how to treat hot spots on dogs

How To Treat Hot Spots On Dogs

Canine hot spots can be very painful skin lesions that leave your dog with a bacterial infection. They are common in Summer but can occur at any time of year. They appear quickly and unfortunately have the propensity to worsen very quickly too. Hot spots can be quite small in the beginning but will get bigger if left unattended without treatment. They are extremely painful for dogs, so try to see to them as soon as possible.

Here we tell you everything you need to know about canine hot spots but, most importantly, hot to treat hot spots on dogs as well.

hot spots on a dog lying

So Why Do Heat Spots On Dogs Develop?

There are numerous causes for heat spots on dogs, but one thing is for certain: hot spots will not just go away on their own. Owing to being a bacterial infection that is made worse by moisture, and dogs licking the wound in an effort to clean it, the wound needs to be helped to heal. To do so, the lesions need to dry out and the infection needs to be addressed before the wound gets any bigger and more painful.

Where can they be found?

A Hot Spot on Dog Paw

Whilst they can develop on any part of your dog, keep an eye out for a hot spot on dog paws or on the top of your dog’s wrist joint. Other fairly common places for hot spots to develop are under the ears where bacteria grow in the warmth. Lower hind legs can also be one of the most common areas for heat spots on dogs to occur.

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Now we know what hot spots are and where to find them, how can we treat them?

Hot Spot Ointment For Dogs

Firstly, if you are ever unsure about marks or lesions on your dog’s skin, always take them to the vet. They will be able to give you the best advice possible that is tailored to your dog. They will know his or her history and so always consult your vet if you have any uncertainty regarding your pet’s health. With regards to your dog’s skin irritation, your vet will no doubt prescribe a topical lotion or hot spot cream for dogs that will start easing the symptoms of a hot spot quickly.

How To Use A Hot Spot Cream For Dogs

To use your prescribed hot spot cream, the area surrounding the dog’s hot spot will need to be trimmed with dog clippers. If you are unsure, either ask your vet or your groomer to do this. If the hot spot has become very large, shaving may be the only answer to clearing the area of fur. If shaving can be avoided, it is best to do so as it can cause clipper rash.

The fresh air that consequently gets to your dog’s wound, having been cleared of fur, will immediately start helping to dry out the heat spot. In fact, heat spots in dogs can be worse for thickly furred breeds as identifying a hot spot in the first place can be delayed as well as the fact that long hair is prone to matting and dirt which can cause infection if the underlying skin breaks for any reason.

Once the area has been cleared of fur and hair, it is best to clean the wound with antiseptic – either a soap or spray will work. This will no doubt be painful for your dog but remember it is for the best. Try to do it as quickly as possible so as not to prolong their pain for any more than necessary.

Next, apply the hot spot ointment for dogs that your vet prescribed. This will inevitably have some sort of hydrocortisone in it which further promotes healing, which along with fresh air will help relieve the itching that your dog will have as a result of the hot spot.

To stop them licking the wound any more, put a plastic cone collar around your dog’s neck, or a thick blow up collar that stops them being able to bend their neck as far as they normally can to lick and clean their bodies.

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After initially prescribing a hot spot cream for dogs, your vet will undoubtedly recommend a follow-up appointment to check on the status of the hot spot and see how it is healing. If the hot spot ointment has not taken as much effect as the vet would have liked, oral antibiotics may be the next solution. If they do not work, your vet may resort to using a cortisone injection which is known to further promote healing.

However, you can get some of the best hot spot treatment for dogs on prescription so the likelihood of an injection is minimal.

hot spots on dogs

How To Treat Hot Spots In Dogs with Home Remedies

That is not to say that there is not a hot spot dog home remedy. Far from it in fact. There are several useful home remedies for hot spots on dogs. One of the best things you can do for your dog and his or her hot spot is to wash the wound as often as possible. In fact, daily cleaning of the wound will do your dog’s hot spot no end of good too. If you have the time, try cleaning the lesion every two hours, or as often as possible – particularly in the first couple of days after the hot spot has been found.

Using Coconut Oil For Dog Hot Spots

Coconut oil for dog hot spots is a known cure. It is used the world over in numerous ways.  It has made its way, therefore, into many a first aid kit for several reasons. It has many antibacterial and antiseptic properties, but in the case of hot spots, it is particularly useful as it has many antifungal properties. On this basis, it can be spread on to the wound itself, but also added to your dog’s food to help them from the inside out.

