You’re sitting there watching your poor pet scratch, scratch, scratch, but you’ve no idea why. Combing through their coat, you might not see any sign of fleas, but you may begin to notice red, inflamed, painful-looking patches of skin and even a little hair loss here and there. It certainly seems like it could be caused by bites… but then again, it very well might not be. Likely what you’re dog is dealing with is something known as hot spots. 

Hot spots are actually one of the most common canine skin complaints, but what are they, what causes them, and what should you do when you find them on your pet? Here we cover that and the top recommended treatments and hot spot shampoo for dogs. Let’s take a look. 

Table of Contents

Top 10 Hot Spot Treatments Preferred by Vets 

If you’ve already done all the research and are just here for the recommendations, here they are – with links to where you can get hold of them. However, if you’d like to learn more about hot spots and what you can do to prevent or deal with them, keep reading.

What Hot Spots Are And Why They Happen

Otherwise known as pyoderma or acute, moist dermatitis, hot spots are localized areas of skin inflammation and bacterial infection. Caused by pretty much anything that irritates the skin, they start off as small red patches that can all too easily be mistaken for insect bites. However, if left untreated, they will rapidly spread, and the redness and inflammation will get much worse, developing into hot, oozing, and painful sores. 

While hot spots can be triggered by bug bites, allergies, excess moisture in the coat, and dirt and debris, they are further exacerbated by the actual scratching, licking, and chewing that any of these might result in. This creates reddening and inflammation, which makes the area even itchier. With more digging, the trauma inflicted on the skin can result in bacterial infections that will make the situation far worse than that. 

Many of the above tend to be chronic problems that can lead to reoccurring hot spots if the underlying situation isn’t appropriately managed. That’s why treating the symptoms of the hot spot is only the first step with dealing with this issue. You also should factor in the time of year. Hot spots are more likely during warm weather and periods of high humidity. Dogs are also more likely to swim during this time, which can also worsen the issue. 

Some breeds are more likely to have issues with hot spots due to their thicker double-layered coats. These include Golden Retrievers, St. Bernards, German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, and Rottweilers. So if your Doodle has any of their genes and has inherited a thicker coat, you’ll need to do more to ensure hot spots don’t occur in the first place. Luckily there are plenty of things you can do to stop them from happening. 

How To Prevent Hot Spots On Your Dog

Once you have identified the underlying cause of the hot spots finding the right way to prevent future breakouts should be pretty effortless. It might involve:

  • Keeping fleas, ticks, and other pests away
  • Regular grooming to reduce knots and matting 
  • Hydrating shampoos to keep skin soft and supple
  • Increased daily exercise to ward off boredom licking 
  • Supplements such as omega fatty acids to boost skin health
  • A change in diet if you suspect allergies may be to blame

Top Treatment Choices for Canine Hot Spots

As everybody knows well, prevention is better than cure. However, it’s not always possible to prevent every single thing that might cause irritation to your pet’s skin. If you’ve noticed new red patches on your pup and you suspect you are dealing with hot spots, here’s what to do about it: 

Firstly make sure that hot spots are definitely the problem. Hot spots are most commonly seen on the head, legs, and hips. They are pretty well-defined areas of redness with accompanying patches of hair loss. They are moist and may have crusty areas that discharge pus or other kinds of fluid. Hot spots are painful, itchy, and spread quickly – especially if your dog is scratching and biting them. However, other skin conditions can have pretty similar symptoms, so if in doubt, make sure to have a chat with your vet. 

Treating hot spots typically involves clipping the surrounding area to enable air to circulate freely and dry out the problem zone. Gently cleansing the skin with water and an appropriate treatment (spray, cream, shampoo) that will deal with the infection while easing the more uncomfortable symptoms. Drying the area thoroughly after washing to avoid leaving excess moisture behind and making the problem worse. 

Most hot spots should heal within 7 to 10 days, and your pup’s hair should start to grow back in 2 – 3 weeks. If you can top your pet from licking or scratching at the area, this will help it heal much faster. 

