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Hot Spots On Dogs : What To Look For And How To Treat Them

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Hot Spots On Dogs : What To Look For And How To Treat Them
Dog Hot Spots | Innovet Pet

Dog hot spots are an external skin problem that many dogs run into at some point in their lives. The technical term for hot spots is moist dermatitis of the acute, moist variation. The phrase hot spot can be compared to the concept of being in the hot seat, or of a subject matter being referred to as a hot topic. Since it is a source of attention for your pup, acute moist dermatitis just happened to be called a hot spot, and the nickname stuck.

While the name might make you think of burns caused by heat or excessive sun exposure, this implication is a bit misleading. You see, dogs are not experiencing a side effect of receiving too much sunlight or sitting near a fireplace for too long. Instead, hot spots on dogs arise when a certain patch of skin receives too much attention from your dog, whether that be in the form of biting, licking, scratching, or any other way that your dog grooms.

If the irritation lasts for too long and the skin is left untreated, your doggy friend might start to feel a burning sensation, but this is not strictly unique to hot spots. Rather, any amount of exposed skin that is repetitively scratched and bothered will eventually begin to sting.

The innermost layers of skin, both that of people and of dogs, is not meant to be in contact with the open air. That is why lesions, sores, and any other type of physical laceration require immediate medical attention.

If open sores are left to heal naturally, without any medical remedies intervening to help speed up the process, then bacterial skin infections may arise. The same goes for hot spots on dogs because hot spots are open wounds that are susceptible to further infection and irritation.

The sooner you seek a trusted, professional veterinarian's advice and assistance on the matter, the sooner your dog can start to heal and the sooner your canine companion will go back to being their happy self!

Hot Spots on Dogs: Where Do They Come From?

Dog Hot Spots | Innovet PetNo amount of training will convince your dog that itching themselves is bad. If something is irritating your dog, as a canine, your pup will surely do his or her best to tend to the place of irritation, as would all people and other animals alike. If your dog's hot spots appear to be a self-inflicted wound, you are encouraged to explore the route of a cone of shame, as they are so commonly called. Another way of describing the cone-shaped device is an Elizabethan cone, but we will dive into that with more detail later on. There are two possible causes of hot spots on dogs. Either the pupper scratched and licked themselves repeatedly in the same area for quite some time, or the doggy developed the hot spots as a result of something beyond their control. Hot spots that are caused by dogs themselves are the harder hot spots to treat, but there are still ways to keep your dog from exacerbating their self-inflicted hot spot any further.

Hot spots that result from other factors are easier to treat but harder to prevent.

Some of the many causes of hot spots on dogs are…

  • Irritation from allergens
  • Being bitten by a bug that causes itchy skin, like mosquitoes
  • An compulsive obsession with grooming themselves
  • Skin infections in and around the anal glands
  • Cuts that go unnoticed and untreated
  • Infections that lie below the surface of the skin
  • Mites that make a home in your pet’s fur, causing scabies
  • Dandruff resulting from skin that is lacking in sufficient nutrients and moisture
  • Stress / Excessive licking as a result of heightened anxiety levels or discomfort

The thing about wounds caused at surface-level of dog fur is that they only get worse over time. Often, a buildup of bacteria forms on and around the hot spot. More and more bacteria accumulates over time, so the symptoms only become more aggravating for your doggo.

If your dog is especially fluffy or furry, then it might take you some time to notice that there’s anything wrong with your pup’s skin. We suggest that you perform regular, routine check-ups of your pet’s skin as a way of making sure everything is in perfect condition.

By running your hands gently through your dog’s fur, you’ll be able to lift the long pieces of fur and examine the spaces between your dog’s hair follicles. In doing so, you’ll either find that your dog’s skin is doing well or you’ll run into a wound here or there. If you happen to find an open sore, exposed skin, or something that just does not look quite right, dial the number to your pet’s veterinarian.

As long as your pup does not appear to be in a devastating or concerning state, it is not required that you stop by the emergency office of the closest pet hospital. Instead, just book the soonest appointment time that you can at your usual vet and keep an eye on your dog in the meantime.

What Symptoms Do Hot Spots Cause for Dogs?

