Identifying, Treating and Preventing Dog Hot Spots

Most times, hot spots disorders in dogs are self-inflicted. Dogs repeatedly lick and itch the hot spots area on the skin, thus causing traumatized underlying tissues.

The primary cause of hot spots could be fleas, insect bites, and auto-immune response to an infection. It is important to treat hot spots as soon as they develop to prevent the frustrated dog from itching and licking the affected skin area.

Scheduling an appointment with a veterinary doctor is the ultimate step towards identifying the underlying cause of hot spots on your dog. In addition to fleas, insect bites and auto-immune activities, there are lots of other causes of hot spots.

Atopic dermatitis, Parasites such as scabies and mites, food allergies, contact with irritants, a disease of the anal sac, ear and skin infections, stress and boredom, and irritation caused by grooming.

Treating and Preventing Dog Hot Spots

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What are the cause of Hot spots in dogs

In addition to fleas, insect bites and auto-immune activities, there are lots of other causes of hot spots. These are;

  • Atopic dermatitis,
  • Parasites such as scabies and mites,
  • food allergies,
  • contact with irritants,
  • a disease of the anal sac,
  • ear and skin infections,
  • stress and boredom, and
  • irritation caused by grooming.

Identifying Dog Hot spots

Knowing the symptoms of hot spots on dogs is very important, in order to provide the proper treatment. From my observation, I have discovered that hot spots mostly develop in the head, hips, and chest. A wide range of skin problems present symptoms that are similar to hot spots, hence proper diagnosis is very important.

What differentiates hot spots in dogs from similar skin problems, is the appearance of inflamed, hot, moist and red lesions. The lesions become inflamed due to the repeated licking and scratching of the affected part, by the dog. On close examination, you will also observe that the affected area loses hair and becomes sensitive and more painful to touch.

I have also observed that the scars created by hot spots will scab and then create pus, though, sometimes clear fluids are produced. The pus generated by the affected skin can create a matting and crusting of the surrounding area. Since hot spots can be self-induced, the infection can grow quickly when left untreated and the dog continues to scratch and lick it.

Preventing Dog Hot Spots

Identifying the risk factors of Hot Spots is the most important step to take in preventing the condition. It is important to note that certain breeds of dogs are more predisposed to hot spots than the rest.

The coated-hair and long-haired dog breeds such as Labradors, and German Shepherds will likely get infected with hot spots. Weather conditions can also contribute to hot spots, for instance, the infection is more rampant during the hot summer season. Hot spots are also common in high-humidity areas.

  1. Make your dog hygiene a priority

Hygiene is believed to play a critical role in the development of hot spots. Dogs that are constantly wet, matted and have dirty coats have higher chances of developing hot spots.

If your dog enjoys playing in the rain or swimming, you need to keep her dry afterward or prevent her from going into wet conditions. Hot spots infection is usually a sign of neglecting the dog, therefore you should spend more time with her.

  1. Get your dog vaccinated

Dogs that are well-groomed may still develop hot spots especially when they are not vaccinated. It is important to get the help of a veterinary doctor to examine your dog physically from time to time.

  1. Make your dog stay hydrated

Dogs can become dehydrated too quickly during hot weather conditions. It is important to increase the frequency of providing dogs with fresh and clean water when the weather outdoor is humid and hot.

  1. Conduct medical checkup on your dog

Dog owners should visit their vets for springs and early summer checkup. Dogs must be tested earlier in the summer or spring season for heartworm infection, especially when the dog is not on a year-round medication.

  1. Be aware of signs of hot spots early

One other way to prevent hot spots in dogs is to be aware of symptoms of overheating in your pets. Difficulty in breathing and excessive panting of your dog means she is feeling excess heat from the inside.

Increase in heartbeat is another sign that your pet is becoming excessively dehydrated. Drooling and mild weakness are signs you must watch out for. In extreme cases, your dog may suffer seizures, collapse, bloody diarrhea, elevated body temperatures, and constant vomiting.

All these signs may indicate that your dog is about to get infected by hot spots or the infection is already there, and urgent treatment is required.

