Hot spots are a common skin ailment in dogs. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, hot spots typically appear as moist, oozing, reddened areas (of any shape) that can be quite painful and itchy (1).
There are many reasons dogs can be affected by hot spots, including a flea-bite allergy, general skin allergies, bites from other parasites, chemical irritant, skin infection, ear and anal gland infections, and neglected grooming.
Dogs that swim a lot or those who live in a humid climate are more prone to develop hot spots. Basically, any situation that causes moist, dead fur to be trapped next to the skin can lead to a hot spot.
Usually, the problem starts when a dog chews on or licks broken skin. This breaches the body’s natural defenses and introduces bacteria on the affected skin that can lead to a mild to moderate infection in the skin’s upper layer.
Hot spots in dogs are painful, itchy and often seem to pop up overnight. Also, you will probably notice your dog obsessively itching, licking and biting at the area.
No matter what caused the hot spots, treatment is necessary to help heal the skin and relieve the itching. Along with medications prescribed by your vet, there are many alternative remedies for treating hot spots that can help control the problem.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for hot spots on dogs.
1. Keep the Area Clean
The most common home treatment for hot spots on dogs is to keep the affected area clean and dry as much as possible. This will help prevent any infection from spreading and aid in the healing process.
Use an antibacterial soap on the wound and wash it once daily. You can also use baby shampoo to wash your furry friend. Baby shampoo provides a gentle cleansing effect and helps soothe the irritated skin and prevent further scratching and damage to the area.
Dogs that have long, thick coats are more susceptible to developing hot spots, so you need to trim the hair on and around the affected area. It is important to give the hot spot access to air so the skin can dry out, which in turn helps the skin heal faster.
If you do not want to give your dog a full trim, at least remove or shorten the hair around the hot spot areas.
If there is pus from the wound, clean it with a moist cotton ball or gauze pad.
2. Coconut Oil
For treating hot spots on dogs, coconut oil is a good remedy due to its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
The saturated fats in coconut oil will reduce your dog’s allergic reaction and help relieve the itching sensation. The high fat content also helps keep the skin moisturized and promotes the growth of healthy skin and hair.
Whether used orally or topically, coconut oil can be beneficial.
- To apply topically, mix ½ cup of extra-virgin coconut oil and 2 drops of oil of oregano. Rub it on your dog’s itchy spots. Do it twice daily.
- For oral administration, mix between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil (depending on the size of your dog) into your dog’s meal. Do it once a day.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Another good home remedy for hot spots on dogs is organic apple cider vinegar.
Its acidic nature helps restore the pH level your pet’s skin, which is important for killing off pathogens and reducing the itchiness.
- Mix ½ cup each of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and water. Transfer the contents to a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on your dog’s hot spots 2 to 4 times a day, or as needed.
- Also, mix some apple cider vinegar into your dog’s food or water daily for a few days. The suggested dose is: 1 teaspoon for small dogs (up to 14 pounds), 1 tablespoon for medium dogs (15 to 34 pounds) and 2 tablespoons for large dogs (35 to 85 pounds).
Experts also recommend oatmeal baths to soothe itchy skin due to hot spots.
Oatmeal contains anti-irritating, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties that provide instant relief from itching. It also nourishes and moisturizes your pet’s skin, which in turn relieves the discomforts.
- Add 1½ cups of finely ground oatmeal to a big tub filled with warm water.
- Add a few drops of lavender essential oil.
- Bathe your dog in the oatmeal bath for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Rinse away the oats with warm water.
- Repeat once daily until the hot spots subside.
5. Black Tea Bags
Black tea bags are another commonly used home remedy for hot spots on dogs.
Due to the tannic acids present in black tea, it helps dry out the infected area and promote a gentle healing of the skin. It also helps reduce the itchiness.
- Steep a few black tea bags for 3 to 4 minutes in warm water.
- Remove the tea bags from the water and allow them to cool down a bit.
- Once cool, place the tea bags directly onto the hot spots.
- Let them remain on the hot spots for 5 minutes.
- Repeat 4 or 5 times per day until the hot spots have cleared.
Calendula is a very effective herb for nearly every type of skin condition that your furry friend may suffer from, including hot spots.
Calendula has flavonoids that aid the healing of damaged skin and provide anti-inflammatory action to get rid of the pain and itchiness.
Plus, its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties assist in eliminating germs and promoting healing.
- Apply a few drops of calendula oil on the hot spots.
- Gently massage the area with a cotton ball to ensure the oil gets fully absorbed into the skin.
- Allow the area to air-dry.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times per day until the hot spots have fully healed.
You can also apply calendula cream or lotion on the affected area, a few times a day.
7. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel is cooling, soothing and has antibacterial and antiseptic properties that can help treat hot spots on dogs.
Plus, it contains vitamin E that helps keep the skin moisturized and in turn reduces itching.
- Extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf. Apply the gel on the affected area. Leave it on for 15 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Use this simple remedy 2 or 3 times daily.
- Alternatively, add ½ teaspoon of powdered comfrey leaf to 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel to make a paste. Apply the paste on the hot spots and leave it on for 30 minutes before rinsing it off. Do this 2 or 3 times a day.
Neem, also known as Indian lilac, has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, analgesic and soothing properties that help relieve itching and discomfort caused by hot spots. Neem is also good for your pet’s overall skin health.
- Boil and simmer a handful of neem leaves in a pan of water (4 cups) for 10 minutes. Once cool, strain the water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the hot spots and allow it to dry on its own. Repeat once daily.
- Alternatively, mix equal amounts of pure neem oil and extra-virgin coconut oil. Apply it on the hot spots 2 or 3 times a day. You do not need to rinse it off.
9. Omega-3 Supplements
Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, play an important role in keeping your dog’s skin in good condition. In fact, the essential fatty acids are important to prevent skin problems like hot spots on dogs.
The anti-inflammatory nature of omega-3s helps prevent pain and itching, the most common symptoms of hot spots.
Look for omega-3 supplements that contain EPA and DHA. Supplements come in liquid or capsule form. You can choose whichever is comfortable for you to feed to your dog.
It is always best to seek your veterinarian’s advice before starting your dog on any kind of supplement.
10. Maintain a Healthy Diet
For any kind of skin problem to heal, diet plays a key role. In fact, a nutritionally rich diet plays an important role in maintaining your dog’s health and preventing skin infections.
Also, a good diet helps boost your dog’s immunity, which helps the body stave off hot spots and other problems.
To help the hair grow back in the hot spots, a protein-based diet is important. In addition, your dog’s diet should include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, folic acid, biotin and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D and E.
For healthy skin, feed your dog eggs, almonds, chia seeds, coconut oil, oats, liver from grass-fed animals, wild salmon, cranberries and sweet potatoes. At the same time, keep your dog hydrated. Make sure your dog has easy access to drinking water all the time.
- Treat the affected skin with an antibacterial and antifungal agent.
- Keep your pet as stress-free as possible.
- To prevent aggravating the hot spot, put a small amount of vapor rub around the affected area.
- To relieve itching, a small amount of witch hazel spray is a topical option.
- Control fleas and other insects that affect dogs.
- Prevent habitual scratching by curbing boredom. Make sure your dog gets adequate exercise.
- If your dog’s hot spots are very itchy and irritating, apply a cool compress to help alleviate the intense itching.
- You may need to put on an e-collar to keep your dog from reaching back and chewing or licking the irritated skin.
- Seek treatment or advice for any allergy symptoms you may notice and try to find the cause.
- Dog Grooming Tips. ASPCA. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-grooming-tips.