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Dealing With Hot Spots On Dogs


Hot spots are a common skin infection seen in many dogs, especially those with a double coat such as the Newfoundland. 

This skin infection can be painful for cause and cause them to lick at the area which makes the problem even more of an issue. 

Hot spots can be expensive and an annoyance to deal with but the good news is that they are treatable and preventable with care and maintenance. 

What Are Hot Spots?

Hot spots are a common type of skin infection seen in dogs.

They are acute moist dermatitis that can often appear out of the blue and escalate quickly.

They can vary from dog to dog but in most cases, the skin gets red, moist and sometimes oozes.

They can be painful and quite irritating to a dog which causes them to bite, chew and scratch at the area creating more inflammation.

They are sometimes difficult to get under control because they spread fast.

What Causes Hot Spots?

closeup of a hot spot on a dog's front leg

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Hot spots can be caused by a variety of things such as environmental and food allergies, mosquito bites, parasites, unkempt coat, humidity, swimming, pain, fleas, anxiety and other underlying medical conditions such as thyroid issues or infected anal sacs.

Hot spots spread fast because dogs lick and chew at them.

Most hot spots are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria.



The important thing to do when treating a hot spot is to figure out the underlying cause which should be done by a veterinarian.

If you want to try to treat your dog’s hot spot from home there are a few home remedies that you can try BUT if the hot spot does not improve in a few days or gets bigger, your pet should be seen by a veterinarian. 

Treating Hot Spots From Home

It’s normally recommended to shave or clip the hair around the area of the hot spot to let it breathe and so the medication can easily be applied.

Clipping the area will also allow you to see how big the hot spot actually is.

red and oozing hot spot on dog's body

Next, the area is cleaned with a non-irritating solution like Hibiclens and a topical product is applied.

The product is normally something that will help stop the itch and dry the hot spot out so that it scabs over and heals.

Sometimes oral antihistamines like Benadryl are used to help the itching.


Some dogs may need to wear a soft collar to keep them from chewing and licking at the hot spot.

Many dog owners also use large t-shirts to keep their dog away from the hot spot but this will only work depending on the location of the infection.

There’s a ton of over the counter products out there that have been known to treat hot spots such as Gold Bond Medicated Powder, steeped green tea, Vetricyn spray, hydrocortisone sprays or hydrocortisone creams, chlorhexidine spray and a whole bunch of other home treatments that I won’t mention here because I’ve never tried them before.


I would never, ever recommend using alcohol.

Please promise me you won’t use it even if you read it on one of your dog forums which are loaded right now with hot spot threads.

Some nasty hot spots that just won’t go away may require a steroid and/or antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.

How To Prevent Hot Spots On Dogs

close up of hot spot on a dog's skin

Regular grooming can help keep hot spots at bay on dogs where there isn’t an underlying medical condition.

Drying your dog completely after giving them a bath or after they’ve been swimming with a high velocity dog dryer can also help.

Make sure you are following a protocol to keep fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes away.

Maintain regular check-ups with your veterinarian.

Try to address your dog’s anxiety.

Address the possibilities of allergies with your veterinarian. If your dog is always getting hot spots and ear infections, this can be a sign of allergies.

How We Tackle Hot Spots With Our Dogs

There are two possibilities of why Sherman got a hot spot: Anxiety due to fireworks or he might of took a snooze in a small puddle outside and I didn’t dry it.

Below is a picture of the healed hot spot.

Dealing With Hot Spots On Dogs

When I noticed the hot spot it was wet and pretty irritated so I sprayed some Skin Tonic on it.

The next day I had my husband give Sherman some belly rubs while I clipped the hair around the hot spot.

Sherman had done a good job of pulling hunks of his hair out so there wasn’t much to clip but I clipped the area and then went about a half an inch more so that I could see if the spot was growing.

I sprayed some Skin Tonic again and then I remembered that I had some Tomlyn Antiseptic and Anti-Itch Hot Spot Spray in the dog cabinet.

This is a great product that I will definitely use again. It contains Allercaine that numbs the area and Bittran in it to deter chewing and licking. 

I’m not sure if the Bittran deterred the licking for Sherman cause I caught him licking it a few times but within 3 days the hot post had scabbed over and cleared up.

treating a small hot spot on a dog's front leg

When I would use the spray I would occupy Sherman for several minutes after by going for a walk or giving him a massage.

This gave the spray a chance to work and he didn’t lick it off immediately. I also covered the hot spot with a small hand towel when we were outside for long periods of time to keep the flies and gnats away.

Updated 7/9/19

I can’t recommend the Tomyln Spray enough!

Leroy had a small hot spot last week and I used the spray and it was gone in 1 day! It’s definitely a product that I would recommend to have on hand for minor skin infections

If you’re dealing with hot spots this time of the year, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

how to treat and prevent hot spots on your dog

While Jen used to be a vet tech, the information in this post does not substitute for veterinarian advice. 



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