  1. Don’t leave your pet inside the car

In addition to all these, you must avoid leaving your pet inside a locked and parked vehicle. Locking pets inside vehicles are reported to account for significant cases of heat strokes suffered by pets. In some states, it is illegal to leave a dog inside a parked vehicle with windows locked.

  1. Don’t leave them by the pool side

It should also be noted that pets must not be left by the poolside, unsupervised.  Not all pets are good at swimming, you should introduce your pets to swimming gradually.

Make sure you rinse your pet with clean water once she is out of a chlorinated and salty swimming pool. Similarly, you must ensure that the dog does not drink water from any natural or treated pool.

  1. Trim the dog’s fur frequently

It has become essential that you should trim your dog’s fur but never shave her. The underlying layer of the dog’s coat normally protects the animal from sunburn and overheating. You should consider brushing your dog’s coat more frequently to reduce the risks of over-heating.

It is equally important that you must prevent your dog from lying on Asphalt surfaces, especially in hot weather conditions. Lying down can cause the body of the dog to heat up quickly, which increases the chances of developing hot spots.

Treatment of hot spots in dogs

Though there are lots of home remedies you can apply in treating hot spots, these remedies are mostly for providing soothing relief for the dog. The best possible way to treat the infection is to contact a veterinary doctor. The doctor will recommend the appropriate treatment base on results from diagnosis.

Permanent treatments for hot spots can only work when the underlying conditions that trigger the infection have been fully discovered. Discovering the underlying problem will help in disrupting the itching cycle that causes serious discomfort. Once the itching cycle is interrupted or stop, the dog will stop irritating and promoting the spread of the hot spots.

  1. Shave the affected area

In most cases, shaving of the area, around the affected area is the first step towards a permanent treatment of hot spots. Shaving of the area near the affected part will help in drying out the lesion faster. Shaving will also make the application of medications a lot easier.

  1. Apply a non-irritating antiseptic

Once shaving is completed, the veterinary doctor may apply a non-irritating antiseptic medication to the affected area. The commonest non-irritating antiseptics commonly used on hot spots are Chlorhexidine. In most cases, the doctor may have to apply the “Elizabethan collar” on the treated spot to prevent the dog from licking and scratching it further.

Though hot spots are non-contagious in nature primary causes such as fleas, tick, can spread quickly to other pets in the neighborhood. Getting rid of hot spots as soon as possible will help prevent the spread of the problem to other animals in your household or neighborhood.

  1. Other home remedies

There are numerous home remedies you can use in treating hot spots at home. Remember, home remedies should not be used as a permanent cure for treating hot spots, you need proper diagnosis and treatment from your veterinary physician.

Common home remedies you can prepare at home and use as a relief treatment include; Diluted Vinegar mix and natural Aloe Vera. Most dogs may not withstand the direct application of pure, concentrated Apple Cider Vinegar, that is why it is important to mix 2 parts of Vinegar with 1 part of water.

Other home remedies for hot spots treatment include; Coconut oil, tea bag, Hazel with the mixture, Organic raw honey, Tea tree oil solution, and Colloidal silver tincture. Most home remedies should be applied once or twice a day to achieve the best possible results.


In conclusion, it is better to prevent hot spots than looking for ways to treat it. Prevention is always better considering the threat of hot spots to the life of your pet. The cost of getting emergency veterinary treatments must also be considered and compared to the costs of preventing the issue in the first place.

If possible, pay attention to everywhere your dog normally goes to, especially when she is outdoor. Secondly, training your dog to avoid places that exposes her to hot spots, can reduce her risk of infection.

Just like humans, dogs require special skin care treatment to prevent a number of infections. Do not make assumptions that your dog is healthy because she has not developed hot spots yet.

In addition to trimming your dog’s coat, experts suggest that you brush and apply dog shampoo products when washing your dog’s hair. Brushing and shampooing have been found to be effective in removing dirt, and insects attached to the outer coat, thus reducing the risks of hot spots.

When taking your dog for outdoor activities such as hiking, make sure she doesn’t eat or drink from ponds, streams, and woods. Paying attention to your dog’s needs is very important.


About David Huner

David Huner is a dog lover. Dog training has become a passion for him. With many years of experience he is here to share his tips and ideas. His goal is to provide exact dog training solutions. His favorite quote is "Train your dogs, enjoy your life and be happy"

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