Hot Spot Treatments: Buyer’s Guide

So now that you know all about hot spots and have some handy ways for both preventing them and dealing with them when they do rear their ugly head – it’s time to talk treatments. Most of these will be topical, although they may be applied in different ways, and they definitely make use of different ingredients that can be more or less effective. 

Sprays vs. Shampoos

Spays and shampoos are the two more common treatment options. Although, each offers distinct advantages and disadvantages. 

Sprays tend to be the best option for particularly severe cases that are limited to specific areas. These usually contain more active ingredients or a higher concentration of them as they are designed to be applied only to problem areas. Look for something with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, at the very least. These reduce itchiness while ensuring that no infection sets in. The difficulty with these comes from trying to prevent your pet from licking the spray right off before it’s had a chance to do its good work.

Hot spot shampoo for dogs work better as treatments for general itchiness, as well as more extensive patches of hot spots (the medicated ones). They, too, contain effective ingredients, but manufacturers need to ensure these won’t damage healthy skin – that’s why shampoos don’t tend to be as potent. However, they are very versatile, helping with other skin conditions, and you don’t have to worry about your pet licking them off – although getting them in the tub in the first place is certainly something to think about!

Active/NonActive Ingredients

Another good way to approach picking out the right treatment for your pet is to take a look at some of the active ingredients. In the treatment of hot spots, you’ll want something that will reduce the heat and swelling (anti-inflammatory), something that will tackle the bacterial issue and lower the chances of infection (antibacterial/ antimicrobial), and then various botanicals (natural is always better for this) that can soothe painful, itchy skin – aloe vera, chamomile and any kind of mint always works well for this.  

Hot Spot Treatments: Reviews

Best For Dealing With Dry Skin: Vetericyn FoamCare Medicated Shampoo for Pets

For a shampoo that can quickly sort out psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, hot spots, and more, you can’t go wrong with this one. The blend of medicated and soothing ingredients, including salicylic acid, known for its anti-inflammatory and skin-cleansing properties, allantoin, which stimulates healthy tissue growth, and sodium hydroxide to maintain healthy pH levels add up to one highly effective hot spot treatment. 

Vetericyn FoamCare Medicated Shampoo for Pets

This excellent hot spot shampoo for dogs is our top pick because of its outstanding reviews, with 100% of purchases saying they would recommend the product to a friend. Not only were reviewers pleased by the effect the shampoo had on their pet’s skin, but they were thrilled by the convenient spray bottle applicator, and the foaming action of the shampoo, which makes for a great lather, means very little was needed to cover even a larger dog. 


  • As well as containing excellent ingredients for eradicating various skin conditions, the consistency of the shampoo makes it super easy to use.


  • There’s not really much of a smell to this shampoo – but that isn’t really what it’s about.

Best For Inflammation Relief: Zymox Topical Spray with Hydrocortisone 1.0% for Dogs & Cats

If you’re seeking out all the effectiveness of a hot spot shampoo without having to deal with the actual bathing your pet thing (something that can be more hassle than it’s worth), this topical spray will do you nicely. The gentle  LP3 Enzyme System, with its antimicrobial properties, provides natural first-aid care for a variety of skin conditions. At the same time, hydrocortisone reduces swelling and gives effective and much-needed relief from itching.

Zymox Topical Spray with Hydrocortisone 1.0% for Dogs

Again the reviews are overwhelmingly positive for this fab product. Many pet parents choose it because constant washing tends to dry their pet’s skin out further. It does exactly what it says on the tin – reducing itching while helping hot spots to heal. Moreover, the taste of the treatment seems to discourage licking of the wound after application, meaning that the active ingredients are able to do their thing that much faster. 


  • A product that works well, has a measurable impact on itching, and discourages licking and biting, too – win, win, win!


  • Pet parents with lighter-colored pups mention that they have noticed some yellow staining in the areas the treatment was applied to.

