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There are a few things you may think of when we say hot spot. No, we’re not referring to a place where you can connect to the internet or that patch of sun that your pet loves to lay in during the afternoon light. Instead, we’re talking about one dog’s most common skin conditions, especially during the summer months.

Sometimes appearing out of nowhere, hot spots on dogs can begin spreading rapidly throughout your pup’s body as painful, oozing sores. Ouch, but the good news is that hot spots on dogs can be prevented and treated with the proper care. If you’re wondering how to treat hot spots on a dog or what dog hot spot causes are, we’ve got a few tips to share with you.

What is a dog hot spot?

According to the AKC, hot spots on dogs (acute moist dermatitis) are confined areas of skin inflammation and bacterial infection. 

What do hot spots look like on a dog?

Unassuming at first, hot spots on dogs may appear as small red areas that are often mistaken for insect bites. No big deal, right? Wrong. These red marks will quickly worsen and spread, transforming into a hot and painful lesion that tends to ooze. Hot spots on dogs can be found anywhere on their bodies, but most commonly on their head, legs, and hips.

On a short-haired dog, they’ll be easily visible, but if your pup has a long and thick coat, it is important to check underneath from time to time to make sure everything is looking okay.  

What causes dog hot spots?

Dog hot spot causes may vary. Oftentimes, dog hot spots are caused by excess scratching, licking and chewing of the skin, or other self-inflicted trauma, but what causes hot spots on dogs can depend on a few other aspects. These include


One of the most common dog food allergy symptoms is hot spots. If hot spots develop while your dog is on a traditional dry food diet, it may be time to consider switching their food. Dry foods and kibbles can contain up to 30 ingredients, meaning determining the culprit allergen is going to pose quite a challenge. If you want to try something new for your pet, raw food is a great option. They’re low-glycemic, single-ingredient diets that make narrowing down an allergen very easy (and your dog will love the great taste, too). We recommend trying our Bold by Nature Pure Duck or Pure Pork recipes, as they offer dogs an amazing protein choice that is completely free of carbohydrates.

 With that in mind, dog breeders often try to eliminate allergies and sensitivities in their lines in order to prevent allergies and hot spot development in the future. Along with food, dogs can also be allergic to pollen, dust mites, flea bites, and other environmental irritants which can all cause hot spots on their skin. Bichon Frise, German Shepherds, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers are known to be more prone to allergies than other breeds.


Waterview Animal Hospital says that dog hot spots can be caused by bacteria that live on the skin, such as Staphylococcus, a bacteria around the mouth. This is natural to canines and can’t affect humans, but the bacteria and excessive licking are what can kickstart hot spots on dogs


Hot spots on dogs that are keen swimmers or who have longer coats are more common since moisture can get trapped on their skin. Once trapped, it creates an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. Remember, it’s always important to dry our dogs well after they’ve been swimming. A bath wouldn’t hurt either, especially if they’ve been swimming in natural bodies of water.


Canines that are stressed, anxious, or nervous may begin licking or chewing at their skin, which can cause hot spots on dogs to develop. The chewing creates inflammation and promotes a moist environment where bacteria will grow, causing further itching and scratching, and eventually a dog hot spot. 

Keep an eye out

Each of the aforementioned conditions can lead to the frequent occurrence of hot spots on dogs, so careful management and attention are key to prevention and treatment.

Dog running with stick
Do standing with owner

Dog hot spot treatment

Depending on the severity of the condition, treating hot spots on dogs can be done by yourself at home or with the help of your holistic veterinarian. Here are some steps you can take to treat hot spots on dogs

Clean the affected areas

Use an antiseptic solution to remove any bacteria and prevent further infection hot spots on dogs.

Trim the hair

If your dog has a longer coat, there could be a hot spot located underneath. Trim the hair surrounding the hot spots on dogs to allow air to circulate and help the area dry. If your dog is sensitive to trims, have a professional groomer do it for you.

Apply a cool compress

Applying a cool compress will help reduce inflammation and soothe the skin around hot spots on dogs.

Use a topical treatment

Sometimes your holistic veterinarian may prescribe a topical treatment for hot spots on dogs. This may include things like corticosteroid cream to reduce inflammation and relieve the urge to itch.

Reduce stress

Helping your pet stay calm and relaxed is a one-way ticket to a hot spot-free zone. Provide your pup with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and a comfortable living environment to avoid hot spots on dogs.

Change your dog’s diet

As we previously mentioned, pet food allergies can lead to hot spots on dogs. Feeding a raw diet, like our Bold By Nature recipes, is ideal as they are limited in high glycemic carbohydrates that tend to feed yeasts and other skin irritants. Just keep in mind that all dogs are different, so how much raw food to feed a dog will all depend on your pup’s size and weight.

On top of feeding a highly nutritious raw pet food diet, you can also add Bold by Nature raw supplements to their meals, like green lipped mussel for dogs. These supplements add a boost to their bowl and are a terrific way to improve overall wellness, promote a healthier coat, and more.

Take a trip to the vet

This one is self-explanatory, but if hot spots on dogs is a recurring event in your household, it is important to make a trip to your holistic veterinarian for proper treatment and prevention.

Where can I get Bold by Nature products?

If your pet is experiencing hot spots on dogs, it could be time to get started on a raw journey! You can purchase raw food for dogs in Canada online or at a local retailer that carries Bold by Nature products. If you’re unsure of which stores carry our products, you can use our location finder to explore retailers near you.