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 cleansed. 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, 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.
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 proper administration of these medications, and always make sure to complete the full course of antibiotics to keep the infection from returning.
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 the 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.
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 their 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.
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.