natural home remedies for your dogs hotspots

Hotspots HURT!

They’re not only painful, but they’re stressful for your dog and they’re stressful for you too.

NOTE: Don’t miss the Homeopathic Remedies section at the end of this post. There’s a handy PDF Guide that will show you what remedies to have on hand and how to use them to stop hotspots in their tracks.

Preventing hotspots should be high up in your priorities when it comes to your dog’s care.

And treating them without antibiotics should also be a high priority … and the good news is you can with the following list.

Here are the nine most important natural home remedies that can help ease the pain, itch and stress that comes with your dog’s hotspot.

But first, it’s important to understand what hotspots are and how they’re caused.

What Are Hotspots?

Hotspots are essentially an immune-mediated response of the skin.

They appear as red, moist, irritated, sometimes oozy skin lesions that can appear anywhere on your dog.

Hot spots also tend to appear suddenly, with no warning.  If they’re untreated, they can also spread very fast.  So if you see one on your dog, it’s important to get treating it right away.

Also known as acute moist dermatitis, hotspots can be caused by an allergic reaction, a bug bite, poor grooming or underlying disease.

They can even be caused by boredom or stress. Thick or long haired breeds are most often affected.

Whatever the cause, there are always safe and effective natural treatments. But before choosing a solution, you’ll need to understand the cause of your dog’s hotspots.

What Causes Hotspots?

This is a question of watching your dog closely and thinking about what has happened recently in his life that might have caused the hotspot.

What Could The Cause Be?

  • Has he been somewhere where he might have been bitten by an insect?
  • Is his coat matted in the area of the hot spot so the skin underneath can’t breathe?
  • Has he eaten anything unusual that might have caused an allergic reaction?
  • Or at some times of year, perhaps he’s been exposed to environmental allergies like grasses, pollens or molds – or even scummy pond water – that might have caused a reaction?
  • Does he have a sore spot such as an achy hip or knee that he’s been licking or chewing?
  • Does he have fleas? Flea allergy dermatitis can also cause hot spots.

Or maybe there’s an emotional cause:

  • Is he getting enough exercise and mental stimulation or is he bored?
  • Does he get upset being home alone or is there some other change in his home situation that could have caused stress?

Once you know what’s causing the hotspots, you can choose from some of the options below.

But first, you need to know you can get through this without antibiotics or conventional drugs. And you really need to try hard to do this.

Why Not Use Conventional Treatments?

Using conventional medications such as antibiotics is not a good idea and can even be harmful over the long term.

Skin conditions (such as hotspots) are never “just skin conditions.” They always have an underlying cause and the hotspot is nothing but a symptom of that underlying disorder.

That’s why it’s important to address the cause of the hotspot … otherwise, it will just keep coming back.

Conventional medicines (even the topical sprays your vet might want you to use) almost always work by suppressing the symptoms (in this case, the hotspot).

That’s why so many conventional medicines are called anti … there are antifungals, anti-inflammatories and in this case, antibiotics.

All work to treat the signs of the disease but do nothing to treat the dog to make sure he doesn’t get sick again.

Here’s the ironic part … the antibiotic spray you might use on that hotspot will actually make your dog more likely to get more skin infections and hot spots.

In humans, topical antibiotics have “emerged as the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections in the community” according to Dr Henry Blumberg, a professor of infectious disease at Emory University.

So let’s take a look at how we can safely and effectively avoid those conventional treatments.

How To Treat Hotspots Naturally

Here is a list of proven natural remedies you can use to replace those conventional drugs … and these natural remedies are actually more effective as they won’t stress your dog’s immune system, making it less likely for those hotspots to come back.

Let’s start with the topical choices …

Calendula

Calendula can be used to treat hotspots caused by various types of skin irritations.  Calendula (marigold) comes in many forms: cream, salve, oil and lotion, teas and tinctures.

For hotspots, you’ll want to avoid tinctures made with alcohol as they can sting or irritate the area.

Calendula is a well-known herb that can reduce itching and inflammation and promote quick healing of skin tissue.

And the best part is, Calendula is extremely effective for calming the itch.

You can buy calendula products at any health food store.

Apply calendula liberally on the affected area and repeat as often as needed or try this recipe.

Calendula

Calendula is safe for your dog to ingest if he licks it too.

Click here for another quick Calendula lotion recipe!  

Hypericum

Hypericum is also a great option for treating hotspots.

