How to Relieve Your Dog’s Itchy, Hot Spots

Have you ever come home to find your dog obsessively itching, scratching or licking a spot on their skin?

If so, she may have a hot spot. Hot spots are skin irritations, also known as moist dermatitis, that are created when your dog’s natural bacteria overpopulates the skin as a result of damage to its surface.

Anything that irritates the skin, such as an allergic reaction, insect bite, mites or poor grooming can cause a hot spot. A bath, jog in the rain or quick swim in the lake can also create the perfect dirty, damp and warm environment for bacteria to multiply.

Hot spots start off pretty innocuous; it’s when your over zealous dog begins to “work” at the spot that oozing, inflamed infections occur.

If the spot is small, not painful and caught early, you may be able to treat it at home, but it’s always best to consult a veterinarian to find out if your dog needs antibiotics or prescription-strength medication to treat the lesion. Your vet may also need to determine the underlying cause for the hot spot to prevent further infections.

To relieve your dog’s itch and pain in the meantime, here are some steps you can take at home.

Trim around the infected area

You will need to trim the area around the lesion with animal clippers. This will allow the infection to breathe and for the medicine to do its work. If you don’t have animal clippers handy, you can use electric clippers. You may need a muzzle or a friend to hold your dog’s head while you work.

First, fill the wound with a water-soluble liquid. Cut the fur back around the wound until you have about a one-inch border. The height of the hair should be cut down to about half an inch.

After you’ve finished trimming, rinse the area thoroughly with warm water.

Cleanse the infected area

Clean the infected area with a non-irritating solution, such as an antiseptic liquid soap, antiseptic spray or a mild soap, and warm water. Pat dry and allow to dry completely before applying medication.

You’ll also want to apply a warm compress three times daily to keep the area clean and encourage good circulation.

Apply a soothing treatment

After the wound is clean, you can apply a soothing treatment. Avoid using anything with stinging or astringent properties on an open wound. For a natural approach, try raw aloe or apply a cool chamomile tea bag to the infected area.

If you choose to use a cream or spray, make sure it’s pet-safe and veterinarian approved, like this hot spot spray for dogs by Great Life.

Protect the hot spot

In order to heal, hot spots need to breathe so you don’t want to wrap or bandage the area. You do, however, need to protect the area from your dog.

Yep, you got it. The cone of shame. You can purchase a recovery cone at your local pet store. Watch your dog closely and don’t allow him to lick, scratch or itch the area while it’s healing.

Meet the Author: Rebekah Olsen

Rebekah Olsen is a professional writer and wordsmith. She has a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Memphis, and enjoys writing about pet care. You can learn more about her at

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