How to Clean a Dog Hot Spot

Medium
10 - 20 Minutes
3 Day

Introduction

Percy the Poodle had a great day at the lake last weekend, swimming, fetching sticks, running through the underbrush, barking at squirrels. But now he’s paying for it. While camping with his family, his normal grooming routine went out the window. His curly hair became matted from romping in the woods, wet from swimming in the lake, and his hair remained damp and unkept for a few days. Now he has developed a painful sore under his tangled hair--a hot spot! 

A hot spot happens when bacteria present on your dog's skin overpopulates, often due to the area becoming soiled and damp. Medical conditions and allergies also predispose dogs to developing hot spots, which can appear quite suddenly. Part of treating your dog's hot spot will involve cleaning the area, to allow effective treatment and provide relief to your dog and keep the hot spot from becoming a serious skin infection.

Dog's Perspective

Hot spots are inflamed, irritated patches of skin, that appear on your dog. They may produce an oozing discharge and a foul smell. They often occur in areas of friction, such as under fur mats or armpits, or under collars.  Dogs with thick coats are particularly likely to get hot spots, which are painful and itchy. Your dog will appreciate relief of a painful hotspot provided by cleaning and treatment, but if he does not understand what you're doing, interfering with his sore, he may not be entirely cooperative with the process.

The Clean It Up Method

Effective
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Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Scissors
Pin Brush
Dematter
Comb
Step
1
Remove hair
Shave hair from the hot spot and surrounding area. Use electric clippers or scissors. Work carefully as the area will be painful. Disinfect tools afterwards.
Step
2
Dilute cleaning solution
Clean discharge and pus away from the hot spot with diluted betadine or chlorhexidine, which will not sting. These are available at most pharmacies.
Step
3
Wipe away discharge
Dip a cotton ball or gauze in the diluted solution and gently clean the hot spot. Repeat every few hours whenever you see oozing discharge, several times per day for several days.
Step
4
Clean and brush entire body
Bathe your dog all over with a mild shampoo, like chlorhexidine shampoo, to prevent other hot spots forming. If one has developed there may be others waiting to surface. Ensure all mats and tangles are removed from your dog with brush, comb and de-matter.
Step
5
Apply medication
Apply a steroidal antibiotic cream to the hot spot and cleaned area and prevent your dog from licking it off by using an Elizabethan collar.
Recommend grooming method?

The Alternative Remedies Method

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Step
1
Tea bag compresses
Steep black or green tea bags in boiling water for 5 minutes then allow to cool. Place tea bags over the hot spot and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Repeat 3 to 4 times per day.
Step
2
Epsom salts
Dissolve ½ cup of Epsom salts in 1 gallon of water. Apply solution with a soft cloth or gauze to the hot spot to relieve itching and fight bacteria.
Step
3
Apple cider vinegar
Clean the hot spot and area with a diluted apple cider vinegar solution every few hours, to remove discharge. This may sting and should be used carefully. If your dog indicates that the solution is causing pain use a different milder cleaning solution.
Step
4
Topical treatments
Apply topical colloidal silver spray, raw aloe with resin removed, or manuka honey to the hot spot.
Step
5
Apply cornstarch
Spread cornstarch over the hotspot area to relieve itching and keep skin dry.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • If left untreated, or treated unsuccessfully, hot spots can result in more widespread and systemic infections. Monitor carefully, and if the hot spot does not heal or appears to spread, seek veterinary attention; prescription medication may be required.
  • You may need to use an e-collar to prevent your dog licking off topical treatments or interfering with the wound.
  • Be very careful when removing hair and cleaning the area as it can be painful.  If cleaning solutions cause discomfort, find a solution that is less irritating to your dog.

Conclusion

Hot spots are painful and smelly and need to be cleaned and treated as soon as possible, as they can lead to more serious infections for your dog. If your dog develops a painful hot spot, try to determine the cause and address it. Soiled, damp skin and matted fur are some of the most common causes, but several medical conditions can also contribute. Remove hair from the area and clean away discharge from the hot spot. Topical antibacterial and anti-inflammatory medications or natural products can relieve and resolve the hot spot, but monitor carefully, in case veterinary assistance is required to treat your dog's hot spot.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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