Hot spots HURT!
They’re not only painful, but they’re stressful for your dog and they’re stressful for you too. Preventing hot spots 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. The good news is you can with the following list.
Here are the best natural home remedies that can help ease the pain, itch and stress that comes with your dog’s hot spot.
But first, it’s important to understand … what are hot spots on dogs, and what causes them?
What Are Hot Spots?
Hot spots are an immune-mediated response of the skin. They appear as red, moist, irritated, sometimes oozy skin lesions. And they 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.
Hot spots on dogs are also known as acute moist dermatitis. They can stem from 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 hot spots.
Where Do Dogs Get Hot Spots?
The most common places dogs get hot spots are:
What Causes Hot Spots?
You’ll need to watch your dog closely to figure this out. What has happened recently in his life that might have caused the hot spot?
What could the cause be?
Or maybe there’s an emotional cause:
And there’s one other thing that’s good to know. It’s especially important if your dog gets hot spots repeatedly.
Acute or Chronic Hot Spots
Many hot spots are acute – meaning they come and go quickly. Conventional vets often diagnose them as flea bites or allergic reactions.
But sometimes hot spots can be chronic. If your dog gets them often, it may be a sign of deeper underlying disease.
Canine herbalist Rita Hogan suggests some possible underlying causes:
If your dog gets hots spots along his spine, look for tension in the area under or around the hot spot. That may give you some clues.
Once you know what’s triggering the hot spots, you can choose from some of the options below.
But first, there’s one important thing to know. You can get through this without antibiotics or conventional drugs. And you need to try hard to do this.
Why Not Use Conventional Treatments?
Using conventional medications such as antibiotics is not a good idea. It can even be harmful over the long term.
Skin conditions (such as hot spots) are never “just skin conditions.” They always have an underlying cause. The hot spot is nothing but a symptom of that underlying disorder.
That’s why it’s important to address the cause of the hot spot … otherwise, it will just keep coming back.
Conventional medicines almost always work by suppressing symptoms. In this case, the hot spot is the symptom. This is even true of any topical sprays your vet might recommend.
That’s why so many conventional medicines start with “anti.” There are anti-fungals, 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.
So let’s take a look at how you can safely and effectively avoid those conventional treatments … and actually treat the hot spot.
How To Treat Hot Spots Naturally
If your dog develops a hot spot, start by trimming the hair around the area and cleaning any pus or dead skin. Just remember that this spot can be quite painful so be gentle!
I’m sharing some proven natural remedies you can use to replace those conventional drugs. These natural remedies are actually more effective. They won’t stress your dog’s immune system, so it’s less likely those hot spots will come back.
Topical Hot Spot Treatments
Calendula can be used to treat hot spots caused by various types of skin irritations. It comes in many forms: cream, salve, oil and lotion, teas and tinctures.
This well-known herb can reduce itching and inflammation. It promotes quick healing of skin tissue. And the best part is, it’s is extremely effective for calming the itch.
You can buy calendula products at any health food store. It’s safe for your dog even if he licks it. For hot spots, you’ll want to avoid tinctures made with alcohol as they can sting or irritate the area.
Apply calendula liberally on the affected area and repeat as often as needed. You can also try this recipe.
Calendula Lotion For Hot Spots
Mix together the salt and the water. Add the calendula tincture.
Note: Calendula is good for open wounds too. Try This Calendula Recipe.
Use a clean cotton ball to sponge the lotion onto the hot spot 2-4 times a day.
Also known as St John’s Wort, hypericum is another great option for treating hot spots.
It’s even better if you combine it with calendula. Together these herb reduce pain and inflammation, and promote healing.
Hypericum and calendula tincture diluted in water is called HyperCal. It’s 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 in some places. Just ask for it at your health food store and they’ll know what it is.
Note: in the US you can only buy HyperCal as a cream, so it’s best to buy separate tinctures and mix them yourself.
3. Herbal Hot Spot Rinse
This mild herbal rinse from herbalist Rita Hogan will provide some external relief. It’ll make your dog more comfortable until the internal remedies kick in.
Herbal Hot Spot Rinse
Optional: replace 4 oz water with 4 oz witch hazel or rose water for extra drying or cooling support.
Mix the flower essence, salt and water.
Add Self-Heal and echinacea.
Trim around the hot spot. Then flush or mist the area 3 or 4 times in 24 hours.
4. Black Tea
Hot spots on dogs tend to be pretty moist, so use black tea to dry up a hot spot.
The tannins in black tea can help stop the infection and help it heal.
