Hotspots on Dogs, How to Treat Hot Spots on Dogs Naturally with Home Remedies

Hotspots on dogs
Hotspots on dogs

What causes hot spots on dogs? Are hot spots on dogs contagious? Hot spots are a common canine problem that if left untreated could cause your dog irritation, intense itching, inflammation, and infection. The affected skin appears red, moist and is very painful. In the worst cases, hair loss may be seen. Below is more on hotspots on dogs, including how to treat hot spots on dogs naturally with home remedies and other medication.

Hot Spots on Dogs

Hotspots on dogs are frustrating, irritating skin lesions that among other things are characterized by intense itching and licking of the skin. Below are common questions that dog owners ask about hot spots on dogs.

What Are Hot Spots?

According to Dr. Henry Cerny, DVM, MS of Yankee Hill Veterinary Hospital, hot spots are a condition involving an area of the skin which has become inflamed and infected. Also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis or acute moist dermatitis, they manifest as localized, reddish, and inflamed skin lesions.  The skin appears red and moist. Sometimes it may ooze and can be very painful.

Hotspots are characterized by intense itching, biting and continued licking making the condition even worse. Sometimes, hair loss may be seen.

Hotspots can occur anywhere on the body such as the head, chest, groins and the rear end. It is common to see this problem in dogs that are not groomed regularly and those who are exposed to wet conditions such as swimming and rain. Dogs with thick coats and those that are long haired are also commonly affected.

What Causes Hotspots on Dogs

While most people generalize that hotspots are caused by bacterial infections, it is actually anything that irritates the skin and causes itching that leads to their development. Skin irritation causes your dog to scratch and licks the skin making it red and inflamed.

Bacteria, most commonly Staphylococcus takes advantage of the broken skin developing into an infection with oozing and painful wounds. Wet skin from continuous licking and oozing makes the skin a good breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria which makes it even hard to deal with the problem.

Common things that trigger itchy skin include

  • Food allergies
  • Allergies to grass, weeds and dust mites
  • Fleas, ticks or mosquito bites
  • Poor grooming
  • Conditions such as hip dysplasia and anal gland disease

Also known as summer sores, as the name suggests, hotspots are said to be less common in cold temperatures and may only a problem during the hot seasons.

Are Hotspots on Dogs Contagious?

It is common to have people worry whether canine hot spots are contagious to other dogs or humans. While they can rise fast and dramatically spread on the dog’s body, hot spots are not contagious to humans or other dogs.

While bacterial hotspots are not contagious, those that are caused by scabies and fungal infections can spread to humans and other dogs in contact. Skin conditions such ringworm are also contagious.

The only way to tell whether hotspots on your dog are bacterial or fungal is by having a vet run a culture of the skin scraping (cytology) to determine if the cause of the hotspots is contagious.

Will Hotspots on Dogs Go Away?

Hotspots can be easy to manage depending on how far they’ve spread and where they are located. The goal is to treat bacterial infection and relieve itching. Removing the underlying triggers makes sure that your dog stops itching making the infection even worse.

Do Hotspots on Dogs Bleed?

Bleeding is quite common due to extensive scratching and biting on the already broken skin. The infection is may grow deep into the dog’s skin. In addition to oozing pus, there may be bleeding.

Do Hotspots on Dogs Smell?

Open, wet skin and the presence of infection-causing bacteria may also cause the skin to smell. Once they start to ooze pus, hot spots can have a very foul smell.

How to Treat Hotspots on Dogs

Examination by a vet is not only important for proper diagnosis but also to rule out other canine skin conditions that may present in a similar way. The goal of treatment is to remove hair around the area and keep the skin clean and dry.

Treat inflammation and infection by application of topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory.  It is also very important to identify and get rid of possible triggers. Here is how to treat hotspots

  1. Clip the hair around the area to allow for cleaning and easy application of topical medications
  2. Clean the area with a mild astringent or antiseptic and pat dry
  3. Use antibacterial creams and ointments to kill bacteria
  4. Analgesics will help with the pain, fever and help calm inflammation
  5. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed by a vet on a course of several weeks
  6. Antihistamines may be given to help calm the itchiness
  7. The vet may also prescribe a short course of corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone to relieve pain and itching
  8. Prevent your dog from scratching, licking and biting the area using an Elizabethan Collar
  9. Observe and make sure the area stays dry and continues to heal

How Long Do Hotspots On Dogs Take To Heal?

Healing time depends on the course of management. If treated properly, most hot spots dry and heal over a course of several days. The healing process for severe hotspots may take quite some time and may require lengthy follow up by a veterinarian to prevent recurrence.

How to Prevent Hotspots on Dogs

Hotspots on dogs can be easily prevented by identifying the underlying cause. The incidence can be greatly reduced by following these tips

  • Keep your dog well-groomed regularly by clipping hair especially in the hot months
  • Control fleas and other insects that affect dogs
  • Manage allergies
  • Prevent habitual scratching by curbing boredom. Make sure your dog gets adequate exercise

Home Remedies for Hotspots on Dogs

Hotspots on dogs can spread really fast if not addressed immediately. There are things you can do at home to help treat hot spots on dogs even without consulting a vet. These natural remedies will not only save you a trip to the vet but also provide relief to your pooch. Here is how to treat hotspots easily and effectively with home remedies

Apple Cider Vinegar for Canine Hot Spots

A must-have home remedy, apple cider vinegar is quite effective when it comes to home treatments. Recommended for canine hotspots by Dr. Oz, vinegar has strong antiseptic and antimicrobial properties that make it perfect for the treatment of hot spots on dogs. Dilute vinegar in equal parts with water

  1. Add in vitamin C to help with the swelling
  2. Wash the affected area with this solution once daily

Note, however, that ACV should not be used on open wounds due to scratching. The acetic acid in vinegar can irritate wound and cause a painful burning sensation. Do not apply ACV to the eyes. You can use a dropper or syringe for direct application.

Baking Soda

Applying baking soda to the affected areas of skin provides relief from itching. It is cooling and soothing to the skin.

  1. Make a paste by mixing 1 teaspoon of baking soda and a small amount of water. Apply this paste to the affected areas and leave it on for a while.
  2. Alternatively, you can make a baking soda spray by mixing 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 8 ounces of water in a spray bottle. Shake the contents well and apply as needed.

Black Tea

Tea contains a chemical tannic acid which has the ability to draw out bacteria and relieve sores. Green tea and black tea contains the highest quantity of tannic acid.

  1. Steep one tea bag in a cup of water
  2. Allow the tea bag to cool
  3. Place the cool teabag directly on the hotspot and allow it to sit for a few minutes
  4. Do this several times during the day for a week

Tea Tree Oil

First, it is important to note that concentrated Tea Tree Oil is considered harmful and toxic to pets and should not be used undiluted. TTO is an excellent anti-inflammatory that helps to soothe the skin and treat bacterial and fungal infections.

TTO just like all other essential oils should never be ingested and is only meant for external use in a diluted form. There are different pet grooming products with tea tree oil in the lowest percentages well below the toxic levels.

NOTE: DO NOT use tea tree oil on cats.