Sometimes called summer sores, hot spots are red, inflamed, and pus-filled wounds. Hot spots on dogs are very common and easy to treat; you can manage this condition by working with your veterinarian to care for your faithful pup’s skin.
Here’s what you need to know about hot spots and your dog.
A hot spot is a painful and itchy skin infection that can appear spontaneously and spread quickly.¹ Dogs may get hot spots if they live in humid climates or during the summer months.
Also known as acute moist dermatitis, hot spots can start as a small irritation on a dog’s skin. Then the bacteria living on the skin may spread to create what is called a hot spot.
The good news is that hot spots are easy to get under control. You should work with your veterinarian closely for treatment options, but you can typically expect hot spots to clear up in roughly 3 – 7 days after treatment.¹,²
Once you get your vet on the phone, describe what you’re seeing or send them pictures. They may ask you to come in for an exam, but it’s very likely they’ll prescribe something over the phone.
Your vet’s goal is to figure out what’s causing your pet to scratch.¹,² They’ll examine your dog for fleas and ticks or other skin issues. Then, you'll get prescriptions to combat the infection. This may include things like flea medication, steroids, or antibiotics.
You (or your vet) might need to trim the fur around the infected area with dog-safe scissors to expose it to air so it can dry. Take your time while doing this to avoid nicking the open wound or yourself.
Use vet-approved antiseptic sprays — like chlorhexidine — to clean the area thoroughly to remove any pus, hair, or debris.¹,²
If you don’t have antiseptic sprays on hand, diluted hydrogen peroxide could work. As always, it’s recommended to check with your vet before administering potential remedies at home.
You’ll likely be prescribed a topical antibiotic or steroid by your vet to apply to your dog after you’ve cleaned the infected area. It’s recommended to avoid using products with alcohol because it can burn the exposed tissue.¹,²
Lastly, the key to healing is preventing your dog from licking, chewing, or scratching the area. A cone or Elizabethan collar might be needed.¹,² If you don’t have a cone, ask your vet for one or buy one that fits your dog's body size.
You could also try a t-shirt, sock, or doggie onesie to cover the wound. If you choose to do this, make sure the wound is able to breathe and that the fabric stays dry. Whatever you can do to protect the wound, the better.