Also known as St John’s Wort, this herb is useful when combined with calendula to reduce pain and inflammation, and to promote healing.

Hypericum and calendula tincture diluted in water (HyperCal) is an effective and relieving antibacterial wash for hotspots.

You can buy hypericum and calendula tinctures on Amazon or at your local health food store. Then put 12 to 15 drops of each in 1 cup of warm water.

Use the water as often as necessary to relieve the itching and keep the hotspot clean. Don’t forget to dry the area with a clean cloth when you’re done.

You can also buy HyperCal already made – just ask for it at your health food store and they’ll know what it is.

Mild Himalayan Salt Bath

This is another effective antibacterial skin solution and a great addition to your HyperCal wash.

Add about 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of water.

You can buy Himalayan salt at health food stores and even gourmet grocery stores. It’s easy to recognize because it’s pink!

These are all great topical choices that can be used individually or combined.

If you have a long haired dog, it may make topical treatment easier (and help healing by allowing air to get to the skin) if you clip or trim the hair around the area of the hotspot.

Next, let’s look at natural remedies for internal use … there are several supplements that can help and there’s also a handy PDF coming up showing useful homeopathic remedies.

Antioxidants

Recurring hotspots can often be caused by underlying allergies.

[NOTE: Help heal your dog’s allergies starting at the core … download DNM’s free Leaky Gut Workbook and help your dog feel her best again]

One way to relieve allergies naturally is to feed a diet rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants come in many forms and from the following foods: berries, green leafy vegetables, apples, chlorella, spirulina, moringa leaf, olive leaf, kelp, raw meat and  organic organ meats (particularly liver).

That being said, a raw meat based diet is the ultimate in providing a high antioxidant diet.

Learn more about raw feeding, Click Here

If your dog requires an extra boost, the use of high doses of vitamin C can help animals with suppressed immune function.

Vitamin C should preferably be a whole foods sourced supplement (Garden of Life is one brand that has good products that are available at many health food stores and online).

Vitamin C can be used to bowel tolerance in difficult cases of allergic inflammation.

This means you’ll start with a low dose given in the food (about a quarter to one teaspoon depending on the size of your dog) and increase the amount until your dog has loose stools.

Once you see this, cut back to the last dose where the stools were formed and healthy. Each dog is different in its requirements for vitamin C.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids (EFAs), particularly the Omega-3s, are important for skin health and can even be used therapeutically to alleviate inflammatory skin disease.

Oils high in Omega-3s include fish oils, krill oil and flaxseed oil.

Be absolutely SURE that your EFAs are fresh, cold-pressed, refrigerated and not rancid.

EFA oils go rancid very easily and can cause skin and digestive dysfunction if fed over the long term. (Coconut oil is very stable and can be stored for longer periods at room temperature.)

Buy your EFA oils often and in small amounts. EFAs should be fed therapeutically up to bowel tolerance (as suggested above) and at around 250 mg per 15 pounds of bodyweight for maintenance.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has antifungal properties and can be useful both topically and internally … and it contains medium chain triglicerides that complement the Omega-3 oils.

If your dog has a tendency towards yeast infections, adding coconut oil can be helpful.

Alternating different types of oils is a good way to include coconut oil in your dog’s diet, feeding coconut oil one day and Omega-3 oils the next.

You can give your dog 1 teaspoon (5ml) of coconut oil per 10 pounds of bodyweight, or 1 tablespoon per 30 pounds (13.6 kg) of body weight.

But ease into it gradually, starting with about a quarter of this amount, then build up slowly.

DMG (dimethylglycine)

DMG is an amino acid and natural immune modulator that supports all types of immune dysfunction including overactivity and underactivity of the immune system.

It’s particularly good at reducing histamine reactions which are at the root of the formation of hotspots.

This simple supplement can make a huge difference. It’s best assimilated in liquid form and best given in food.

For therapeutic benefits give 3 drops twice daily per 20 pounds of bodyweight. For maintenance give 3 drops once daily per 20 pounds of bodyweight.

Probiotics

Probiotic supplements are another important building block of healthy digestive and skin function.

Probiotics are also known as “good bacteria” …

… they help balance your dog’s gut flora and control the “bad bacteria” that can affect not only your dog’s digestive system, but his overall health as well.

There’s evidence showing that that a healthy gut can boost the  immune system … so giving probiotics can really help reduce the likelihood of your dog getting hotspots and other skin disorders.

If you suspect your dog has a digestive dysfunction, or he’s recently been on antibiotics or other medications, he needs a probiotic supplement.

