What are Hot Spots in Dogs?

Skin diseases in dogs come in all shapes and sizes and stem from many different places. The most common that we hear about are hot spots.

Hot spots in dogs is also known as acute dermatitis. It is a painful and itchy dog skin disease that appears red from the area of infected skin.
Hot spots can appear anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the head, limbs and hips. They are usually minor but if left untreated has the potential to escalate further.


Labrador with hotspot scratching


What do hotspots look like in dogs?

Hot spots typically appear red in colour and show swelling or inflammation on the skin and coat. They are often moist and may have pus coming from the area.

Some hot spots may also be accompanied by hair loss surrounding the infected area. 

Be sure to look out for these signs and symptoms of hot spots in dogs:

  • Itchy, painful patch of skin
  • Inflammation, redness and swelling
  • Crusted scabs or oozing sores
  • Dry scaly skin
  • Constant chewing or licking at site
  • Abnormal aggression associated with site 

What causes hot spots in dogs?

Underlying conditions are commonly the root of where hot spots develop from.

These can include problems such as:

  • Dog skin allergies (fleas, food, seasonal, etc)
  • Ear infections
  • Excessive moisture from swimming or bathing
  • Excessive licking
  • Poor grooming
  • Anal gland inflammation 

Warm weather and/or high humidity can also add to the risk due to the extra moisture in the air!

Hot spots can spread across a dog’s body if they excessively lick, chew or scratch at the infected area.


Labrador with hotspots, skin and coat supplement for dogs


Which breeds of dog are more likely to suffer from hot spots?

Whilst any breed of dog can experience hot spots, those that have thicker or longer coats are more susceptible. It is easier for them to hold moisture in their coats, creating the perfect environment for hot spots to develop.

Thick-haired coat breeds include but are not limited to:

  • Golden Retreiver
  • Saint Bernard 
  • German Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Rottweiler

Long-haired coat breeds include but are not limited to:

  • Long-haired Dachshund
  • Maltese
  • Shih Tzu
  • Havenese
  • Yorkshire Terrier

How do you treat hot spots in dogs?

To have more chance at treating a dog’s hot spot so it doesn’t return, it’s best that we first find the root of the problem!

Treating an underlying condition is more likely to clear hot spots up and allow a dog to feel more comfortable. 

If you notice that your dog’s condition worsens over time, is getting bigger, has a foul smell, is becoming discoloured or bleeding or your dog is showing signs of discomfort then seek help from your vet.

A vet may prescribe oral antibiotics, anti-itch medication or even an e collar to relieve symptoms of hot spots in dogs. It usually takes around 5-7 days after beginning treatment to see a difference or resolution.

Fish oil for dogs or other omega 3 supplements are a fantastic way to balance fatty acids in a dog’s body. Supplements are preferred due to their ability to keep for longer and not cause oxidative stress. 

Omega 3 has an alleviating effect on over-reactive immune systems and is most commonly known for its ability to restore sensitive skin health and maintain coat shine. Petz Park Skin + Coat for Dogs includes high important omega 3's (EPA and DHA). It helps to relieve dry skin, reduce dandruff and minimise external allergies.


There are some home remedies that can be used in the event that it is not a matter of urgency.

  • Clip the fur around the infected area. This is to avoid matting in your dog’s coat. Make sure to use clippers designed for dogs rather than regular scissors.
  • Try your best to stop your dog from licking or biting the infected area, (might be easier said than done!).
  • Keep the infected area clean with antibacterial sprays or wipes. Before applying any creams or ointments, ensure the area is completely dry.
  • Give your dog an oatmeal bath. If you’re wondering how to make an oatmeal bath for your dog, we’ll list the steps right below:
    • Add 1 cup of whole oat oatmeal to a blender and blend until the oatmeal is a fine powder. Make sure the oatmeal is not mixed with anything else.
    • Fill a tub or large bucket with warm water. Be careful that this isn’t too hot so not to burn your dog! If you are bathing your dog outside in hotter temperatures, lower temperatures are fine. Pour the crushed oatmeal into the tub and stir in.
    • Allow your dog into the bathtub and allow them to soak for 5-10 minutes. If your dog won't sit still in the bathtub, pour the oatmeal mix onto his skin and coat and gently rub it in.
    • Rinse your dog and dry them with a towel. Brush your dog whilst they are still damp. Brushing your dog can help to remove dead skin, flakes, flea eggs and excess hair that may be contributing to itchiness. Be sure to use a brush that is appropriate for your dog.


dog poodle cross at the groomers


How to prevent hot spots in dogs

It is important to take precautions rather than solve problems when it comes to skin and coat care in dogs. Keep them looking and feeling their best with these helpful skin and coat care tips!

Always dry your dog thoroughly. Whether they’ve been swimming, walking whilst raining or bathing, ensure your dog isn’t keeping excess moisture trapped inside their coat. Use can simply use a towel to give them a good rub down after.

Groom your dog regularly. This keeps their coat intact and healthy. Your groomer will also be able to tell if your dog’s has any skin or coat issues whilst treating them. 

Keep on top of your dog’s hygiene. Know when is too much and when is the perfect amount of washing your dog. Regularly brush them using a brush that is appropriate for them.

Use parasite prevention. Not only will they thank you for it but you’ll probably thank yourself too! Avoid fleas and ticks and the aftermath by using flea and tick prevention products.

Many hotspots are caused by underlying problems such as allergies. Manage allergies in dogs by avoiding foods they are allergic to, using treatment or supplements that subside symptoms or prevention tools.

Keep your dog mentally stimulated. Your dog may be bored and excessively licking and biting themselves as a result. By keeping them entertained with brain games, food puzzles or exercise, you may just eliminate their desire to entertain themselves in this way.


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