If your dog is suddenly scratching certain areas of their skin over and over again, your pet might have what are known as “hot spots.” Also known as acute moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis, dog hot spots are a common issue, and getting relief for your pooch can be a frustrating experience.
Here’s some information on how hot spots occur and some natural treatments you can use to try and get rid of them.
Hot Spots 101
A dog hot spot can seemingly spring up overnight, in the form of a large, red, moist, painful area of irritated skin brought on by your dog’s licking, chewing, itching, and scratching. The excessive chewing or licking is often prompted by flea bites or some other type of insect bite, but allergic skin conditions may also be the culprit. As the dog continually licks or chews the irritated area, bacteria get in, leading to a hot spot.1
Other potential issues which can lead to the formation of dog hot spots include skin infections, food allergies, and parasites, such as mites or scabies. In some cases, dogs may lick, bite, chew, or scratch at an area out of boredom or stress, and a hot spot may develop. They may also develop after a dog is groomed.2
Hot spots usually start out as a large area of inflammation. This can quickly become raw, and even bleed, as the dog continues to tend to the area. The more your dog chews and licks the area, the worse the problem becomes.3
How to Tell if Your Dog Has Hot Spots
While any dog can develop hot spots, breeds with thick coats or long hair seem to be more susceptible than others. These include the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Rottweiler, St. Bernard, and Golden Retriever. Hot spots tend to crop up more during humid, hot weather.4
There are some other contributing factors to hot spots. For example, dirty or matted dog fur may increase the chances of hot spots. Also, dogs who swim a lot or stay outside in the rain will also be susceptible. The reason is the bacteria that trigger hot spots thrive in a moist environment.5
Hot spots can look somewhat like other skin problems; your vet will be able to spot the problem quickly. But the classic signs of hot spots include:
- Red lesions on the skin
- Dog fur loss
- Pain at the site
- Weeping sore (common type of eczema)
- Foul odor coming from the sore6
Once your vet has determined your dog has hot spots, the typical method of addressing the problem will be to shave the area, clean it thoroughly with an antibacterial solution, and then administer antibiotics. These medications are usually given anywhere from 1-3 weeks.7
But there are several safe, natural treatments you can use to address the problem. Here are just a few of the more effective ones:
Calendula is an herb that helps to calm itching and inflammation. It also helps promote rapid healing. You can find calendula oil or lotion at just about any health food store, and you can apply it to the hot spot as needed.8
Also known as St. John’s Wort, hypericum can be used as a tincture to provide a cleansing wash for hot spots. Put about 15 drops each of calendula and hypericum in a cup of warm water and apply the mixture to the hot spot. This will not only keep it clean, it may also help relieve itching. Dry the area thoroughly afterward.9
· Himalayan Salt Bath
You can also provide your dog a cleansing wash by using Himalayan salt, which you should be able to find at your local health store. Add a teaspoon to a cup of water, apply to the problem area and then gently pat dry. Do this a few times a day until the hot spot clears up.10
Preventing Hot Spots
There are a few things you can try if your dog develops hot spots on a regular basis. In order to keep your pet’s skin in the best possible condition, make sure you’re feeding them a high-quality diet. Talk to your vet to see if your dog might be allergic to the food they’re currently eating.
Coconut oil can help reduce allergic reactions. It might even help stop the itching that’s contributing to your pup’s hot spots. Add a teaspoon to your dog’s food once a day to see if that helps the problem. Omega-3 fatty acids found in products such as fish oil may also help prevent hot spots from occurring. Your vet can recommend the best products containing these fatty acids.11
A Final Word
Hot spots are miserable for dogs and often challenging for pet owners. If your beloved pooch has developed a hot spot, act quickly. First, take your dog to the vet. They’ll be able to determine if your dog has a hot spot, or some other skin condition. And if you’re considering trying a natural remedy, your vet can give you solid advice on what’s best, including some other alternatives you haven’t previously considered.