Hot spot is the term for a spot so itchy on a dog that it is often inflamed, bald and/or leaks pus. Other names for hot spots include summer sores, pyotraumatic dermatitis, acute moist dermatitis and superficial pyoderma. The dog may scratch, chew or rub on it incessantly.
Hot spots can be caused from allergies, skin irritations or bacterial infections. They need time to heal but are intensely itchy, so the dog continues to scratch them open and will not give them the chance they need to heal. This is where home remedies can help. But they are only to be used in conjunction with conventional veterinary medicine. Please do not use this article in the place of a veteriarian’s diagnosis.
If the dog has a thick coat, trimming around the fur around the area will help keep the hot spot from getting irritated. Fur can also drag dirt into any open sores. A trim also makes applying topical medication to the spot a lot easier.
When the fur around the hot spots is trimmed, clean the sores. “The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats” (Bantam Books; 1996) recommends using Betadine Solution, an over the counter antibacterial over the counter liquid made for people. Soak a cotton ball and dab the sore twice a day. If the sore is crusted over, make a warm compress with old, clean washcloth and hold against the sore for 10 to 15 minutes to help loosen any crusty material and then dab with Betadine.
1% hydrocortisone cream applied twice a day can help soothe the itch of hot spots. It is sold over the counter for people. Only apply a thin layer so it dries quickly. If the dog licks it off, the cream won’t do any good. Either have the dog wear an Elizabethan collar or distract the dog with a treat so the cream will dry.
Another way to dry out any wet, oozing sores is to use Burow’s Solution (the brand name for aluminum acetate and water). Contact your vet before using the latter because some dogs are allergic to it. Some dogs also like the soothing relief from aloe vera gel made for humans. Others take vitamin E capsules, pierce them and let the solution drip onto the sore. All vitamin E does is help ease itching but does not kill any bacteria.
Fleas, lice and ticks cause a dog to scratch. If they already have hot spots, these critters can cause a dog to scratch open the hot spots. Keeping up with parasite prevention can keep dogs from scratching. According to “Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” (Howell Book House, 2007), dogs with thick coats that get wet need to be thoroughly dried because any lingering moisture can harbor bacteria which may cause more hot spots.
But in the meantime, the dog can’t keep scratching the hot spots open. The dog will have to wear an Elizabethan collar or a BiteNot collar until the hot spots heal.
“Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, Fourth Edition.” Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, et al. Howell Book House, 2007
“The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats.” Matthew Hoffman, et al. Bantam Books; 1996.
Dog Owner’s Guide. “Hot Spots.” http://www.canismajor.com/dog/hotspots.html