Tips On How To Soothe Hot Spots on Dogs

Hot Spot on the neck an English Bulldog. Uwe Gille/Wikimedia CC 2.0

Question: How To Soothe A Hot Spot - Some Quick Tips

These tips are NOT meant to replace the recommended trip to the vet, but rather, offer your pet some quick relief and to help quell the spread of the hot spot until your vet can see your pet.

Answer: The first thing to do is speak with your veterinarian and make sure you are dealing with a hot spot and not something else.

Due to the rapidity of spread and possibility of deeper skin infection, it is wise to start treatment with your vet.

Also, these hot spots can be very painful to the animal -- caution is advised, use a muzzle if need be for your protection.

  1. Shave the area. The first treatment for hot spots is to dry them out and get air to the area. Hair loss is a feature of hot spots, but hair can also mat over the inflamed area, covering up a potentially much more severe and large problem. NOTE: Most hot spots are very itchy-painful to the pet. I recommend seeing your veterinarian for this initial shave/clean-up. Some animals need sedation to do this. If you attempt to shave the affected area at home, please take appropriate precautions.
  2. Cleanse the area with cool water and a gentle skin cleanser.
  3. Cool compress the area 2-4 times a day with a cool wet washcloth.
  4. Medications - Depending on the severity and size of the hot spot, your veterinarian may prescribe oral antibiotics, topical drying sprays or medications, and/or special shampoos.
  1. Prevention of licking, biting, scratching -i.e. Elizabethan collar or "E-collar" cone or alternative.
  2. Additional home remedies that can be used until you can see your vet:
    • Topical wound-healing spray to relieve, soothe and heal. Be mindful of using anything on the skin, as pets can often lick it off. One product that is non-toxic if ingested and promotes wound healing is Vetericyn spray or gel spray.
    • tea bag compresses (black or green tea) to help dry the area out. Tea can be used as a wash or as a compress.
    • Domeboro's (Burow's) solution (aluminum acetate) - available over-the-counter at pharmacies to help dry the skin out. Can be used as a compress or as a spray.
    • Hydrocortisone creams - A thin film of an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream may give some immediate relief, but do not use in an area that can be reached by licking.

    I would recommend talking to your vet first -- in general, creams and ointments only serve to "gunk up" the area and prevent proper drying if used incorrectly. Also, if the pet licks it, you want to make sure that it isn't toxic.

    Additional Reading
    Glossary Term: Pyotraumatic Dermatitis