Medications like antibiotics don’t distinguish between good and bad bacteria, so if your dog’s been taking an antibiotic, the good bacteria in his gut will be damaged.

Giving him probiotic supplements can help restore a healthy gut.

It’s also a good idea to give probiotics if your dog has suffered from food poisoning or any prolonged high stress situation,

There are several food sources of probiotics, such as kefir or fermented vegetables, which you can add to your dog’s diet.

But if your dog’s got hotspots, it’s a good idea to give him a probiotic supplement as well for a few weeks.

Choose a high quality, multi-strain, refrigerated brand.

Most probiotics come in capsule form.

Many probiotics are dairy based; if your dog doesn’t do well with dairy, it’s best to look for a non dairy probiotic (Garden of Life’s Primal Defense is a good one).

If you’re using a human brand, give a quarter of the recommended human dosage per 25 lbs of bodyweight.

This dosage can be doubled for the first one to two months to restore gut flora after antibiotics or other digestive system setbacks.

For more info on probiotics AND prebiotics, check out this article.

Homeopathic Remedies

No matter what the cause, there’s always a homeopathic solution!

Remedies commonly used for hotspots include: Apis, Belladonna, Calendula, Aconite, Pulsatilla, Graphites, Mercurius, Rhus tox, Arsenicum, and even Bach Rescue Remedy. We’ll talk about this in a moment.

BONUS DOWNLOAD

 Grab this PDF Guide and start using Homeopathic Remedies to treat your dog’s hotspots

Where To Find Homeopathic Remedies

You can buy homeopathic remedies at apothecaries and most health food stores, and at many online suppliers like Amazon  (just “Google” the name of the remedy you’re looking for).

Homeopathic remedies also come in different “potencies” and you’ll also need to know which one to ask for when you shop.

Hotspots are acute and fast acting, which means they respond well to dosing with a 30C or 200C potency.

Ask for either of these potencies when you buy or order your remedies. One exception to this advice on potency is that if your dog is extremely distressed or uncomfortable, you can use a 1M potency.

How To Use Homeopathic Remedies

Most homeopathic remedies come in little pellets or granules. Many dogs don’t mind taking them, as they’re sweet-tasting.

If that’s the case, you can just twist the container until two or three pellets (or 10 to 15 granules) drop into the cap, then tip them into your dog’s cheek (preferably without touching the remedy with your hands).

As long as the pellets or granules come into contact with the gums or other mucous membranes, your dog has been dosed.

But if your dog spits the pellets out, you might need to resort to wet dosing.  Here are some additional instructions on how to do that.

It’s also best to give the remedies away from food if you can.

How Often To Give Homeopathic Remedies

Hotspots can come on very suddenly and they usually spread fast, so you need to get the remedy into your dog quickly when you notice a hotspot.

Once you’ve started dosing your dog, you’ll need to keep an eye on the hotspot for changes.

The condition of the hotspot – whether improving or worsening – will guide you as to when you need to give your dog another dose of the remedy.

So keep watching it!

The general rule is … if the hotspot is getting better, stop dosing. Only redose when you see the hotspot get worse or the improvement stops.

Step By Step Dosing Guidelines

  • After reading the remedy descriptions below, pick the one that’s the best fit for your dog’s symptoms.
  • Once you’ve made your choice, using either a 30C or 200C potency, start out by giving your dog a dose every 30 minutes, for up to four doses … or until you see some improvement.  Or, if your dog is extremely uncomfortable or distressed as mentioned above, and you’ve chosen a 1M potency, give the remedy once per hour up to three times. In either case, if you see the hotspot start to improve after the first dose or two, there’s no need to keep dosing.
  • Remedies work quickly with acute, fast-moving issues, so (especially if the hotspot appeared very suddenly) you should see a change in the hot spot quite quickly. This could be as early as an hour after your first dose.
  • Keep an eye on the hotspot.
  • Whenever you see improvement in the hotspot, stop dosing … and keep watching the hotspot.
  • THEN … anytime you see the hotspot appear to worsen, or stop improving, give your dog another single dose.
  • You may find you need to redose occasionally over the next few days as the hotspot heals. Let the hotspot be your guide as you consider whether to redose or not. If the hotspot gets worse or the improvement stops, redose. If it’s still improving, don’t redose.

When To Switch Remedies

If you don’t see any changes after three or four doses, then it’s time to try a different remedy.

