How to Treat Hot Spots and Irritated Skin in Dogs

Dogs are prone to certain skin conditions like hot spots or irritated skin, especially during summer months. These conditions are uncomfortable and painful for our dog, they certainly affect their quality of life.

Although some severe cases can only be addressed by veterinarians you can also treat irritated skin and hot spots at home. Keeping your dog’s skin healthy is key to have a happy dog. This article will explain to you how to identify these conditions and treat them successfully.

How to Keep Your Dog’s Skin Healthy?

It is important to keep your dog’s skin healthy. Certain basic ways to do it are regular grooming to release oils that will provide you a shiny coat and help to keep the skin moisture, don’t over bathe your dog because it could lead to dry skin and irritation and avoid using products with fragrance or harsh chemicals that could cause any kind of irritation.

Hot Spots on Dogs

Hot spots are also known as acute moist dermatitis. They can appear anywhere on a dog’s body and consist of areas of inflamed, red, and infected skin that is usually itchy and painful.

There can also be some type of hair loss. If you notice your dog is constantly licking, scratching, or chewing the area then he is more prone to suffering hot spots.

Allergies to dust mites, trees, other things of the environment or certain types of food, insect bites, skin wounds or anything that irritates the skin can create the environment for a bacterial infection that could develop into a hot spot. Dogs tend to lick or scratch the affected area but this can only make the hot spot worse.

How to Prevent Hot Spots

Dogs with long and dense coats are more prone to suffering from hot spots so if your dog has that type of coat groom him regularly to prevent it from matting.

Matted coat traps parasites and moisture creating the ideal environment for hot spots. Regularly check your dog to make sure that it is free of fleas and ticks. Contact the veterinarian if you notice that your dog seems constantly itchy.

How to Treat Hot Spots

1.) Trim the hair that is surrounding the area

Trim the hair with dog hair clippers, if the area is too big, shave it. Make sure that your dog feels comfortable while trimming the hair, you can get a second person to help you hold the dog and comfort him. Make sure that you safely remove your dog’s hair.

This will make the cleaning of the area easier and allow you to apply the topical products correctly. When the area is exposed to air the moisture will dry out easier which prevents the accumulation of bacteria, help the products work better and speed up the healing process.

2.) Clean the area

Now that the area is trimmed, use ph appropriate cleanser, and astringent or antiseptic spray. You can also use a shampoo that is specifically formulated for hot spots. Apply a cold compress or washcloth to relieve irritation.

3.) Reduce the itching

One of the most important steps is to reduce the itching and irritation so your dog stops licking and scratching the area. Apply a prescription hydrocortisone spray or cream (talk to the veterinarian to get the prescription).

There are also other topical hot spot treatments that are able to relieve the irritation and pain as well as help your dog feel more comfortable. Apply the topical treatments 3 or 4 times a day or as the veterinary indicates.

4.) Use a plastic cone if needed

It is important that your dog stops licking and scratching because the hot spot will take longer to heal and it will worsen the area. If you notice that your dog is doing it too much place a plastic cone around his neck to prevent him from licking or biting.

5.) The maintenance is important

Regularly check and clean the affected area. Remember that the healing process won’t be immediate it will completely heal in a few days or a couple of weeks.

6.) Veterinary Care

If the hot spot is too severe or doesn’t heal with the at-home treatment then you need to take your dog to the veterinary to get a more intense treatment like oral antibiotics or cortisone injections.

Irritated Skin on Dogs

Skin irritations are some of the most common conditions that affect your dog’s quality of life. If these irritations are untreated they could develop to a serious skin infection.

If your dog has an irritated skin he will regularly be scratching, biting or licking its skin. These are the most common causes of skin irritations:

  • Infections: If your dog suffers a cut he could develop a skin infection. Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection that causes hair loss, itchiness, and pimples. The skin will look dry and flaky. Yeast infections are caused by the fungus Malassezia pachydermatis, this infection will thicken the skin, cause redness, and itchiness. Certain hereditary factors can make a dog more prone to skin infections.
  • Allergies: Your dog can suffer allergies to environmental things like dust mites, fertilizers or cleaning products, and certain foods.
  • Parasites: Fleas and ticks can cause skin irritation.
  • Endocrine disorders or hormonal imbalances: Certain conditions like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease include symptoms that affect the skin.
  • Genetics: Certain breeds like cocker spaniels or standard poodles are more prone to developing skin irritations.

How to Prevent Skin Irritation

Make sure your dog has a proper and well-balanced diet that includes all the correct nutrients to promote and healthy skin. A healthy diet also increases their immune system and this is important to prevent the overgrow of mites.

Use a soothing shampoo to bath your dog that contains nourishing ingredients that provide relief and make the skin stronger. Use flea and tick preventatives that also protect your dog from sarcoptic mange mites.

Regularly check your dog and if you notice that he has ticks remove them properly and don’t squeeze the tick’s body to prevent infections.

Regularly wash the dog’s bedding and clean your house frequently to avoid the build-up of dust mites or allergens in things like the carpets.

If you suspect your dog has a food allergy make a diary to check which food may be causing digestive symptoms and skin irritations to your dog.

How to Treat Skin Irritation

The most important step to treat your dog’s skin irritation is to diagnose the cause because each type of skin irritation has a different treatment.

1.) Infections

If your dog is affected by a bacterial infection the ideal treatment will be antibiotics. The veterinary will perform a test to determine which type of antibiotic is the right one for your dog and could also prescribe a medicated shampoo that will boost the results of the antibiotics.

In the case of yeast and fungal infections, they can be treated with specific antifungal shampoos and medications.

2.) Food Allergies

If your dog is suffering a food allergy your veterinary performs a diet trial so your dog can eat a different diet than what he normally consumes and once the allergen is identified it will be excluded from the diet.

3.) Allergies

First, the veterinary will have to determine the allergen by performing allergy testing and intradermal skin testings. The treatment may include antihistamines and treating secondary skin infection.

4.) Hormonal conditions

The veterinary will have to treat both the hormonal imbalance and skin irritation.

5.) Nutritional dermatitis

Your dog can experience skin irritation from a lack of proper nutrition so supplement your dog’s food with omega 3 and vitamin C to support his immune system and help him have a healthy and shiny coat.

6.) Management of itching

Itching is one of the most common symptoms of skin irritation the most effective treatment is administering glucocorticoids which are anti-inflammatory steroids that can relieve irritation and reduce itching but they can only be prescribed by the veterinary.

Topical glucocorticoids can also be administered and don’t have the same serious side effects of oral ones.


Skin conditions like hot spots and skin irritation negatively impact the quality of life of your dog. If your dog has a poor nutritional diet, food allergy, or genetic predisposition he is more likely going to develop a skin condition like hot spot and irritations.

These conditions can affect any area of your dog’s body and cause a lot of discomfort to your pet. He will lick, bite and scratch the area but this will only worsen the condition.

Once you suspect that your dog may have a skin condition take him to the veterinary to determine the cause.

In the case of hot spots, there are things you can do at home like removing ticks, regularly grooming, trimming the area, keeping it clean, using topical applications, and using shampoos with rich ingredients to keep your pet’s skin healthy but some severe cases require prescription medications, injections and other treatments that can only be provided by a veterinary.

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