What Do You Do When Your Dog Gets A Hot Spot?

I got a call the other day from my girlfriend who seemed to be in a panic…

Me: What’s wrong?
Her: Linus has a big chunk of fur missing from his back and it’s slimy and bloody.
Her: I think Adelle took a bite out of her…
Me: Actually, I think it might be a hot spot…

Although I didn’t know too much about hot spots I’ve seen them on some of the other Guide Dog puppies in our group. Pups usually chew and chew on one spot until there’s no fur, it gets irritated red and bloody, and usually looks kinda slimy.  The good news was besides the hot spot Linus was acting totally normal playing with Adelle and running around the yard, jumping on the couch, etc.  If he had been lethargic or acting out of the ordinary I would have rushed him to the emergency vet.

I never noticed Linus excessive licking or chewing on his butt/back area so this is something that came up very suddenly.  Although I think it would have healed up on it’s own I wanted to make sure it wasn’t:

  1. Getting infected
  2. Anything more than an irritation
  3. What caused it
  4. Best way to treat it

Getting Rid Of Hot Spots On Dogs

That’s my buddy Linus with a hot spot on his butt.  This is actually about 4 days after I started applying his medication and giving antibiotics.  The scabs are almost healed.  Before we visited the vet you couldn’t really see the bald area because the longer top coat was matting against the wound.

Hot Spot on Dogs
Linus Hot Spot on Butt

By the way, I just saw my friends Siberian Husky who had a hot spot 6 months ago and his fur still hasn’t fully grown back.  It actually looks like it’s going to take my friends dog at least a year before his coat returns to normal.

Self diagnosis is not always the best form of treatment.  Although we have this wonderful resource called the internet the best thing to do is to consult a professional veterinarian if there’s anything wrong with your dog.  Based on my experience seeing other dogs I was fairly sure this was nothing more than a hot spot I still really didn’t know anything about hot spots and this was a perfect time to learn a little bit about what caused these nasty irritations.  So we took a trip to the Vet and $120 dollars later here’s what I found out.

Our vet told us that a hot spot was more of a generic term that referred to an area that got irritated by some type of allergy.  In Linus’ case he thinks based on the location (on his butt/back area) of the hot spot it was more than likely caused by a flea bite.

At the time Linus’ fur was matted down against the scab so our vet recommended cleaning up so here’s how we treated the hot spot:

  1. First the area was cleaned with regular hand soap and water.
  2. Then the vet shaved back the fur so it wouldn’t get stuck in the wound.  This would allow the area to better heal without infection.
  3. He added an ointment called Otomax to help the healing process.
  4. Linus was put on Antibiotics and Benadryl.

Since we’ve been home Linus has been on the antibiotics and benadryl and will be taking those drugs for the next 2 weeks.  We were also told to clean the area with warm water and hand soap and also treat with Otomax daily for the next 2 weeks.

It’s funny we used Otomax on Stetson’s ears so I was wondering what it actually was and why it was also applicable for hot spots.  Here’s a little information on Otomax:

What is Otomax?

  • Otomax is an ointment used to treat ear infections. It is a combination steroid, antibacterial, and antifungal ear medication labeled for use in dogs.

Who is it for?

  • Otomax is labeled for use in dogs, but veterinarians may prescribe it for other animals including cats and many other species of animals.

What are the benefits?

  • Combination medication for the treatment of acute and chronic otitis (ear infection)
  • Convenient applicator makes administration easy
  • Effective against inflammation, bacterial, and yeast infections of the ear

I guess it works for infections on the skin as well.  Whatever it is it works because it’s been just under a week and everything is almost all healed up except for the bald spot on Linus’ butt!  We’ll keep treating and hope for the best.  The vet said his fur will eventually grow back.  I hope so because that bald spot is blinding it’s so bright or maybe it’s just the contrast with the dark fur.  Who would have thought that black furred dogs have such white skin.

One last thing we started up was getting Linus and Stetson back on their flea meds.  We’ve been using Advantage II, but we’re not huge fans of the topical meds so we’re going to do a little research and see what might be a better alternative.

How about you guys?  Have any of you experienced hot spots on your dogs?

We’ll probably have a few posts about flea meds, but for starters let us know what flea medications you use and why?


  1. Allison says

    Hot spots can look really scary for someone that isn’t familiar with them (and maybe some that are). Glad to hear that Linus is okay!!

    • says

      Hi Jan,

      That’s actually after a few days of healing. When I first noticed the hot spot his fur was matted agains the wound. After I cleaned it up it looked raw kind of like a strawberry when you skin yourself. The picture in the post was after it scabbed and the area was shaved.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Monica says

    Sachi takes Trifexis monthly. Her vet said this should take care of heartworms, fleas and intestinal worms and is pretty safe. Unless I see ticks, I don’t need to give her Frontline. Trifexis is also new to me.

    • says

      Thanks for letting us know! We still have extra Heartguard and Advantage II. Once we use it up I’m going to start doing more research on what will work best for the boys and little girl. We’ll ask our vet about Trifexis.

  3. Tina Lockwood says

    Dear PIT.com,

    Stryker has a hot spot in the middle of his back. We went to the mountains on vacation, and he came back with a hot spot. He now has a giant shaved patch, otomax, hydroxizine, and antibiotics. He is healing nicely, like Linus!

    At GDA, they have switched topical flea treatment to Activyl, as they have found that Frontline and Advantage aren’t working as well as they used to.

    • says

      Hi Tina! We used to use Frontline with Linus, Stetson, and Dublin, but one day we started getting fleas. Apparently Frontline stopped working for us so we switched over to Advantage II which took care of the fleas. I’ll have to check out Activyl. Thanks!

  4. says

    Hi Colby my golden retriever Corona had experienced hot spot several times. I always thought that it was because of the humidity of weather (we lived in Miami, FL for 5 years and now moved to Tiawan, the weather in both places are hot and humid most of the time)… After paying so much on dealing with this hot spot issue, I finally got an idea of what it is from your blog instead of my vet -__-

    My dogs use Advantage as well. However, I’ve heard some tragedies on dogs using flea med and result in death… Supposedly the med is too strong or was applied wrongly. I’m very confused on should I keep using those flea meds or not. Also, these couple days, I noticed a few ticks on Corona!! I was freaking out since I haven’t seen those for a long long time. I have not stop using Advantage yet, why do ticks still get on my dog? Please give me some advice on how to deal with ticks. Thank you!!

    • says

      Hi Cynthia,

      The best thing to do is consult your local vet they will have the best methods for treating fleas and ticks in your area. We use Advantage II on our dogs, but I don’t believe it prevents Ticks. We used to use Frontline which I believe covered fleas and ticks. As I mentioned the best thing to do is to check with your local vet.

      Take care,

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