Best For Really Sensitive Pups: Vet’s Best Hot Spot Shampoo for Dogs

Dogs with super sensitive skin are among those most prone to hot spots. Unfortunately, this also means that most treatments won’t be great for them. The kind of chemicals used for treating skin problems can make things much worse. Well, all except for this one. With its limited ingredient list featuring all-natural products, this veterinarian-formulated shampoo is mild enough for regular use yet still fights off painful hot spots.

Vet’s Best Hot Spot Shampoo for Dogs

Seemingly a great shampoo to help with tight, dry, and itchy skin, pet parents of dogs with allergies love this brilliant botanical blend. It’s also good to use in tandem with flea-busting treatments, which is good news if you’re dealing with both in one go. The excellently cooling ingredients are perfect for soothing skin and nerves alike, and it leaves absolutely nothing behind but soft skin and shiny, healthy hair. 


  • This is a great shampoo if you’re constantly battling hot spots and just generally dry, itchy, flaky skin. It cleans and soothes without drying skin out further.


  • Some reviewers note the strong tea tree smell in the shampoo – which some like and others definitely do not.

Best For More Severe Cases: Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Spray

Likely the most medicated of all the sprays on our list, Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Spray contains some truly powerful active ingredients for dealing with hot spots and open wounds. Lidocaine is an analgesic that helps relieve itching, hydrocortisone is an anti-inflammatory agent, allantoin stimulates wound healing, glycerin alleviates skin irritations caused by dry skin, and wheat germ oil has emollient and antioxidant properties. 

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Spray

Marketed as “vet-strength skin care,” this product really does seem to live up to that – well, so say the reviews anyway. It’s probably one of the most potent treatments for hot spots that you can get without a prescription – in fact, according to some reviewers, it’s far better! The spray starts working the moment you apply it, noticeably reducing scratching, with healing visible after just a few days. It comes highly recommended. 


  • A great list of ingredients that you know is going to work – and work quickly too.


  • Some users have reported a strong smell and issues when their pet has licked away the product.

Best For Preventative Care: Earthbath Hot Spot Relief Tea Tree & Aloe Dog Shampoo

Designed for dealing with common everyday skin irritations that can lead to hotspots, Earthbath’s hot spot shampoo for dogs is soap-, paraben-, and phosphate-free for a pet care formula you can trust. The active ingredients: tea tree and aloe vera act as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial while providing the kind of skin-nourishing moisture that helps keep your pet feeling and looking good too. This shampoo is cleaning, comforting, and all-around great! 

Earthbath Hot Spot Relief Tea Tree & Aloe Dog Shampoo

One happy reviewer dubs this product “This is the best shampoo ever, regardless of hot spot relief,” and this sums it up. Not only is it great for dealing with itchy, inflamed, and painful skin, but it cleans well and smells terrific too. Its calming effect extends well beyond the skin too. Another pet parent noted that their previously tub-loathing dog now steps in with ease. What better endorsement of a pet shampoo is there than that?! 


  • A great brand in pet care, Earthbath has developed a whole range of excellent shampoos that do precisely what they say they do.


  • Some pups may be sensitive to the tea tree content of the shampoo. If you suspect this may be the case, consult your vet.

Best For Sorely Abused Skin: Vetericyn Plus Antimicrobial Pet Hot Spot Spray

Formulated to treat the various symptoms of hot spots, such as excessive scratching and biting at already painful areas, this 100% non-toxic healing spray is quick and easy to use. Great for not just healing hotspots, thanks to the active ingredient hypochlorous acid with its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, but also for taking your pet’s attention from them while they are healing by reducing the itch factor by a lot! 

Vetericyn Plus Antimicrobial Pet Hot Spot Spray

Probably the biggest plus point for reviewers of this product, aside from the fact that it works to reduce hot spots, of course, is that it does so without the need for harsh chemicals that can cause their own problems for the skin. This is also a relief for anyone who’s ever tried to apply a product to their pup and keep it there without it being speedily and enthusiastically licked off – you don’t need to worry about any toxic effects. 


