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Dog Hot Spots

by Linda McGrogan
(Croydon, Pa)

My golden is 10 months old and had 2 scabs on her head in May. We took her to the vet who diagnosed them as hot spots and prescribed meds and an oinment.


He shaved her head around the hot spots, showed us how much ointment to use and said that if in two weeks the hot spots are still there, come back.

The hot spots cleared up, but recently after she went swimming in the river I noticed bumps on her neck and throat area which look like the scabby sores she had before.

What could I try at home before going back to the vet? Or should we take her back immediately?

Comments for Dog Hot Spots

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Jun 19, 2010
My Online Vet Response for Dog with Hot Spots
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman


Hi Linda,
This does not sound like an emergency, and there are a number of home care treatments that you can do to help her.

Hot spots develop when there is an initial irritation on the skin. Either from a slight abrasion that draws bacteria, an area of matted hair, a sticker that gets caught in the hair... anything that will trigger a dog to start scratching.

If the skin is not very healthy or is too dry or slow to heal, then the itching continues. Due to the ongoing self-trauma, a large wound can be created that can be very serious.

Therefore, after swimming in a river or lake filled with organic matter, fish, algae, human waste products, etc. you MUST give her a bath. Lather with a baby shampoo or oatmeal shampoo, and rinse well. Just to hose her off afterward is not enough.

It would be ideal to be able to clip the hair away from the scabbed areas. If you do not have any dog hair clippers, then just part the hair and using cotton or gauze pads, apply hydrogen peroxide to all of the scabs, at least two times a day for about 5 days. After 5 days, then give her another bath.

Now you need to address her 'internal' support, boost her immune system, and remove her susceptibility to developing these hot spots in the first place. See our page on dog skin conditions to learn about improving her diet. Just feeding her a DRY DOG food is not healthy! Her skin needs moisture! Canned and/or a combination of raw and canned is the best.

There are numerous dog dietary supplements that are also beneficial, including Omega 3 fish oils and Mega C by Orthomolecular Specialities.

(advice continued below)

Jun 19, 2010
My Online Vet Response (continued)
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

(advice continued from above)

The effects of dog vaccinations and dog allergies can also make her susceptible to developing hot spots. In addition, surgery from being spayed can be suppressive to her immune system.

Hope this is helpful. If the problem is not improving, I would suggest finding a holistic veterinarian, this way you are not just putting a lotion on her skin, you are improving her whole body and making her much healthier.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

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DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

- Dog Skin Conditions,
- Dog Itchy Skin,
- Dog Skin Rash,
- Dog Skin Allergies,
- Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Skin Rashes, Marks, Spots, Lesions & Patches (including itchy skin and mange) Section

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