Since hot spots are external, they are visible, and therefore, they tend to be easier to catch than something internal and seemingly dormant. Hot spots are no fun whatsoever, but the fact that hot spots are a physical skin condition is actually beneficial.

Hot spots get so much worse the longer they go unnoticed, but since hot spots can be seen with the naked eye, you have a higher chance of catching them before they become extremely detrimental to your pup’s health. From there, immediate actions can be taken to reverse the problem and heal the infected area of skin.

But the hot spot itself is not the only sign that your pet is hurting. Hot spots on dogs cause a plethora of physical symptoms.

Some of the obvious cues that hint at the presence of a hot spot on your dog are…

  • An area of warmth on your pet’s coat
  • A patch of wet fur, likely as a result of excessive licking
  • Somewhat of an obsession with grooming themselves
  • An unusual aversion toward being pet or scratched
  • A small patch of reddened, exposed skin
  • An absence of fur randomly on some part of your dog’s coat

As with nearly every health concern that your pet might face, hot spots elicit a few symptoms that are not unique to hot spots. For this reason, we strongly advise that you reach out to the vet and ask for their assistance in diagnosing your pet. We would hate for your dog to be treated for a hot spot when the cause of their symptoms is actually something entirely different.

The following behavioral changes or patterns are associated with hot spots, but they are also commonly paired with a bunch of other ailments…

  • Biting their own fur
  • Favoring one side of their body or the other
  • Whining as though they want more attention
  • Wincing in pain
  • Avoiding playtime
  • Preferring naptime
  • Aggressive behavior even with people your dog knows well
  • Personality changes that seem completely unusual
  • Spending a lot of time itching themselves
  • Skin Infections
  • Bleeding
  • No desire to eat food
  • An odd smell coming from their fur
  • Exhaustion

Predispositions to Hot Spots

Some dog breeds are more likely to experience hot spots than their fellow puppy friends of non-predisposed breeds. There are five dog breeds in particular that face a natural susceptibility for the development of hot spots. These breeds include Saint Bernards, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Rottweilers.

If you live near the beach, or your dog spends a lot of time outdoors in rainy weather, then your pupper might be more likely to develop hot spots than his or her puppy pals. This is due to the fact that wet fur that does not fully dry can result in a hot spot. The dampness and buildup of moisture can irritate your pet, causing them to itch the particular region and self-inflict a hot spot.

Something you might not be aware of is that not all dogs are born with proportional levels of bacteria. When an imbalance of bacteria is present, dogs are more susceptible to hot spots. Not only are they more likely to develop a hot spot at some point in their lives, but dogs living with these circumstances also face difficulty as it relates to the healing process of hot spots. The disproportional ratio of bacteria negatively affects your pet’s ability to naturally repair the affected area.

For dogs with bacterial imbalances, hot spots may take longer to fully resolve itself, and in a similar sense, you may notice that hot spots get worse at a pace that seems more rapid that it should. The best thing you can do for dogs that are more prone to hot spots is to be proactive.

Though it might seem like you’re being anxious or overly cautious, try to keep hot spots in the back of your mind. That way, if you notice your dog exhibiting behavior that parallels the symptoms of hot spots, you can rule out the possibility of hot spots -- or realize that your dog has one -- sooner than later.

If your dog has an injury of any kind and it elicits pain, keep an eye on your canine companion. They might get desperate for pain relief and end up licking themselves raw in the area of their injury. At any point, if you notice that your dog is constantly licking a certain region of their body, try to avert their attention elsewhere. If a hot spot has not yet formed, you can definitely avoid the development of one.

If you have not yet tried rubbing CBD oil near -- but not directly on -- the bothersome area, we highly recommend you do so as a first step. From there, if you are able to tie a loose handkerchief around the irritating area as a way of preventing them from excessive licking in that area, it is wise to do so.

Prescription Medications Available for Hot Spots on Dogs: Oral vs Topical

Oral hot spot treatment options for dogs are administered via the mouth.

Below is a list of some oral medications that vets prescribe for dogs with hot spots…

  • Antihistamines
  • Any medications that are intended to reduce pain levels
  • Cortisone
  • Steroids specifically curated to treat and obliterate skin infections
  • Antibiotics
  • Parasite-killing medication

Topical creams like...

