How to Heal a Hot Spot on a Dog

The hot spot in dogs is not uncommon. My dog ​​has had to deal with it too. Here you can find out why a hot spot develops in dogs, what treatment of the hot spot looks like and how to heal a hot spot on a dog with homeopathy and home remedies.

What is a Hot Spot?

A hot spot is an acute and, above all, weeping eczema in the dog. Also called pyotraumatic dermatitis or acute moist dermatitis.

Usually, the hot spot spreads in a circle on the dog’s skin.

This eczema is called a hot spot because this eczema often not only gets wet but can also be very red, hot, and itchy.

You can often smell the hot spot too. The smell is rather nasty and unpleasant .

how to heal a hot spot on a dog
This is what a typical hot spot for a dog can look like. But hot spots can also be smaller or significantly larger.

Symptoms at the Hot Spot

As with many other dog diseases, almost any of the symptoms listed below can occur. But that doesn’t have to be the case either.

For example, my dog hardly scratched his hot spot. Since this occurred on the neck, he could not lick himself there either.

I only noticed the hot spot because the area with the former tick bite was getting thicker and thicker and the fur at this point was totally sticky overnight.

In general, the following symptoms can occur at the hot spot

  • circular to oval inflammation of the skin
  • size from about 1cm to the size of a palm
  • very red and possibly shiny yellow in the middle
  • oozing or possibly purulent
  • itchy
  • ignited
  • can smell bad
  • dog licks or scratches a lot in one place
  • fur at the hot spot can fall out
  • sticky and “hard-dried” fur in the area of ​​the hot spot
  • possibly fever

Superficial hot spot (early stage)

A superficial or incipient hot spot is when the dog suffers from an irritated, itchy area of ​​skin that has not yet been caused or infected by bacteria.

The skin is slightly to more reddened and the symptoms listed above can occur. Usually a hot spot starts to appear within a few hours up to a day at most.

Appearance of the hot spot at this stage

  • often hairless in the hot spot area
  • slightly oozing
  • possibly a little yellowish in the middle
  • reddish at the edge
  • usually the hot spot is sharply demarcated from healthy skin
  • rather flat, no thickening

Deep hot spot (advanced)

One speaks of a deep hot spot or an advanced hot spot when the skin area has already been infected by bacteria or fungi. This is where the hair follicle inflammation (folliculitis) occurs. The inflammation then spreads to the surrounding tissue and becomes extremely painful for the dog.

Treatment with antibiotics cannot be avoided at this stage.

Appearance of the hot spot at this stage

  • often hairless in the hot spot area
  • more oozing
  • rather unevenly demarcated from healthy tissue
  • thickened change

Behavior of the dog towards the hot spot

Dogs usually scratch and lick themselves at a hot spot very often or trigger the development of the hot spot by licking and scratching bacteria or fungi to this area of ​​skin.

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Once the skin is really inflamed, it itches a lot and hurts the dog a lot.

The pain can make your dog look tired, dull, limp or behave differently than usual.

If you think you’ve discovered a hot spot, please do not fumble with it with unwashed hands and be careful. After all, the area hurts extremely.

Causes of Hot Spot in Dogs

The cause of a hot spot is actually always a bacterial or fungal infection.

How this comes about, however, can have very very different reasons.

In the case of my dog, it was simply a tick bite. I removed the tick alive and with its head. Thanks for tick hooks – I really recommend the Tick Twister tick hooks to remove ticks alive, with its head, and easily.

Nevertheless, the area on the neck became infected.

Sometimes it can start with your dog just having a minor abrasion. At other times, however, parasites such as ticks, mites, fleas, and other pests can also be blamed. Ear infections and ear mite infection can also be a common cause of hot spots around the ears.

But, it can also be that your dog has just caught a thorn in the bushes.

Also, food intolerances, allergies, and other diseases of the dog may result in a hot spot. Even in dogs that “use” licking and scratching to reduce stress, this can create a hot spot.

The dog eventually inflicts the hot spot on itself by licking heavily or scratching its paws. Whatever the cause of the scratching and licking may be.

As we know, the dog’s paws are usually not clinically clean. This allows bacteria and fungi to get to the skin area, which ultimately creates the hot spot. Permanent licking leads to the same result. The spot becomes more and more inflamed and affects deeper and deeper layers of the dog’s skin.

An overview of possible triggers for a hot spot

  • ticks, fleas, mites and other parasites
  • abrasions
  • ear infections
  • ear mites
  • food intolerance
  • allergies
  • stress
  • other skin conditions

Dog breeds that are particularly prone to hot spots

There are certain types of dogs that are particularly prone to developing a hot spot. These are dogs with very dense and thick fur or with many skin folds, such as the husky, Alaskan Malamute, Bernese Mountain Dog, St. Bernard, Golden Retriever, Molossian, Chow-Chow, mixed breeds of these breeds and similar breeds.

In general, a hot spot can also occur in short-haired dogs with little undercoat.

Hot spots occur particularly often when the coat changes or when the weather is rather wet and cold. They are then found increasingly in the dog’s skin folds. The age of the dog does not really play a role in the formation of a hot spot.

How to Heal a Hot Spot on a Dog

How the hot spot needs to be treated also depends on how far it has progressed.

If your dog has a hot spot for the first time or you suspect it, then it is best to take him to the vet right away. Unfortunately, there is usually no point in waiting.

Normally, the affected area of ​​skin is freed from the fur first. Say, by shearing or shaving. This way, the wet area is exposed to air and you can see better whether it is actually a hot spot and how far it has progressed.

Shaving is usually quite uncomfortable for the dog because the wound hurts and almost every touch can be painful.

