How to Treat Dog Hot Spots

Updated: June 27, 2024

Have you ever noticed those inflamed and infected red spots all over your dog's skin that can either get itchy, damp, or can even ooze and contain pus? That can be a little descriptive, but those are what we call hot spots.

rectal itching

"This itch-lick-bite-itch-scratch-itch cycle is the foundation of hot spots. The skin lesions get inflamed and become warm, thus the name hot spots."

But what are hot spots exactly? How do our dogs develop them and what are the effective ways on how to treat dog hot spots?

What are Hot Spots on Dogs?

According to the experts at VCA Hospitals, hot spots on dogs is a skin disorder most commonly known as acute moist dermatitis. This skin disorder is composed of painful skin lesions anywhere on a dog's body that causes your furbaby to constantly and excessively lick, bite, or scratch the affected areas.

Hot spots can appear anywhere on your furbaby’s body, but the most common spots are the head, legs, and hips. These painful, pungent sores may be very visible or may be hidden beneath your dog’s thick fur.

This itch-lick-bite-itch-scratch-itch cycle is the foundation of hot spots. The skin lesions get inflamed and become warm, thus the name hot spots.

Symptoms of Hot Spots in Dogs

Symptoms of hot spots in dogs may include two or more of the following:

  • itchy, painful, and inflamed patches of skin
  • constant licking, biting, or scratching
  • signs of discomfort when affected areas are touched
  • dry and flaky skin
  • crusted scabs
  • hair loss
  • oozing sores with pus
  • foul odor from affected areas

Many skin disorders and conditions have very similar symptoms with hot spots.  That's why it's important to consult with your veterinarian first before any conclusions.

What causes hot spots on dogs? How to Treat Dog Hot Spots

What Causes Hot Spots in Dogs?

It has been said that hot spots are a result of a dog constantly licking, biting, or scratching skin lesions. But where do those lesions come from?

Any disease, illness, disorder, or trigger that causes your dog to feel super itchy has the possibility of becoming a hot spot. Common causes of why your dog is itching can be:

  • Food allergies
  • External parasites (bites from ticks, fleas)
  • Other canine skin disorders like dermatitis, yeast infections, dry & flaky skin,
  • Contact irritants
  • Moisture trapped in the coat after bathing or swimming
  • Excessively licking, scratching, or biting of the skin due to boredom or anxiety

Some hot spot causes are health conditions, some are behavioral problems. And as stated by The American Kennel Club, some dog breeds like the Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, and Labradors have greater risks of developing hot spots compared to other dogs because of their thicker coats.

Hot spots are also more likely to happen to your furbaby during warm weather and periods of high humidity. But whatever it may be, if the cause is not ruled out and managed properly, hot spots can recur in your dog over and over again.

hot spots on dogs, How to Treat Dog Hot Spots

Treatment and Management

Talk to your vet. Identifying the underlying cause of why your dog is itching leading to hot spots is very important. Consult with your vet so they can make the proper diagnosis and recommend the best treatment plans for your uneasy, itchy dog.

Here are additional things you can take into consideration if the cause has already been confirmed:

  • If the cause is food allergies, you can discuss with your vet avoidance of certain food for your furbaby and recommendation of hypoallergenic dog food.
  • If the cause is external parasites, you can begin external parasite control methods around your house, particularly on your lawn, as this is where fleas and ticks love to dwell.
  • If the cause is underlying skin conditions, have those skin conditions treated first hand.
  • If the cause is contact irritants, keep harmful substances away from the reach of your dog and always supervise your dog for possible contact irritants when going out or taking walks.
  • If the cause is trapped moisture in the coat, always keep your dog dry and warm after every swimming or bath using a soft and absorbent towel.
  • If the cause is boredom or anxiety, solutions may include behavior modification, positive reinforcements, frequent & fixed schedule exercises, playtimes, etc.

Prevent your dog from licking, biting, and scratching the affected areas. In treating and managing hot spots, the number one rule is to prevent severe skin infections from taking place and steps to do this is to prevent your furbaby from licking, biting, and scratching the hot spots. Some options include:

  • putting on an e-collar around your dog's neck
  • covering the hot spots with breathable bandage or cloth to serve as a barrier.
  • giving your dog vet-prescribed anti-itching topical or oral medications

Provide your dog with supplements. Providing your dog with supplements, specifically allergy and skin & coat supplements, may help reduce hot spot itchiness and skin inflammation.

The Pet Parents® Role

Dogs can develop hot spots for a number of reasons- that’s why Pet Parents® offers Pet Parents® Skin and Coat SoftSupps® that can help keep your dog's skin and coat to become healthy and shiny again! It will also help prevent and reduce itching & inflammation and can even aid in hair regrowth in bald hot spot areas!

Our Skin & Coat Supplement contains Epax® Omega-3, a branded type of polyunsaturated fats that plays an important role in your furbaby's nutrition as a furbaby's body can’t produce it. It is known to help with the immune system, kidney functions and many more, particularly with skin conditions.

Pet Parents® also offers Pet Parents® Allergy SoftSupps® that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This way, any inflammation or irritation from hot spots can be alleviated. This contains colostrum that fuels an under-active immune system or reduces an overactive immune system which helps prevent infection & allergy symptoms.

Pet Parents® also has belly bands and dog diapers that can cover certain areas of the skin so your dog cannot bite or lick the affected area!

dog diapers for incontinence, puppy incontinence

"Pet Parents® also has belly bands and diapers that can cover certain areas on the skin so your dog can not bite or lick!"

How to treat dog hot spots greatly depends on what causes your furbaby to itch. Find the root cause and work from there to a happier, healthier, hot spot-free life ahead.