Natural Solutions for Hot Spots on Dogs

How to treat hot spots on dogs

When it comes to skin conditions, hot spots on dogs are some of the most common, yet challenging to deal with. They can appear seemingly out of nowhere and stick around despite all our best efforts to get rid of them. What’s more, it may seem impossible to determine the source of these recurring issues. Luckily, there are natural remedies, including CBD for hot spots on dogs, that will help soothe existing outbreaks and help keep your dog hot spot free for good!

What are Hot Spots on Dogs? 

A dog’s skin naturally hosts a wide variety of bacteria and other living microbes. When our dog’s skin is healthy, these organisms are able to coexist in a symbiotic relationship with our pets.

Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that contribute to an imbalance in the bacteria on dogs’ skin. Under the right conditions, bacteria thrive and multiply to numbers that the immune system can’t keep under control. Normally, the skin acts as a protective barrier between the outside world and our pet’s bodies. However, if there’s a breach in the barrier, these bacteria are able to get in and cause all sorts of problems, including infections. 

These skin infections are known by a few names: Pyotramatic dermatitis, superficial pyoderma, moist dermatitis or most commonly, hot spots!  

What do Dog Hot Spots Look Like?

Hot spots on dogs appear as small areas of swollen and inflamed skin. They tend to be raw and moist, hence the name moist dermatitis. Furthermore, hot spots tend to give off a nasty smell and discharge pus or fluid, matting the surrounding fur. Though the areas usually have a distinct border, hot spots on dogs can grow rapidly, as they scratch and aggravate these itchy areas. 

What Causes Hot Spots on Dogs?

There are a number of factors that can make dogs vulnerable to hot spots. Oftentimes it is a combination of environmental, dietary and genetic factors that make our pets more prone to this kind of skin infection. 

In addition, certain breeds are especially prone to canine hot spots. Hot spot regulars include: golden retrievers, german shepherds, labradors and others with thick coats. While this dermatological condition may occur year round, it is most common during the warmer months. During this time dogs are spending more time outside, playing in the water, and getting dirty in the heat and humidity. 

The most common factors that increase the risk of hot spots on dogs include:

  • Poor immune function
  • Habitual Licking or Scratching
  • Unhealthy Skin
  • Dirty Skin
  • Dense, damp fur that doesn’t dry easily
  • Unhealthy Diet 
  • Allergies
  • Fleas or other bites
  • Abrasions, cuts and scratches

When increased bacterial growth meets weak or unhealthy areas of the skin, you have the perfect environment for canine hot spots. 

CBD for Hot Spots on Dogs

Can CBD help hot spots on dogs? Yes! A dog’s skin is full of receptors that work specifically with cannabinoids like CBD, making them super effective when applied topically. What’s more, CBD has numerous therapeutic properties that make hemp salves one of the best natural remedies for hot spots on dogs. 

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One important therapeutic property of CBD, is its ability to moderate the immune system and reduce local inflammation. According to clinical research, CBD is a fantastic way to help dogs suffering from various forms of dermatitis.


CBD and other cannabinoids found in a full-spectrum hemp extract are also known for their natural anti-microbial properties. This is especially applicable, as it can help fight the growth of bacteria and help avoid further infection. Check out this recent study, which explored these anti-microbial properties!


One of the hardest parts about dealing with hot spots on dogs is the associated discomfort and itchiness. Furthermore, this irritation is what causes them to constantly reactivate their wounds, turning acute hot spots into chronic infections. Luckily, CBD has also been shown through research to be an effective analgesic

Accelerates Wound Healing

Among the other therapeutic properties mentioned above, CBD has the potential to speed the process of wound healing according to a recent study from University of Sao Paolo, in Brazil. 

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Topical CBD for Hot Spots on Dogs 

So now that we know what hot spots are and how they occur, let’s talk about how to alleviate hot spots on dogs.

    1. Clean and disinfect the area
      For this process you want to use a gentle soap, free of fragrances and irritating ingredients, followed by a disinfecting agent. Holistic veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker recommends using a solution of povidone, iodine, and water, diluted to the color of iced tea. If your dog has thick, course fur it may be a good idea to shave the affected area to expose the underlying skin, to keep it clean and dry.
    2. Dry the Area Thoroughly
      Make sure that you pat dry, don’t rub as that could cause more irritation. Leave to air dry if necessary. You want the area to be completely dry before moving on to the next step.
    3. Apply Hemp Salve to Affected Area
      Hemp salves containing naturally occurring CBD have a number of properties that make them perfect for dog hot spots. Choose a salve that contains other beneficial ingredients for wound healing, like honey, ginger and arnica, such as our SOOTHE: CBD Salve for dogs.
    4. Prevent Further Trauma to the Affected Area
      This is one of the hardest parts for pet parents. Our dogs will do anything to itch and scratch the area.They will also try to lick off whatever you put on there.Try wrapping the wound with a bandage. If the hot spot is on their torso, you can put a t-shirt on them, and if necessary be prepared to use the dreaded cone of shame. They may hate it in the moment, but it will save them a lot of anxiety and discomfort in the future.
    5. Rinse and Repeat
      Typically you will need to clean this area and repeat the process at least twice a day, up to every two hours. If after a couple hours you see the wound begin to discharge pus, it is a good idea to start over.

how to treat hot spots on dogs

How to AVOID Dog Hot Spots 

As with most health conditions, it is always better to work proactively. While CBD salves and the steps mentioned above are fantastic solutions for canine hot spots after they have formed, there is so much you can do to avoid them ever becoming an issue.

Tips to avoid future hot spots on dogs:

  • Make sure you take care of your dog’s skin and coat. 
  • Regular grooming is a great way to make sure their coat does not get matted and therefore, hold on to dirt and bacteria. 
  • If you pet gets wet, make sure they are able to dry out, thus preventing the growth of nasty bacteria that cause hot spots. 
  • Focus on reducing allergens and feeding a fresh, whole food diet. 
  • Support the immune system with an oral CBD oil

There is no one size fits all approach to helping your dog with hot spots. The most important thing you can do is support your dog’s overall health, and encourage a strong immune system through a balanced holistic approach to their health.