That is why it is usually a challenge to treat a hot spot yourself. Holding the dog and shaving the coat works really badly on your own.

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In the case of an advanced hot spot, your dog cannot avoid the antibiotic from the veterinarian. In my experience, that helps very quickly within 24 to 36 hours.

Even if I think very much about home remedies and homeopathy for dogs and use them, I am immediately at the vet with an advanced hot spot with my dog. From my point of view, this is the quickest and best way to give the dog relief and allow the wound to heal.

In parallel to the hot spot treatment with an antibiotic, our vet recommended that we dab the area with hydrogen peroxide a few times a day. This cleans the fur and the skin area.

Treating superficial hot spots at home

If your dog has already had a hot spot a few times and you now know whether it is an incipient or an advanced hot spot, you can definitely take action yourself when a hot spot starts.

Here I would like to show you how you can proceed to perhaps cure a hot spot that is beginning to heal.

If your dog’s symptoms don’t improve very quickly, you should definitely take him to the vet!

1. Remove fur with a dog clipper

The first step is to remove the fur on your dog’s hot spot. This is often a difficult act on its own, depending on how reluctantly your dog tolerates the clipping.

The best thing to do is to get a second person who your dog trusts. While your helper is holding and calming your dog, you should use a good dog clipper to remove the fur at the affected hot spot relatively quickly, yet carefully.

Especially when the hair is stuck together it can be really difficult and painful for the dog. That’s why it’s important to have a well-shearing dog clipper (I use this brand).

The place does not have to be completely sheared. If a few millimeters of fur remain, that’s usually fine.

This is how the weeping hot spot gets exposed to air. On the one hand, this serves for wound healing. On the other hand, it makes it easier to examine the hot spot.

2. Cleaning with betaisodona or hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a clear solution. We got them from the vet.

After the area with the hot spot is cleaned, you should clean it with an antiseptic solution.

We received a low-concentration hydrogen peroxide solution from the vet (H2O2, 2% to 3%). But you can also use Betaisodona solution for this. Both have a disinfecting and anti-inflammatory effect.

With Betaisodona, however, there is the disadvantage that the dark red color of the solution makes it harder to see the development of the hot spot.

To clean with one of these solutions, use a clean cloth (such as a compress from the first-aid kit). Soak part of the cloth in the solution and carefully dab your dog’s hot spot with it.

3. Prevent licking and scratching with a ruff or leak protection

Now it is absolutely essential to prevent your dog from scratching or licking the area.

How do you do it? Good question. It depends on where the hot spot is and how well or poorly your dog can reach this area with its tongue and paw.

I bought the Protective Inflatable Collar for my dog and I am very satisfied with it. It’s soft and more comfortable for him when he’s not supposed to lick somewhere, yet doesn’t block his vision.

Medicines – antibiotics from the veterinarian

If your veterinarian determines that the hot spot goes deep and is infected by bacteria or fungi, you cannot avoid the antibiotic for your dog.

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But it is also important that not only the hot spot itself is treated, but also its cause.

With my dog, it was a tick bite. I couldn’t do anything about that. However, if the cause is that your dog has fleas or mites, it is important to treat those as well.

Home remedies & homeopathy for hot spot treatment

A superficial and incipient hot spot without bacterial infection can also be treated with home remedies and homeopathic remedies for the time being.

1. Calendula tincture

You can use a calendula tincture to dab the area on your dog a little after you’ve removed the fur. To do this, simply add about 5 to 10 drops of calendula to about 2 tablespoons of water.

2. Homeopathic

There are a number of homeopathic remedies for infected wounds, eczema or hot spots.

These include:

  • Calendula
  • Hepar sulphuris
  • Mercurius Solubilis

What you should definitely not do to a hot spot!

At the hot spot it is absolutely taboo that you lubricate your dog with ointments, pastes or creams.

These cover the sore spot far too much. On the one hand, the weeping wound cannot dry out and, on the other hand, this promotes the development of bacterial inflammation.

So note: Always use aqueous solutions or sprays at the hot spot!

Better stay away from Bepanthen, baby powder, ointments, creams, pastes, honey … (and whatever else you can think of), and off to the vet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a hot spot contagious for humans, other dogs, and animals?

The hot spot itself is not contagious. Neither for humans, other dogs, nor other animals.

However, the possible cause of the hot spot can be quite contagious. This mainly affects triggers such as fleas, mites and other parasites.

This is why treating the cause is so important.

Can I treat my dog’s hot spot myself?

You can definitely try that with an incipient or superficial hot spot. If your dog has already had one or more hot spots, you may already be familiar with the appearance of the skin areas and can react quickly.

As soon as the area has thickened, is no longer sharply demarcated from the healthy tissue and becomes very sensitive, or you simply have no experience with hot spots, I always recommend that you visit a vet.

Can you prevent a hot spot?

There are several different triggers for a hot spot to prevent. This mainly affects your dog’s defense against parasites so that fleas, mites, and ticks don’t stand a chance.

If you keep these pests away, at least no hot spots can arise from parasites.

My Experiences

I had the vet treat all of the hot spots that my dog already had, as they were already thickened and painful.

Fortunately, the worst evil was beaten within a day of antibiotic treatment.

The inflammation healed and the hot spot became flatter and looked healthier from day to day. To keep it that way, I dabbed the area 2 to 3 times a day with hydrogen peroxide for a good 10 days.

This also meant that we did without playmates for a few days in order to give the wound the chance to heal properly. Without dirt or foreign dog saliva being able to get there.

It will of course take a while for everything to heal properly, for the skin to look normal again and for the fur to grow back. That’s why it’s always good to keep an eye on the spot for a few more weeks.

Important: This article is for informational purposes only. We always recommend that you go to a trusted vet with your pet first.