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Vet Talks: Why Do Dogs Get Hot Spots And What Can You Do To Avoid Them?

Vet Talks 6 min read
Vet Talks: Why Do Dogs Get Hot Spots And What Can You Do To Avoid Them?

Why Do Dogs Get Hot Spots?

Hot Spot on dogs is a common skin condition that is also known as acute moist dermatitis. In this Vet Talks article, I  want to share with you the causes, prevention, treatments, and natural remedies for hot spots in dogs.

Fur and itchy dry skin can be an ideal environment for bacteria to grow.

Did you know the skin is the largest organ of the body? It’s always susceptible to injuries. It is the first barrier between the body and the outside world.  Moist dermatitis or a “hot spot” is a condition that involves an area of skin that has become inflamed and infected, leading to a raw, moist lesion on the skin. These lesions are extremely itchy and uncomfortable.

Common Causes of Hot Spots on Dogs To Watch Out For

Any condition that can cause damage to the skin can technically cause a hot spot. This happens because damage breaks the surface of the skin and allows bacteria to grow and proliferate. If left untreated, this leads to a warm, moist lesion that becomes a hot spot. Here are some common causes of hot spots on dogs:


Fur and itchy dry skin can be an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and cause a troubling infection like Pyoderma. This usually affects the area of the dog’s trunk (back and belly), and the common symptoms include intense itching and reddening ulcers.

A Natural anti-allergy blend for dogs is NHV Stimmune, which can be beneficial as it works as a natural antibiotic, supports the immune system, and encourages a healthy response to food allergies and skin allergies (dermatitis).

Fungal Infection

There are two common fungal skin infections in pets – yeast infections and ringworm infections. Yeast infections are usually caused by food or environmental allergies, or even thyroid imbalance. Tinea, or ‘ring worm’ is not a worm at all, but a fungus or mold-like parasite that develops in a damp skin patch obstructed from ventilation. It is transmitted through contact with an animal that has this disease. It causes alopecia (loss of hair) and reddened lesions.

A helpful natural blend for dogs with bacterial or fungal infections is NHV Felimm. This natural formula contains great herbs that are known to help fight fungal, viral, and bacterial infections. If the cause of the hot spot is ringworm or yeast or bacterial infection, Felimm will help the body fight it and promote healing.

Flea Allergies

Allergic reactions can be triggered by various things – sweat, ticks, flea, shampoo, or even a garment that your dog is wearing! The itch spurred by an allergic reaction can become a hot spot. Amongst all of them, allergies caused by flea bites are more common in veterinary dermatology. The allergen, in this case, is the saliva of the flea. When the flea bites the animal, intense pruritus (itch) occurs. This can cause hair loss and wounds that eventually lead to hot spots.

Mange in Dogs

pibull manges

Mange is caused by mites and can lead to very nasty hot spots and sores. Scabies or sarcoptic mange is contagious and can even be transmitted to humans. Black mange is not contagious, but it is genetic. Sores on the skin can release secretions and cause a very strong odor. You can learn more about mange and how to help a dog with it in Dr. Cook’s article on mange.


Paw before after NHV stimmune and ouch away spray
Itchy paw – before after NHV Stimmune and NHV Ouch Away Spray

Dogs can injure their own skin by licking and gnawing on areas such as their paws and belly. This can be due to stress, or separation anxiety, or discomfort (in joints, for example). Sometimes dogs will gnaw on their fur simply out of boredom. It is important to ensure that your furry friend receives plenty of mental and physical stimulation according to their breed and age.

NHV Lesstress helps reduce anxiety caused by separation or a stressful situation or illness. A calming blend like NHV Lesstress can help soothe the nervous system.


Another exacerbating factor in hot spots is moisture. If a pet has any one of these underlying conditions and is also exposed to moisture, whether by swimming, bathing, or humid environments, this creates favorable conditions for bacteria to grow and fester into a hot spot.

hot spots in dogs caused due to bacteria
Hot spots in dogs caused due to bacterial infection
Hot spots in dogs caused by excessive licking
Hot spots in dogs caused by excessive licking
hot spots in dogs caused by swimming and not drying properly
Hot spots in dogs caused by swimming and not drying properly

It is important that you thoroughly dry your pet after a bath or swimming to avoid prolonged moisture contact with the skin. This is especially true for long, double-coated breeds such as golden retrievers, German shepherds, chow chows, Labradors, and more.

Other Possible Causes of Hot Spots on Dogs

There are many other causes that can lead to hot spots: burns, leishmaniasis, fights with other animals, carcinomas, vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels), metabolic changes, and sometimes mistreatment.

Possible Complications of Hot Spots on Dogs

If the animal does not receive prompt and appropriate treatment, hot spots can progress to:

  • Skin Infections
  • Abscesses
  • Myiases (“flystrike” or maggots)
  • Metastases (such as carcinomas)

How to Treat Hot Spots on Dogs

If you are able to easily place its origin, there are natural remedies that can help restore healthy skin and get rid of the itch and inflammation.  If you cannot identify the cause, you should head to the vet to understand how to help your dog. Any medicine or ointment that the vet prescribes or any remedy that our Pet Experts recommend will depend on the cause of the hot spot

Natural remedies are helpful for hot spots on dogs. Do ensure that you take advice from veterinary professionals and that you are consistent and administer the product daily according to instructions. I say this because hot spots can reoccur if you abandon treatment as soon as you see them disappear.

Vet formulated NHV supplements and remedies for hot spots on dogs

Natural topical ointment and sprays for hot spots on dogs

NHV Ouch Away Spray helps calm skin irritation and also promotes fur growth. NHV All Clear Ointment helps against bacterial infection and will help reduce redness and inflammation.

Here are some tips on how to use a topical antiseptic such as NHV Ouch Away Spray or All Clear Ointment

  • Keep your hands clean
  • Immobilize the animal, making sure they feel safe
  • Clip the hair around the affected area with electric clippers, never use scissors. Get professional help or assistance if needed.
  • If there is bleeding, apply pressure with a clean cloth or gauze until the bleeding stops
  • Gently wipe the wound with saline and pat dry
  • Apply the antiseptic spray or anti-bacterial cream.
  • If using both the spray and the ointment –  use the Ouch Away Spray first. Spray it on the affected area and let the skin soak it in for 15-20 minutes. Then gently apply the All Clear Ointment.
  • Make sure you avoid using them on an open wound or in the eyes, mouth, nose, or inside the ears

It is not recommended to bandage to cover the hot spot because it will make the area a perfect place for the proliferation of anaerobic bacteria, which cannot thrive when in contact with oxygen. An E-collar, or “cone” will prevent your pet from licking the area.


It is important to remember that these steps are palliative measures. Some cases of hot spots on dogs that I have handled were quite serious and urgent. Therefore you should not attempt to diagnose your dog on your own.

A veterinarian can correctly diagnose the cause of the hot spot on dogs and indicate the appropriate treatment, which may be through conventional treatments such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, shampoos, ointments or through natural remedies, or both. If your furry friend is having hot spots and you would like to know more about the right treatment, please reach out to me. I’ll always be thankful to be able to help you. 

You can consult Dr. Amanda here or get a customized diet plan for your pet made from her. Learn more about prevention for hot spots on dogs using vet-formulated and vet-approved natural pet remedies from NHV Natural Pet Products on our website.

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda completed her undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine in 2010 and graduate studies in veterinary pathology (MVSc. 2012 and PhD 2016) at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of São Paulo. She completed her post-doctoral training at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine – University of Saskatchewan in 2018. Dr. Nascimento will be hosting her own blog series and sharing her knowledge with our extended NHV family.

Published: December 21, 2018

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