Pick the next one that matches your dog’s symptoms. When you switch to a new remedy, follow the above steps again.

(Alternatives for your dog’s hot spot?  Click here)

Which Remedy Should Your Dog Get?  

Homeopathic veterinarians prescribe remedies based on the physical and mental state of the dog and the remedy will vary according to your dog’s overall symptoms.

Hotspots appear quickly and have very specific symptoms, so this makes choosing the right remedy fairly easy. Here are the major guidelines to help you choose the right remedy:

Apis (usually labeled Apis mellifica): Apis is often the most useful remedy to use for the early stages of hotspots due to their angry, itchy and violent onset (Apis comes from a honey bee so think of a bee sting).*

BelladonnaHotspots that require Belladonna will appear and grow almost instantly and the skin will be bright red, hot and relatively dry. The dog will appear restless and irritated and will move away from heat.*

*Note when comparing Apis to Belladonna:  the Apis patient is often thirstless, whereas the Belladonna patient will usually seek water.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis): Often, homeopathic Calendula (not the herbal calendula recommended in the topical treatment suggestions above) is useful for the healing stages of a hotspot.

Aconite (Aconitum napellus) can be used for animals displaying a lot of anxiety and restlessness during the development of hotspots.

Graphites: Graphites is an excellent skin remedy and will be necessary if there is a sticky discharge that appears like honey. These dogs can tend toward excess weight and the itch and discharge will be worse with warmth. The surrounding skin and coat may feel greasy and the hotspot will have a cracked appearance.

Mercurius: These hot spots will also have a yellow or even greenish discharge with a yellow scab. There may also be hair loss and bleeding around the lesion. These dogs will also want to move away from heat.

Rhus tox (Rhus toxicodendron): Like a rash from poison ivy, the hotspot that requires Rhus tox will be red and very itchy with a pimpled rash-like appearance. There will be swelling and the hotspot will be hardened. These dogs prefer warmth and will feel better when out moving and walking.

For Chronic Hot Spots

If your dog suffers from chronic, recurring hotspots, especially if these seem to be due to mental or emotional causes, it’s best to consult your homeopathic vet, who may recommend other remedies.

Some commonly used ones are PulsatillaGraphites and Arsenicum album. 

Countless other homeopathic skin remedies may be used for more chronic cases where hotspots recur and the mental or emotional picture is appropriate.

Bach Rescue Remedy can be useful on a daily basis in cases where there is prolonged household or environmental stress or where life or family changes are affecting your pet.

You can put a few drops in your dog’s water bowl, even if there are other dogs in your household (it won’t affect them if they don’t need it).

Other Options To Consider

If your dog gets recurring hotspots and you can’t figure out why, there are a couple more options you might ask your holistic vet about.

Glandular Supplementation

If the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, or a combination of all three, are dealing with a high toxin load, improper diet or an autoimmune disease, this could be the reason for your dog’s skin problems.

Ask your holistic vet if a glandular supplement might help your dog.

Glandular supplements are usually only available through medical professionals.

Dosage will vary based on the product and the weight of your pet; follow your holistic vet’s advice.

Digestive Enzymes

Skin inflammation and allergies can have underlying causes including digestive dysfunction.

So hotspots and other skin-related illnesses can be greatly improved by improving your dog’s digestive function.

Fresh, whole, raw foods can provide your dog with the natural digestive enzymes he needs.

But sometimes (especially if your dog has been eating processed, cooked foods) it might be necessary to add a digestive enzyme supplement.

If enzyme deficiency is a concern, your dog’s skin could suffer.

Ask your holistic vet if digestive enzyme supplements might help your dog. Dosage will vary based on the product and your dog’s weight.

General Care

In addition to these hotspot solutions, make sure your dog has lots of mental and physical stimulation based on his breed, age and health; groom your dog often and eliminate the possibility of fleas; provide fresh, spring water (with no fluoride or chlorine).

Again, remember that natural remedies like the ones recommended here are much safer and more effective for your dog than conventional medicines.

These natural solutions can help solve the issue that’s causing your dog’s hotspots, whereas most conventional “anti” medicines (such as antibiotics) just suppress the hotspot temporarily, and you’ll see it return later.

If you feel you need help, find a homeopathic vet in your area.

If you don’t have access to a homeopathic vet, you can connect with the vets in the DNM Academy and learn how to treat common issues at home with their guidelines and care.

With just a little help, you’ll be able to treat hotspots and other common issues at home.