How to Treat Hot Spots on Dogs: Natural Remedies

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. It’s no wonder hot spots leave pet parents frustrated and confused. 

-Don’t worry, though! There are natural remedies for hot spots that will get rid of existing outbreaks and 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 to 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 does a hot spot 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 can grow rapidly as dogs 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. 


Is CBD good for dog hot spots?

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


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 prevent further infection. Check out this recent study, which explored these anti-microbial properties!


One of the hardest parts about dealing with hot spots is the associated discomfort and itchiness. Furthermore, this irritation is what causes them to constantly reactivate their wounds, turning acute hotspots 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. 

how to treat hot spots on dogs

How to treat hot spots on dogs with CBD

So now that we know what hot spots are and how they occur, let’s talk about how to treat hot spots on dogs.
Here we are going to talk about a simple process that will allow you to naturally deal with most instances of canine hotspots:

    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 is a good idea to shave the area to expose the underlying skin for the duration of treatment.
    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 hot spots. Choose a salve that contains other beneficial ingredients for wound healing, like honey, ginger and arnica.
    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 Prevent Hot Spots on Dogs

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

Tips to prevent Hot Spots:

  • Make sure you take care of your pet’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 preventing hot spots on dogs. In other words, the most important thing you can do is support a robust immune system through a balanced holistic approach to their health.