  • An easy-to-use product perfect for dealing with hot spots while ensuring that areas of broken skin don’t become infected.


  • While this treats the symptoms of hot spots, it likely won’t deal with the underlying cause, so they are free to return and return again. 

Best For Deep Cleaning Action: NaturVet Septiderm-V Bath Skin Care Dog Grooming Aid

Another veterinarian-recommended blend that helps to relieve itching and irritated skin issues caused by hot spots, flea bites, dermatitis, rashes, and skin allergies, NaturVet’s Grooming Aid is a highly versatile product. Not only does it help with hot spots, but it effectively cleans even the stinkiest of dogs, removing dirt without stripping protective oils from their coat. It also helps to control static electricity and reduce flyaway hair. 

NaturVet Septiderm-V Bath Skin Care Dog Grooming Aid

While reviews are a little limited for this product, on the whole, they are glowing, with reviewers reporting quick relief for itchiness for their pets and reduced instances of redness too. It seems to do particularly good things for dogs with seasonal allergies – so that’s definitely worth noting. Used in conjunction with other products from the brand, it seems you can have it all, and groomers also seem to rate it. 


  • Many hot spot shampoos target this one issue and forget about everything else – not so with this excellent all-rounder.



  • Reviews mention how well the shampoo works on red, sore, dry, flaky, and itchy skin, but there’s no specific mention of how it does with hot spots.

Best For Better Skin Health: Sulfodene Medicated Hot Spot & Itch Relief Spray for Dogs

A great thing about this excellent spray is that it combines the very best of what makes topical sprays so effective with those that make shampoos so good too. Benzethonium chloride is the active part of the treatment helping with damaged skin and forming a protective seal over the skin. At the same time, the pro-vitamin dl panthenol works as a skin conditioning agent providing deep penetrating moisture and reducing inflammation. 

Sulfodene Medicated Hot Spot & Itch Relief Spray for Dogs

This seems to work on a variety of skin issues, as evidenced by the number of positive reviews. As far as hot spots go, it deals with them relatively quickly and, unlike other treatments, actively works to prevent them from reappearing by boosting the skin’s overall health. Many reviewers also mention the “pleasant apple scent,” which is so much better than what pet parents usually have to cope with from medicated sprays. 


  • While the active ingredients against hot spots and other skin infections are good, the added skin-nourishing action takes the product to the next level.


  • This seems to do the trick with the healing part, but some comments suggest the anti-itch effects are a little too temporary.

his seems to do the trick with the healing part, but some comments suggest the anti-itch effects are a little too temporary.

Best For Fungal Issues: MiconaHex+Triz Spray for Dogs

With antiseptic chlorhexidine to fight bacteria and miconazole, which is used to treat fungal skin infections like ringworm, MiconaHex+Triz’s Spray is another incredibly versatile option. While not explicitly marketed towards healing hot spots, it is designed to treat certain contributors. The product’s non-active ingredients include various oils for softer, more supple skin and less prone to irritation. 

MiconaHex+Triz Spray for Dogs

Reviews for this spray are slightly more mixed than most others on this list. This seems to come down to two main pain points – the first being that some dogs have had an adverse reaction to the chemicals in the product – the second that it leaves hair feeling sticky. However, the issue might be with how the spray is being used, as plenty of reviews talk about how well it works. Be sure to follow instructions carefully. 


  • A topical spray with excellent active ingredients for treating the underlying issues that result in hotspots, including bacterial and fungal infections.


  • Might be a little too potent for dogs with more sensitive skin. You might want to do a patch test or speak with your vet before using this product.

