Dog Care – How to Treat a Hot Spot

Acute moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis, commonly known as hot spots are usually red, itchy and oozing skin infections which can emerge at anytime and anywhere on your dogs’ body. Until Bunk, I had never experienced or seen this type of skin condition but during the last few years we became kind of self-taught experts on hot spots, its causes and treatments so today I would like to share my knowledge with you.

Acute moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis, commonly known as hot spots are usually red, itchy and oozing skin infections which can emerge at anytime and anywhere on your dogs’ body. Until Bunk, I had never experienced or seen this type of skin condition but during the last few years we became kind of self-taught experts on hot spots, its causes and treatments so today I would like to share my knowledge with you.

My first experience with hot spots was an extremely expensive learning process. It started with Bunk having a “bubu” on his head. Well, we all get scratched at some point so I decided to deal with it myself… I was cleaning it, drying and doing all I should do (or so I thought) but cutting a long story short, a week later we ended up at the vet, and after a few long hours of procedures which included the sedating of the dog, lots of cleaning and scraping of the wound, we were finally presented with a half bald Bunk, no actual answers as to the cause of his malady and for the pleasure a £500 vet bill (no, at this time, we didn’t have dog insurance, so we just had to pay it… lesson learnt). This expensive mistake led me to seeking knowledge of the main root causes and at the same time what home treatments are there for hot spots.

When you read about hot spots on the net a lot of articles state that poor grooming is one of the reasons for it… well it might be so but most of the time Bunk is very well groomed and he still has them. The other reason offered are fleas, ticks, mites etc… again, my dog has never had any of these, yet he does have hot spots… the point I am trying to make is that hot spots can come and go and if you have a dog prone to them, it really isn’t necessarily your fault, it is just the way it is. It took me a long time to understand this, as for weeks or even months I was blaming myself for Bunks skin infections.

There is no underlying reason for Bunks hot spot as we know of. I know that some food types make it worse so now he is on a gluten free raw diet, which seems to be helping. I know that wet weather condition can make it worse so we do our best to keep him as dry as possible especially after each walk in the rain. I know that dry skin isn’t helping so he is fed coconut and fish oils on a daily basis, which helps with preventing them but also helps speed up the healing process once we have an outbreak.

Any dog can develop a hot spot, for a number of reasons, so it’s important to know how to deal with them once you encounter them.

How to treat a hot spot?

With hot spots time is of the essence. They can grow very fast, so once you spot it, it needs immediate attention… really I mean immediate as in right then at that moment, not later, after dinner or in the morning… trust me when it comes to hot spots time isn’t on your side.

Step 1 – Clip the hair over the top of it and all around it. This will allow you to monitor if the hot spot is growing but most of all it will allow you to move to step 2 easily. Yes, I know your dog may end up looking awkward and unsightly and this isn’t always an ideal solution but think about it this way: what would you prefer: a healthy dog or a pretty dog?

Step 2 – Clean the area with something anti-allergic. I personally use “grey soap”, it’s a type of soap with a much higher content of carboxylic acids, glycerol, citric acid, sodium chloride and no added dies or perfumes. It doesn’t cause irritations and it has drying properties. When you have cleaned the area completely then pat it dry with kitchen towel and move to the next step.

Step 3 – Disinfect the wound. You can use shop bought sprays or simply make one. If I run out of disinfectant I mix 1 part of Listerine (the original orangey one) with 4 parts of water and add a few drops of oil (almond one works for me). Mixed in a spray bottle it works perfectly and it does the job as it should.

Step 4 – Apply a topical help. Well, now this is a difficult one as self-treating hot spots can be tricky and it all will depend on how big it is, how advanced it is and where is it on their body. The type of things which work for us include: raw manuka honey, raw aloe, comfrey ointment and Gold Bond powder. They all speed up the healing process and gold bond is perfect for helping the wound dry out.

Step 5 – Keep your dog away from the wound. This is even trickier that picking what to use on the wound itself but once you tune your ear to the sound your dog makes when he or she is scratching, biting or licking you will be able to quickly act on it and stop them… or you can try one of those collars as used by the vet that looks like a lamp shade around their neck (we struggled to find one that would fit a Newfoundland and when we finally did, turns out Bunk hates them and besides that it became very obvious very quickly that he is way too big to be running around the house in one).

These are my steps for home treating a hot spot. They work for us but we have had years of practise…. You can treat them at home but I would recommend a vet visit if you are new to hot spots and you dog has never had one before as he/she might have an underlying cause for them. It’s important to seek professional help if you are in doubt after all vets are there to help us care for our pets.

Have you ever experienced a hot spot problem?

Do you have some different method for treating them?

*This is a collaborative post.

11 thoughts on “Dog Care – How to Treat a Hot Spot

  1. Sorry I don’t have a dog, but read your post and don’t want to leave without saying something.

    Your poor dog for having this condition, must be horrible. But sounds like you’ve got the hang of dealing with it. Which is just as well when the vet is charging that much for “treatment”.

    Our cat has a similar thing, am wondering if it could be the same kind of thing.

I love all comments :-)