How to Treat Your Dog’s Hot Spots

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Hot spots are areas of red, inflamed, irritated and infected skin that are typically damp, red, sore and smelly. And they can sometimes be oozy and crusty which sadly only adds insult to unfortunate injury. Commonly known as acute moist dermatitis, hot spots are officially called pyotraumatic dermatitis or pyoderma for short. Hot spots can begin with things as innocuous as an insect bite or a graze, appear anywhere on the body, and rapidly escalate into a massive problem in no time at all. Frustratingly, anything that causes your dog to chew or lick one particular area of its body can lead to a painful hot spot in pretty short order. Especially if the problem is not dealt with appropriately and quickly. Read on to learn more about how to treat dog hot spots!

What are hot spots?

As already mentioned, hot spots are areas of red-raw skin where the hair has invariably been worn away by your dog’s incessant biting or scratching. Hot spots can happen anywhere on the body, seemingly appear out of nowhere and rapidly become a major problem for both you and your dog.

Hot spots are generally wet in appearance, and the surrounding skin invariably angrily red where you dog is constantly trying to self-medicate without realising it’s making matters worse. If infected, the hot spot may ooze a foul-smelling liquid, which may result in the surrounding hair becoming matted.

What causes hot spots

As already mentioned, hot spots can result from a number of disparate issues. These include:

  • Repeated itching and scratching resulting from a skin infection such as bacterial overgrowth
  • Flea infestations and insect bites resulting in flea allergy dermatitis
  • Food sensitivities also known as food intolerances
  • Ear infections
  • Injury such as a cut or a graze
  • Summer heat if your dog has a thick and matted coat and the skin is unable to breathe
  • Environmental allergens such as grass or tree pollen and mould
  • Poor grooming practices
  • Stress and anxiety resulting in self-harming from insufficient exercise, mental stimulation or being left alone

My dietary consultation will focus on your dog’s specific health problem and provide you with a bespoke feeding plan customised to your dog's individual requirements.

Hot spots and digestive health

The skin is your dog’s largest organ. It makes up part of your dog’s immune system. There is a direct link between your dog’s skin and its gut (its stomach, small and large intestine), where the vast majority of its immune system resides. It’s called the skin-gut axis. Both the skin and the gut possess their own microbiome, millions and millions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa that contibute to your dog’s health and wellness.

It stands to reason that if your dog does not enjoy good gut health, if it has a poor diet, it is likely to suffer from poor skin health as a result. That’s why the first thing you need to address if your dog is suffering from hot spots is its diet!

How to treat dog hot spots

If your dog is suffering from hot spots, I would first and foremost urge you to consider the role of its diet. A poor diet results in poor gut health. Poor gut health can result in skin infections, diarrhoea, vomiting and many, many, more severe and chronic health issues. So if you want to know how to treat dog hot spots, the first person you should speak to is a dog nutritionist, someone trained in curing canine health problems naturally.

Sad to relate, most concerned pet parents rush to their local vet if their dog is suffering from hot spots. Vets are trained to treat symptoms. They are trained to medicate and not to investigate underlying causes. Medication is not the solution if your dog is suffering from hot spots. Proper nutrition from a qualified dog nutritionist should be the starting point if your dog is suffering from this distressing condition.

How else can you treat your dog’s hot spots

Having addressed the potential role of diet in healing your dog’s hot spots, you can also:

  • Clip the fur around the affected area. This allows the area to breathe and avoids the possibility of fur getting into the wound
  • Bathe the affected area with boiled and cooled, salty water
  • Apply bentonite (green) clay by carefully brushing it into the wound
  • Prevent your dog from licking or scratching the infected area
  • Let nature do the rest

And if your dog’s hot spots continue or worsen, please speak to your local dog nutritionist!

Gerald Pepin

Gerald Pepin

Canine Nutritionist

Gerald Pepin is a qualified canine nutritionist, writer, speaker and homemade dog food advocate. Gerald believes that good nutrition can improve or cure most canine health problems and that the natural way is always the best way when it comes to healing man's best friend. A life-long lover of German Shepherds, Gerald and his wife The Dog Chef have two GSDs and live in rural Somerset.


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