Best For Dealing With Seasonal Allergies: NaturVet Aller-911 Allergy Aid Hot Spot Plus Aloe Vera Dog Foam

The second of our NaturVet products, this particular one, is explicitly designed to deal with the nasty skin side effects of seasonal allergies. Although it will help with the aftereffects of food sensitivities, among other things. With all-natural ingredients specifically selected for their calming properties, this excellent spray is perfect even for pups with extra delicate skin. The foaming part makes it super easy to apply. 

NaturVet Aller-911 Allergy Aid Hot Spot Plus Aloe Vera Foam

Again the reviews for this product aren’t quite as excellent as for others on this list, but we still feel it’s worth your consideration. For a start, most of the less glowing reviews come from cat parents and are to do with them licking the product off. With dogs, it seems to do far better, although you might want to check whether your pal has any problems with tea tree before applying liberally – this can cause problems for some pups. 


  • Probably the best thing about this product is the fast-drying element which is perfect for those who can’t get their pooch to quit licking treatments away.


  • As with other tea tree products, this has a pungent smell. You might want to wear gloves when applying it.

Home Remedy Alternatives For Hot Spots

While designated treatments are definitely the way to go for more severe cases of hot spots, when there are multiple areas affected by this issue, or for hounds that have recurring problems with them, for all others, you might try a few things that you likely already have about the house before bringing out the big guns. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

Chances are you’ve already heard of the many benefits of apple cider vinegar for treating many different canine skin issues – everything from fleas to mange. That’s because this excellent ingredient is antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal too! Make sure to opt for an organic, unpasteurized brand and to dilute it (1:3) before application so it doesn’t sting.

Coconut Oil

Also antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal, coconut oil is another super natural remedy. As an added benefit, it’s also highly moistening for dry skin, and, let’s be honest, it smells a bit better than apple cider vinegar! Make sure to get unrefined, cold-pressed, organic kind for best results, and then dab it on whenever you see your pet scratching. 

Canine Hot Spots: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best thing to put on a dog’s hot spots?

As you can see from the number of treatments in this article alone, you have a lot of options for dealing with your pet’s bothersome hot spots. The best thing to do is to determine why they are occurring in the first place – fleas, seasonal allergies, infections… and take it from there. This will help you decide on the vital ingredients needed. 

Will a dog hot spot go away on its own?

It’s unlikely, but not entirely unheard of, for hot spots to clear up without being treated. Usually, though, they get far worse when left and spread too. Part of this will be due to your pup’s frantic scratching and biting, which can not only exacerbate the problem but will likely be difficult for you to watch without doing anything to help them feel better. 

Can I put coconut oil on my dog’s hot spot?

Coconut is a potential natural remedy for minor, isolated cases of hot spots. The oil’s naturally antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties make it great for cleaning up various skin issues. It can also help improve the condition of your pet’s dry, flaky skin by locking in more moisture which, in turn, will make your pup less susceptible to hot spots. 

Should you bathe a dog with hotspots?

While frequent bathing of a dog with skin issues should generally be avoided as this will only serve to dry out their skin even more, many of the more effective hot spot treatments come in shampoo form. Use these as per the manufacturer’s instructions for best results. However, if your pup has particularly dry skin, a spray might be the best option. 

What foods cause hot spots on dogs?

Poodles can have pretty sensitive bellies, and this is something that can be passed along to their Doodle offspring. Various food sensitivities can manifest as skin issues – especially the really, really itchy kind. Common culprits for this include ingredients added as cheap fillers like wheat gluten and corn, as well as chicken and other poultry products. 

Hot Spot Shampoo For Dogs: Final Thoughts

Hot spots can be a major downer for many dog owners and their pets – especially at certain times of the year. As you love your dog, it’s only natural for you to want to find a way to relieve their suffering. However, expensive visits to the vet for even more costly prescriptions might have you casting around for a better way. That’s why we have created this article, to showcase some of the amazing hot spot treatments out there that work well and don’t cost an arm and a leg! Hopefully, you’ll be able to find the right one to relieve your Dood’s itchiness and have them back to their happy self in no time at all. 

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