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Dealing With Hot Spots On Dogs

Dealing With Hot Spots On Dogs

A few weeks ago Sherman was acting strange and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

He was restless, panting a little more normal and clingy.

I checked him over but I couldn’t quite pinpoint what was causing his anxiety.

I thought maybe it was due to the oven alarm going off earlier in the day but his actions didn’t quite fit for that.

The next morning I woke up and went downstairs to say good morning and I noticed tufts of hair on the floor next to him.

That’s when I saw it.

A half-dollar sized hot spot on his right thigh.

It was raw, it was red and it was wet.

That would totally explain his anxiety.

Sherman doesn’t like anything abnormal going on with his body and a hot spot is definitely abnormal for him.

In 11 1/2 years, this is only the third hot spot that he’s had.

We’ve been very lucky in that area and I’m grateful because hot spots can be a pain in the butt.

What Are Hot Spots?

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

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

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?

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.

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How Are Hot Spots Treated?

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

Not everyone chooses to take this route especially if they aren’t dealing with hot spots on a routine basis but if you’re dealing with recurring hot spots or a hot spot that has taken over the entire side of your dog’s neck, it would be best to seek out professional help.

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.

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.

DO NOT USE ALCOHOL. 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 Avoid Hot Spots

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 Tackled Sherman’s Hot Spot. 

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.

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.


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

My Brown Newfies is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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Anna Gregory

Sunday 14th of July 2019

Third Newfie. First one with hot spots. He tends to get them in the same area and they tend to gunk quickly from the puss and hair. I took him in with what I believed to be allergies and my vet agreed. That being said I use bacitracin (my vet approved) and they are gone in a day with two applications. I cannot recommendation it enough. It has been what we use in our family for over 5 years. It is like neosporin but different in the it that it promotes scabbing not keeping a scab soft. Good luck.

Catherine Simms

Sunday 5th of August 2018

I will try those products. Our Lab's hot spot cost us $300.00 at the vet!


Saturday 28th of July 2018

Flight had one just beginning a few weeks ago. Shaved the site and treated the area with hydrogen peroxide and it cleared up within a day, since it never really had a chance to get bad.


Friday 3rd of August 2018

That's awesome! I think that if I would of saw Sherman's hot spot 12 hours earlier that it wouldn't have gotten so bad!

Tails Around the Ranch

Friday 27th of July 2018

Great info; I'll have to check out those products and hope I don't have to deal with anything like that with either one of the poodles. Hot spots are definitely no fun from the sounds of it. Glad Sherman is recovering nicely. Happy weekend.


Friday 3rd of August 2018

I'm glad you haven't had to deal with them!

My Golden Life

Friday 27th of July 2018

Glad Sherman's hot spot dried up!! We've been lucky so far - knock on wood - no hot spots on either of the girls.


Friday 3rd of August 2018

That's awesome! I'm knocking on wood for you!