Best Way to Treat Hot Spots on Dogs [Home Remedies That Work]

You’re a responsible dog parent. You do everything in your power to make sure your dog lives a long, happy, and healthy life. You take them to the vet for their checkups, bathe them every few weeks, feed them healthy food, and take care of all their needs.

Hot spots can be extremely painful for dogs and may even cause them to wear a cone.

But one day it happens…your dog become sensitive to touch, you take a look and discover your dog has a hot spot! At this point, you might be wondering, “what did I do wrong!?”. The answer – absolutely nothing.

Hot spots can develop overnight, and any dog is at risk of developing them no matter how well their owners take care of them. Thankfully these painful sores are usually treatable at home, although we do still recommend seeing a vet to be on the safe side.

Below we are going to go over our number one home remedy for hot spots on dogs. After that, we will go into more detail on how hot spots develop, how to prevent them, and when a visit to the vet is required.

P.S. These are very uncomfortable for your dog, so the sooner you can start the treatment the better.

How to Treat Hot Spots at Home Without The Vet – Our Recommended Method

The key thing to remember is that the goal of treatment isn’t just to get rid of the sore as quickly as possible but to also temporarily relieve some of the pain that your dog is experiencing.

There are multiple at home methods you can try, but we recommend starting with the plan below and see how well it’s healing after a couple of days.

What You’ll Need

  • Grooming scissors
  • Chlorhexidine or Betadine (both are over the counter disinfectants)
  • Black Tea Bags
  • Epsom Salt
  • Cotton Balls

Got your supplies gathered? Great! Let’s get to it.

Step 1: Get Out The Scissors

You’ll want to very carefully cut the hair near the hot spot to make sure it’s completely exposed. This will make it much easier to apply the treatment, but more importantly, it will allow proper air flow to provide for fast healing.

A word of warning – don’t use regular scissors. The last thing you want to do right now is to put your dog through more pain by accidentally cutting them.

Once sore is completely exposed, move onto step 2

Step 2: Time to Disinfect

Make sure you DO NOT use vinegar for this step. You want to disinfect the area, but you don’t want to put your pup through more pain than needed. You can head to a local store and pick up either chlorhexidine or betadine.

Dilute the disinfectant with water according to the instructions on the bottle. Soak half a cotton ball in your diluted disinfectant and spend about a minute gently rubbing it on and around the hot spot. Be very gentle, your dog is not going to like this.

Step 3: Tea Time 

You’ll notice the hot spot on your dog tends to stay moist. The quicker we can dry it out, the faster your dog will heal. Black tea has tannins, which help dry the sore. Thankfully black tea bags are dirt cheap, you can pick them up from your local grocery store.

Take one tea bag and steep it in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Once you remove the bag, make sure you give it at least 3 minutes to cool down.  After the bag has cooled down, gently press it against the hot spot for about 5 minutes. Again,  your dog isn’t going to like this, so try to talk to them in a calm voice to settle them down.

Step 4: Ease The Itch

The disinfectant and black tea do a great job to promote healing, but you also want to follow through with this final step to ease the itching so your dog won’t be so uncomfortable.

Start by pouring ¼ cup Epsom salt into about ½ gallon of water and wait for it to dissolve completely. Once dissolved, take a cotton ball and soak it in the solution. Now gently dab the sore for about 2-3 minutes. Every few dabs dip the cotton ball back in the solution.

Ideally, you would be doing this 2-3 times per day until the sore is healed. However, if you can only do it once per day that’s ok, just make sure you are consistent.

How To Spot a Hot Spot

Before you begin treating the hot spot, you want to make sure you don’t misdiagnose your pup. These are relatively easy to spot. You’re just looking for a red wet patch on your dog’s skin. Sometimes hair will be covering it, other times the hair around the area will fall out. A foul smell often accompanies this red wet spot.

Although they can appear anywhere on the body, the most common spots are behind the ears, back near the rectum, on the feet and the legs.

Your dog will want to lick the area because of the irritation constantly. So if you notice your dog constantly licking an area and there is a red spot underneath, there’s a good chance it’s a hot spot.

What Causes Hot Spots

Believe it or not, the most common cause of hot spots is the dog! When a dog is continually licking or scratching the same place on their skin, the tissue eventually becomes damaged, and a wet scab will appear.

Once the sore has been healed, it’s essential to address what could have caused the excessive scratching in the first place. Below is a list of common reasons dogs scratch themselves until a hot spot develops.

  • Flees
  • Dry skin and dandruff
  • Allergic reaction
  • Excessive boredom
  • Ear mites (if the sore appears around the ear)

If your pup continues to scratch or lick the same spot even after the sore is gone, you should visit the vet to figure out why your dog has been excessively scratching or licking.

When Should I See The Vet?

Thankfully most dog owners don’t need to visit the vet to treat a hot spot. However, there are times when going to the vet is required.

These include:

  • No improvement after 4-5 days
  • Your dog has a fever
  • Your dog has become lethargic
  • Blood and pus coming out

If any of those apply to your dog, be sure to take them to the vet ASAP. It could be something more than just a hot spot.

How To Prevent Future Hot Spots

The best way to prevent your dog from developing hot spots in the future is to groom them regularly, including bathing them at least once per month with doggy shampoo.

Remember, the primary reason hot spots appear on dogs in the first place is because of excessive licking or scratching of a particular area. If you groom and bathe your dog frequently, you’ll eliminate the source of discomfort for your dog.

We understand that it can be very frustrating when your pup develops a hot spot. Dogs are part of our family, and all we want is for them to be healthy and pain-free. That’s why it’s essential to start treatment as soon as possible. The longer you delay, the longer your dog will be in pain.

One final note, even if you are the “perfect” pet parent, sometimes your dog will still get one of these sores. Don’t beat yourself up over it, all you can do is begin the treatment ASAP and then take the steps to hopefully prevent it from happening again in the future.

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