around their neck. 

      Keeping the cone in place is key to making sure your dog is unable to bite or lick the wound. The more you can avoid your dog from licking the hot spot, the more you can help the healing process. 


      Hot Spot Natural Remedies

      If you catch those hot spots early on, you may be able to treat them naturally, in the comfort of your own home. Well, as long as it hasn’t developed into a full-blown hot spot.


      Oatmeal Baths

      You can give your pup an oatmeal bath everyday until the hot spot subsides. Experts recommend giving your dog an oatmeal bath in the evening, so the effects can continue overnight.

      Apple Cider Vinegar

      If you dilute the apple cider vinegar in warm water, you can spray it directly onto the hot spot 2 - 4 times a day. Many paw parents have seen great results with this apple cider vinegar concoction. 

      Tea Tree Oil

      Essential oils, tea tree oil in particular, are effective in combating various issues, including hot spots. Tea tree oil has antiviral, antiseptic, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, when applied topically, it can effectively treat the hot spot. BINGO. 



      Coconut Oil

      Coconut oil has powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties, making it safe and effective to help alleviate skin problems. 

      How to Prevent Hot Spots 

      Once you’ve treated hot spots on your dog, you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

      Here’s five quick tips to help you in preventing dog hot spots: 


      1. Mental and Physical Stimulation

      Make sure you provide your dog with plenty of mental and physical stimulation during the day, especially when you’re gone. There are tons of toys and accessories that are available for this purpose. 


      2. A Wet Dog = A Hot Spot Coming Soon

      Bacteria likes to grow in moist, warm environments. After you give your pup a bath, make sure they are completely dried and that they don’t start licking or grooming themselves. 


      3. Tick and Flea Prevention

      Prevention. Is. Essential. If you live in an area where pests and parasites are prevalent, tick and flea prevention is essential. 


      4. Regular Grooming

      Regular baths and grooming are essential parts to your pup’s whole health. Keeping your dog’s skin healthy and preventive of hot spots starts with a nice bath and brush!


      5. CBD Oil 

      By now, you’ve likely heard about the magical benefits of CBD and its effects on pets. You’re probably also familiar with coconut oil and their great effects on dogs’ skin health. Well, here at PETly CBD, we took it one step further and created CBD Oil for Dogs infused with MCT coconut oil. This tincture product can be given orally or applied topically for your furry friend. 


      Dog Hot Spots: Final Thoughts

      When all is said and done, we understand just how frustrating hot spots can be. At PETlyCBD, we are also doggo owners who have dealt with the not-so-fun hot spots over the years. Thankfully, hot spots are one of the few issues that vets don’t consider to be too harmful to your pup’s overall health. So, treating the hot spot as soon as possible is essential in preventing the development of any further infection or issue. 

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