Hot Spot Treatment for Dogs and Cats

Hot Spot Treatment for Dogs and Cats
expert or vet photo
vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

Thumbnail of Kong E-Collar - Assorted

Kong E-Collar - Assorted

Collars & Tags
{{petcare_price|currency}} Price in Cart w/PetPlus {{petplus_price|currency}} See PetPlus Price in Cart

Hot spots are extremely painful and if treated incorrectly, can cause your pet even more pain and make the infection worse. Learn more here.

Hot spots should be treated in the manner suggested by your veterinarian. Improper treatment may result in a worsening of the infection or, at the very least, a painful experience for your pet. Because hot spots are so sensitive, some pets may need to be sedated or anesthetized before the initial treatment, and this should be carried out by a veterinarian.

Shave and Cleanse

The first step after identifying the causes is to shave the area so that it can be cleaned. While many hot spots cause your pet’s hair to fall out at the site, longer or thicker hairs can remain matted down, covering up or irritating the skin. Do not attempt to shave your pet without first consulting your veterinarian. They may suggest that you go into their office for the initial treatment, allowing your pet to be sedated or anesthetized to make the procedure easier and less painful.

Once the area is shaved, your pet should be cleansed with cool water and a gentle skin cleanser. Ensure that the cleanser does contain any irritants that may exacerbate the symptoms. Diluted povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine solutions are often recommended for their antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Suggested brands include Betadine and Nolvasan, both of which are available over the counter.

Shaving the area around the hot spot and cleansing your pet prepares the skin for whatever treatments will follow. Make sure that your pet’s skin is completely dry before moving forward with any topical applications or treatments.

Topical Creams and Powders

Depending on the severity of the infection, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotic steroid powders or creams such as Neocort or Panolog. These ointments not only contain antibiotics to destroy the infection, but they also have anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties to soothe your pet’s symptoms. Topical treatments are often applied for up to 14 days with two applications per day, but always follow the directions provided by your veterinarian.

Oral Antibiotics

In some cases, oral antibiotics may be prescribed in conjunction with a topical solution. Cephalosporins (such as Keflex), fluoroquinolones (such as Baytril or Cipro), and penicillins  (such as Amoxicillin and Clavamox) are the most common types of oral antibiotics used to treat hot spots. All are effective against a wide range of infections. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for the proper administration of these medications, and always make sure to complete the full course of antibiotics to keep the infection from returning.

Home Remedies

There are a number of home remedies that can be used to ease your pet’s discomfort and, in some cases, treat the infection if it is not severe. Always check with your veterinarian before trying any of these at-home remedies.

  • To soothe your pet’s pain, a cool, wet washcloth can be applied to the affected area several times a day. After using these compresses, always make sure that the skin and surrounding hair dries completely, especially in warm weather. Hair that is left wet is the perfect breeding ground for infection.
  • Tea compresses (black or green) can be used to dry out the area and reduce infection. Tea can also be used as a drying wash. Ask your veterinarian about the proper way to use tea or tea compresses to treat hot spots.
  • Over-the-counter solutions such as Domeboro (Burow’s) are often used to dry out the area. Domeboro is an aluminum acetate/astringent solution that, in some cases, will cause hot spots to scab over and heal. Check with your veterinarian before using any over-the-counter products.

Preventative Collars

Your pet’s hot spot won’t be able to heal if they continue to lick, bite, or scratch the affected area. In many cases, Elizabethan or No Bite collars are used to prevent your pet from reaching the hot spot. Elizabethan collars are conical shaped to keep your pet’s head quarantined from their body. This can be very helpful in the case of hot spots on the ears, as the pet is not able to scratch through the collar. This collar also keeps your pet from reaching affected areas with its mouth. No Bite collars are also recommended. However, not in the case of hot spots on the ears or head, as they will not keep your pet from reaching those areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is dog hot spot treatment good for cats?

Hot spots, also known as moist dermatitis, are common skin conditions that can affect both dogs and cats. The condition is characterized by red, irritated, and itchy skin that often becomes infected. In dogs, hot spots are typically caused by an underlying allergy or infection and can be treated with topical creams or ointments. However, cats have a different type of skin and fur than dogs, and the treatment for hot spots may vary. It's best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the cause of the hot spot and the most appropriate treatment. This is because certain treatments that are safe and effective for dogs may not be safe or appropriate for cats. Additionally, many over-the-counter products for hot spots contain ingredients that can be toxic to cats if ingested. It is best to use products specifically formulated for cats or to get a prescription from a veterinarian.

What is the best thing to put on a dog's hot spot?

Veterinarians may use a variety of treatments to address hot spots in dogs. The specific treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the hot spot, as well as the severity of the condition. The initial treatment for hot spots typically involves cleaning the affected area with a mild antiseptic solution to remove any debris and bacteria. This helps to reduce the chance of secondary infection and promotes healing. After cleaning the area, the veterinarian may apply a topical ointment, cream, or spray that contains hydrocortisone, a mild steroid that can help reduce inflammation and itching, and antibiotics to help prevent or treat secondary bacterial infections. Depending on the severity of the hot spot, the veterinarian may also recommend an Elizabethan collar or "cone of shame" to prevent the dog from licking or biting the hot spot. The vet may also recommend oral antibiotics, antihistamines, or anti-inflammatory medications to help manage symptoms and promote healing. Some vets may also prescribe medicated shampoos or dips to help treat the hot spot.

Do I need to go to a vet for hot spots?

It is generally recommended that you seek veterinary care for hot spots as they can be caused by underlying health issues and may require medical treatment. A veterinarian can examine your dog and determine the underlying cause of the hot spot, as well as the most appropriate course of treatment. If left untreated, hot spots can become infected and can lead to more severe skin problems. The vet will be able to clean the affected area and apply medication to soothe the skin and promote healing. They will also be able to recommend ways to prevent future hot spots from occurring. It's also important to note that if your dog is licking or biting the hot spot excessively, it can be painful and can also cause more damage to the skin. In this case, your veterinarian may recommend an Elizabethan collar to prevent your dog from licking or biting the hot spot.

Can I put Neosporin on my dog’s hot spot?

It is generally not recommended to use Neosporin or other over-the-counter human antibiotics on a dog's hot spot without consulting a veterinarian first. Neosporin is not specifically formulated for use on dogs and may contain ingredients that can be harmful to them. Additionally, Neosporin is not formulated to address the underlying causes of hot spots in dogs, which may require different treatment options.

More on Maintaining Healthy Skin and Coat

Dog Hot Spots: What is Flea Allergy Dermatitis?
Scrumptious Salmon for a Healthy Skin and Coat
Skin and Coat Care: A Pet Parent's Guide
The 5 Things to Know About Dog and Cat Dandruff
Natural and Homemade Shampoo for Dogs

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

Was this article helpful?
Hot Spots

You May Also Like

Image for Skin and Coat Care: A Pet Parent's Guide
Skin and Coat Care: A Pet Parent's Guide

The When and the How for Choosing the Right Skin and Coat Products for Your Dogs and Cats

Read More