Hot spots are common self-inflicted wounds that occur when a dog consistently scratches, licks or chews on the skin.
If you notice your dog has a hot spot, be sure to take him to a veterinarian immediately. The longer you wait, the more infected the lesion may become.
To care for your dog’s hot spots, the vet will:
- Shave or clip the infected area – This will allow air to the sore which will result in drying out the excess pus and moisture. Light anesthesia may be necessary, depending on the severity and depth of the hot spot.
- Clean the lesion – Your vet will use a gentle shampoo or antiseptic spray.
- Administer medication – The vet will apply hydrocortisone cream to prevent itching. A cortisone injection may also be given to promote faster healing.
- Run tests on your dog – The cause of any hot spots will need to be determined in order to decide how to best prevent them from reoccurring. These tests may include skin scraping, cultures, allergy or blood testing.
Once the hot spots are properly cleaned, your vet will offer a variety of treatment options to ensure a speedy recovery:
- Topical antibiotic ointments, sprays or creams such as Vetericyn or Betagen that will clean the wound while killing the bacteria
- Oral antibiotic
- Medication to prevent skin parasites
- Elizabethan collar to prevent further licking and biting to the lesion
- Dietary supplements like omega fatty acids or diet adjustments
- Corticosteroids such as Prednisone to reduce inflammation
- Antihistamines to relieve itching
The most effective way to heal the wound is to rid it of any bacterial infections. Clearing out the bacteria will relieve the dog’s pain and eliminate the itching sensation.
Home remedies are a great way to keep your dog comfortable prior to or after you have visited the vet. These remedies are not intended to cure your dog’s hot spots. Hot spots will continue to occur if your pet is not taken to a vet to determine their underlying cause. These remedies will, however, assist in soothing your dog’s discomfort:
- Keep The Area Clean – It is important to keep the area clean with gentle non-irritating shampoo, water-based cleanser or a salt water solution. Rinse the area often and dry it gently.
- Cool It – Place a cool compress on the lesion several times a day to soothe itching and relieve minor swelling.
- Use Positive Distractions – Ensure your dog does not continue to bite, lick or scratch the area. Try to keep his mind off of the itch by going for a walk, playing in the park, etc. If he is still licking the area, then make an Elizabethan collar out of cardboard, get one from your vet or purchase one online. E-collars can be very clumsy and awkward for a dog to wear. The internet provides a variety of alternatives that will allow your dog more comfort than the traditional plastic or cardboard ones while still preventing them from chewing or licking the hot spots.
- Tea Time – The tannic acids found in tea can be beneficial to hot spots on dogs as it assists in healing sores. Just steep a non-herbal black tea bag in hot water, allow it to cool, and set the bag directly on the lesion for several minutes. This will dry out any excess moisture from the hot spot. Repeat this process multiple times a day. Using the water the tea was steeped in can also be utilized in a spray or as a cool compress.
- Try Some Witch Hazel – Witch Hazel can soothe and cool the skin and/or infected area. Witch Hazel is a plant that is used commonly for herbal remedies on both humans and animals. Witch hazel contains high amounts of tannins, a chemical that helps to repair open wounds, fight bacteria and reduce swelling.
- Spray It – Topical sprays are non-irritating and non-toxic, thus allowing the wound to heal. Although many require a prescription from the vet, pet supply stores commonly sell a small variety of topical sprays for hot spots on dogs.
- Buy Some Burow’s – Over-the-counter products like Burow’s solution, made with aluminum acetate, assists in drying out the infected area.
- Use Vicks VapoRub – The menthol contained in Vicks VapoRub relieves itching of the infected area. Dogs do not care for the smell or taste of the menthol, so the VicksVapoRub doubles as a method to prevent your pet from licking its hot spots.
To further prevent hot spots on dogs, as well as other skin and health problems, it is wise to feed your pet a dietary supplement as well as a well-balanced diet that includes omega fatty acids. This will give your dog a healthy coat while avoiding further issues with hot spots. Aside from maintaining an adequate diet, grooming and exercise can further prevent hot spots on dogs by keeping them calm and comfortable, thus ridding their hot spots of bacteria. If you follow these tips, your dog will be able to heal quickly while experiencing minimal pain or discomfort.