dog hot spots in boston, ma

Dog Hot Spots: What They are and Treatment Options

Have you ever heard of hot spots on dogs? Do you know what this term means? Has your dog been dealing with hot spots lately? What can you do to help your pet recover from this uncomfortable skin condition?

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, or if you’re just looking for more information about hot spots, you’re in the right place. In this article, you’ll find information about canine hot spots and how you can help your dog deal with them. Although hot spots are not a life-threatening problem, they can be very unpleasant for your dog, and it’s important to take care of them as soon as possible.

What are Hot Spots?

Hot spots are open sores on a dog’s skin. These sores may start small, but with time, they typically spread and open further. The skin may become broken, and the hot spots may ooze with blood or pus, depending on the severity of the hot spot in question.

These sores are caused by bacteria on the surface of the dog’s skin. When the dog’s skin becomes wet, bacteria multiply. As soon as there is any opening—like a small cut in the skin—the bacteria find their way into the lower layers, building up quickly and causing an infection that can be very difficult to get rid of.

What are the Risk Factors for Hot Spots?

There are many different causes of hot spots in dogs including moisture, allergies, infections and more.


Moisture is the most common risk factor for hot spots in dogs. Dogs who spend a lot of time playing in the water or who get bathed frequently are at a greater risk of hot spots than those who do not. If your dog swims in natural bodies of water, this may further increase their risk of hot spots, as this type of activity will typically expose them to more bacteria in the water than swimming in a pool might.


Dogs with food allergies and intolerances are often more prone to skin health problems than those who do not have these problems. However, food intolerance and allergy alone do not cause hot spots.


Dogs who have already been injured in some way or who have an existing infection are at a greater risk of hot spots. If your dog has an open sore on their skin already, this may quickly turn into a hot spot without proper care.

Compromised Immune System

Dogs who have compromised immune systems may be more likely to develop hot spots than healthy dogs. Some types of illnesses, conditions, and medications may contribute to immune system deficiencies in your dog, which can lead to frequent hot spots.

Treatments for Dog Hot Spots

There are many treatment options that your veterinarian can recommend to help your dog with hot spots.

Keep the Area Dry

The most important factor in treating hot spots is keeping the hot spots dry while they heal. Any time the hot spot gets wet, it will start the infection process over again. Keep healing hot spots very dry and make sure your dog leaves them alone as much as possible.


You may be able to treat hot spots with over-the-counter hot spot ointment that is sold at pet stores. This type of treatment works best for mild to moderate hot spots, but typically won’t work very well for severe ones. It may also cause your dog to aggravate the spot more, depending on the situation.

Prescription from Your Vet

Your vet may prescribe topical ointment at a prescription strength for your dog’s hot spots. This ointment must be given according to your vet’s directions. Never put human ointment on your dog without being told to do so by your vet.

Shot or Oral Medication from Your Vet

Your veterinarian may give your dog a shot or an oral medication to help them recover quicker from the hot spot. This type of medication may include steroids, antibiotics, or both, depending on the type and severity of the hot spot in question. Your vet can give you more information about this type of treatment.

Prognosis for Hot Spots

Most dogs can easily recover from hot spots if you keep up very carefully with the proper treatment. It may take several weeks for the infection to clear up, but following the treatment plan provided by your vet can help you speed up the process as much as possible.

Anything that causes the dog’s skin to get wet or irritated again during the healing process may cause a setback. Take extra care to avoid letting your dog get wet while they are recovering from hot spots and consider using an E-collar if your dog has trouble leaving the hot spots alone.

Your Vet Can Help with Hot Spots

With the help of this information, you should be able to recognize hot spots on your dog before they get out of hand. If you have any further questions or concerns about recognizing, treating, or preventing hot spots on your dog, book an appointment with your Boston Veterinary Clinic vet.