Furthermore, coconut oil can be used as a base to add several other helpful ingredients too, to make one of the best hot spot treatment for dogs that will rival some on the vet’s shelves. For this homeopathic remedy for hot spots, simply add a few drops of oregano oil to about five teaspoons of coconut oil. Spread this on to your dog’s wound (once it has been cleaned), once a day. Use a cotton bud or cotton wool ball so that you are not further infecting your dog’s wound with your hands. It will help fight the bacterial infection as well as help to relieve your dog’s irritated skin by calming and soothing it.

Other Homeopathic Hot Spot Dog Home Remedy

Other homeopathic remedies for hot spots in dogs include calendula creams (i.e. ones that include soothing marigold) or even Bach’s Rescue Remedy. This can be used by adding it to your dog’s daily food. The calming effect of the solution results in a less frantic or anxious dog. This is helpful if your dog is one that scratches themselves if left alone for periods of time in the home.

One point to note in the treatment of hot spots – regardless of whether you use a more medicinal solution or a homeopathic, at home remedy, is that hot spots can take up to two weeks to heal. They go much further under the skin than we realise, so it can take a while for the hot spot creams to take hold. Be patient and don’t forget to wash the wound as often as possible at that time.

Ways To Minimize The Chance Of Your Dog Developing Hot Spots

One of the best treatment for hot spots in dogs is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. There are several ways to do this.

  • Groom Your Dog

Groom your dog often to lessen the chances of developing a hot spot. Dogs with matted and dirty coats are prone to hot spots developing under their fur.

Additionally, fleas are one of the causes for hot spots as dogs will scratch, itch and lick to relieve the discomfort that fleas create. Grooming them and using a specialised flea treatment for dogs will diminish the chances of a flea infestation taking place, thus minimizing the likelihood of your dog scratching his or her way to a hot spot.

  • Take Your Dog For A Haircut

Breeds of dog with long hair are far more prone to developing hot spots than dogs with shorter, trim coats. This is for several reasons – longer hair holds on to dirt and skin irritating nasties more easily than short coats. Dirt is a prime culprit for causing a hot spot to develop.

Secondly, dogs with long hair simply make it more difficult to see when a hot spot has developed. Therefore, if you take your dog for regular haircuts, the chances of seeing hot spots if they do develop are higher, thus making them easier to treat the earlier they are caught. This is especially key through the warmer Summer months when hot spots are more prevalent in dogs.

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  • Make Sure Your Home Is Stress-Free

Dogs that scratch as a manifestation of stress are exceptionally prone to hot spots. If you keep your home as stress free as possible, you will minimise the anxiety your dog will feel  and therefore the amount he or she scratches as a result. Dogs can definitely scratch their skin raw and this can be how infections start to take hold.

In the same vain, if you leave your dog for periods of time, try to leave out a collection of toys that they enjoy playing with. Boredom is another reason that dogs have been known to scratch themselves, which, again, is where hot spot infections can begin. By leaving out chew toys, balls and tug toys, dogs will be entertained so that they do not relieve their boredom in more destructive ways.

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Additionally, make sure your dog is well exercised by taking him or her on daily walks that are either long or tiring for them through mental stimulation. In this way, take a ball for them to play chase with or even play piggy in the middle with your dog and your partner. Any games that tire your dog out so that he or she simply flops down and sleeps when you leave the house are an ideal way to help prevent hot spots in dogs.

hot spots in chihuahua

The Bottom Line to Hot Spots On Dogs

Hot spots are particularly unpleasant skin irritations in dogs that can be treated very easily – but the early identification of them is key to help prevent further pain and suffering.

Dogs that are groomed often, have excellent hygiene and top-notch nutrition will be on the front foot to not developing any lesions or irritations that could develop into an infected hot spot. Well-exercised dogs that are entertained and not anxious will further be protected against any development of a hot spot too.

Dogs that are looked after in such a way will not only have any hot spots quickly identified, they also will have a number of preventative actions already implemented in their daily lives.

However, if a dog does develop a hot spot, remember to take action as quickly as possible as hot spots have a tendency to worsen rapidly. Hot spots in dogs can be treated before they become severe with larger health implications, but they must be identified swiftly for a simple cream (homeopathic or medicinal) to take effect and solve the problem.

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Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.