  • Dog hot spot neosporin
  • Cooling creams
  • Dog hot spots coconut oil
  • Lotions that contain antibiotics
  • Drying sprays to help the skin repair itself
  • Hydrocortisone creams to make the itchiness fade away
  • Corticosteroid lotions
  • Flea and tick treatment
  • Shampoos designed to cleanse the skin and heal the exposed areas

Some veterinarians will recommend that your dog wear a cone collar during the healing process of a hot spot. The hot spot healing time will depend on the severity of your dog’s open wound, but once a scab has formed and hair has grown over top of the former hot spot, you will likely receive the go-ahead to remove their cone.

Alternative Hot Spot Treatment Methods: The Natural and Holistic Approach

We’ve talked about medications that your vet can prescribe for your dog’s hot spot. For a brief moment, we also touched on the cone of shame, as they call it. But what if you’re someone who’s looking to explore a more natural path for hot spot treatment? If that sounds like you, we have some news! There is an alternative approach to handling hot spots that does not require lab-made prescriptions or unnecessary chemicals.

You might have heard of CBD before. Whether you know a lot or a little about cannabidiol, the benefits of CBD as an addition to quite literally every single lifestyle out there are endless.

Here are a few possible perks of cannabidiol in terms of your dog’s health...

  • Lowers anxiety levels
  • Decreases production of stress hormones
  • Decreases the activity of the central nervous system
  • Calms the body
  • Assists in the prevention of seizures
  • Works as a pain reliever
  • Helps reduce prevalence of epileptic symptoms

CBD is being investigated all over the world for many uses. However at this time, as the manufacturer of CBD products, we are not allowed to discuss that subject publicly nor we are not allowed to imply that CBD can be used for any specific treatment.

The greatest characteristic of CBD is that studies have shown it may act as a universal resolve for many ailments and sources of serious discomfort. There are little to no adverse side effects of CBD for hot spots on dogs. You might find that your dog is a little sleepier and your pet’s thirstiness might increase shortly after taking CBD orally, but these are normal responses to CBD. In fact, CBD can improve the pain caused by the hot spots as well as the negative symptoms that come along with hot spots. What more could you ask for?!

Other natural remedies for dog hot spots are…

Dog Hot Spots | Innovet Pet
  • Witch hazel
  • Antibacterial, non-scented soap
  • Essential oils like tea tree oil
  • An increase in vitamin E consumption in your pup's diet
  • Bathing your dog with oats
  • Creating a spray with apple cider vinegar and water
  • Applying dog hot spots coconut oil

Cannabidiol for Dogs with Hot Spots: Where to Buy CBD

CBD is an absolutely amazing addition to the lives of dogs with hot spots. As a supplement that can help to reduce the pain the hot spot is causing them, cannabidiol not only improves your dog’s physical state, but your dog’s mindset as well. Hot spots take a psychological toll on your pup because the fact that they have an open sore takes up a lot of space in their mind. If your dog isn’t actively itching the location of their hot spot, then they are thinking about itching the location of their hot spot.

Our inventory consists of…If you are eager to buy CBD for your pets, Innovet is worth checking out! Our organic, hemp-derived CBD oils originate in Colorado. Our CBD formula was designed specifically for feline friends, canine companions, and equestrian buddies. As a full-spectrum CBD oil, Innovet's CBD product line does not contain any preservatives or harmful ingredients. The hemp extract that we use for our CBD pet products is sourced out of Oregon, USA. We also incorporate hemp oil that is derived from Europe -- Germany and the United Kingdom, specifically. On top of everything else, our CBD never comes into contact with pesticides, so we can proudly say that our CBD doesn't carry any dormant chemicals. You can count on Innovet for safe, healthy CBD for pets.

HotSpot Anti Itch Spray for Dogs | Innovet Pet

From oils and chews to treats and capsules, our hemp products are top of the line. Try CBD for pets as a dog hot spot treatment! You’ll notice that your pet feels so much better on days where CBD is part of their routines. Let us know if you have any questions. In the meantime, we hope your pet loves CBD just as much as you love them!


How to Treat Hot Spots on Dogs
First Aid for Hot Spots in Dogs
Hot Spots in Dogs and Cats
Cases of Pyotraumatic Dermatitis

Approved by:

Dr. Sara Ochoa

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, St. Georges University

Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.


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The Innovet Team

Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

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