Steep a black tea bag in 8 ounces of water. Let it cool. Then you can use either the tea bag or a cotton ball to apply
No matter what the cause, there’s always a homeopathic solution!
Remedies commonly used for hot spots include: Apis, Belladonna, Calendula, Aconite, Pulsatilla, Graphites, Mercurius, Rhus tox, Arsenicum, and even Bach Rescue Remedy. We’ll talk about them in a moment.
You can buy homeopathic remedies at apothecaries and most health food stores. You’ll also find them at many online suppliers. Amazon and smallflower.com are good places to start.
Homeopathic remedies also come in different potencies … so you’ll also need to know which one to ask for when you shop.
Hot spots 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.
There’s one exception to this advice. If your dog is extremely distressed or uncomfortable, you can use a 1M potency.
Which Remedy Should Your Dog Get?
Homeopaths prescribe remedies based on the physical and mental state of the dog. The remedy will vary according to your dog’s overall symptoms.
Hot spots appear quickly and have very specific symptoms. So choosing the right remedy is fairly easy. Here are the major guidelines to help you choose the right remedy:
- Apis (Apis mellifica): Apis is often the most useful remedy to use for the early stages of hot spots. The remedy fits the angry, itchy and violent onset. (Apis comes from a honey bee so think of a bee sting.) The Apis patient is often thirstless.
- Belladonna: Hot spots that require Belladonna will appear and grow almost instantly. The skin will be bright red, hot and relatively dry. The dog will appear restless and irritated. He will move away from heat. The Belladonna patient will usually seek water.
- Calendula (Calendula officinalis): Often, homeopathic Calendula (not the herbal calendula used in the topical treatment) is useful for the healing stages of a hot spot.
- Aconite (Aconitum napellus) can be used for animals displaying a lot of anxiety and restlessness during the development of hot spots.
- Graphites: Graphites is an excellent skin remedy. It will be necessary if there is a sticky discharge that appears like honey. These dogs can tend toward excess weight. The itch and discharge will be worse with warmth. The surrounding skin and coat may feel greasy and the hot spot 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): The hot spot that requires Rhus tox will be red and very itchy with a pimpled rash-like appearance. (Think of a rash from poison ivy). There will be swelling and the hot spot will be hardened. These dogs prefer warmth and will feel better when out moving and walking.
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 2 or 3 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, you’ve dosed your dog. But if your dog spits the pellets out, you might need to use wet dosing.
Wet dosing is also useful when you want to repeat a dose several times. You can use the same liquid for each dose. Just give it a good stir before dosing.
Wet Dosing Directions
A single dose is a teaspoon or a dropper of liquid placed on the gums.
It’s also best to give the remedies away from food if you can – by at least 20 minutes.
How Often To Give Homeopathic Remedies
Hot spots 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 hot spot.
Pick the remedy that’s the best match for your dog’s hot spot symptoms. Then follow the guidelines below.
Once you’ve started dosing your dog, you’ll need to keep an eye on the hot spot for changes. The condition of the hot spot … whether improving or worsening … will tell you when you need to give another dose. So keep watching it!
The general rule is … if the hot spot is getting better, stop dosing. Only redose when you see the hot spot get worse or the improvement stops.
If the hot spot doesn’t change after a few doses, it’s time to try a different remedy.
Step By Step Dosing Guidelines
For Chronic Hot Spots
If your dog suffers from chronic, recurring hot spots, it’s best to consult your homeopathic vet, who may recommend other remedies. This is especially true if they seem to be due to mental or emotional causes,
Some commonly used ones are Pulsatilla, Graphites and Arsenicum album.
Countless other homeopathic remedies may work for more chronic cases where hot spots recur and the mental or emotional picture is appropriate.
Bach Rescue Remedy can be useful to add daily. It helps 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. Do this even if there are other dogs in your household. It won’t affect them if they don’t need it.
Chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture or acupressure can also help with chronic hot spots.
In addition to these hot spot solutions, make sure your dog has lots of mental and physical stimulation based on his breed, age and health.
Groom your dog often and make sure there are no fleas. Provide fresh, spring water (with no fluoride or chlorine).
Feed your dog a fresh, whole food diet. Make sure it includes:
Again, remember that natural remedies like these are much safer and more effective than conventional medicines.
These natural solutions can help solve the issue that’s causing your dog’s hot spots. Remember … most conventional “anti” medicines just suppress the hot spot 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 find one at the AVH website or connect with the vets in DNM Elite. Most will do phone consults so they don’t have to be local.
With just a little help, you’ll be able to treat hot spots and other common issues at home.