The dreaded hot spot

By Dr. Cherice Roth, KeraVet Bio Lead Medical Advisor

Hot spots and other rashes are often just as frustrating for pet parents as they are for the dogs dealing with them. These uncomfortable patches develop as a result of several different issues. Fortunately, pet parents can treat them effectively, restoring their dogs’ happiness and comfort. Narrowing down the potential causes is essential for getting to the root of the problem and providing the best treatments possible.

What are hot spots?

A hot spot is a patch of skin that has become inflamed from a dog licking and/or scratching it frequently. They occur due to a variety of issues and can cause significant discomfort. Pet parents can treat them, but the exact treatment will vary depending on the root cause.

If a pet parent notices a hot spot on their dog, there are some things they can do immediately to minimize the discomfort. For instance, they can apply KeraVet Gel on the dog to prevent further licking. Consulting with a vet can triage the cause and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Causes of hot spots and other common dog rashes include:


Fleas are tiny parasites that feed on a dog’s blood. Their bites can cause skin irritation (dermatitis) or an allergic reaction. Dogs may chew, lick, and scratch the affected areas raw. They can also transmit tapeworms and other diseases.


Ticks are another common parasite that plagues dogs. Like fleas, they feed on a dog’s blood. However, when they bite, they remain attached. Some ticks can be stuck on a dog’s skin for several days before coming loose. Even if a pet parent removes a tick shortly after it bites a dog, the parasite can transmit Lyme disease. The pain can trigger excessive licking.


Ringworm is a fungal infection affecting a dog’s skin, hair, and nails. While not all dogs exhibit symptoms, many develop hair loss and a rash in the affected area.


Like humans, dogs can develop allergies to many different things. Some dogs have food allergies, while others may have environmental allergies. Some of the most common allergens include fleas, mites, grass, and pollen. Dogs can also be allergic to certain detergents or fragrances.

Dry Skin

Dry skin has many causes, such as allergies, a dry environment, certain illnesses, parasites, and poor nutrition. In addition to cracked, flaking skin, the issue can also lead to painful hot spots.


When a dog is in pain, the response is typically to lick the affected area. The pain may be external (such as a wound) or internal (a muscle injury or arthritis). In either case, a dog in pain may frequently lick the painful spot until the skin becomes raw and inflamed


A dog that’s stressed or anxious may lick to self-soothe. Excessive licking can quickly lead to hot spots.

Treatments for hot spots and other rashes 

With so many different causes, pet parents must get to the root of the problem to provide the most effective treatment. A vet will examine the dog and run any necessary tests before offering dog health advice and recommending the next steps. Some treatments may include:

Flea treatment: A pet parent must get rid of active fleas first. They should administer monthly flea and tick prevention.

Over-the-counter medication: In some cases, a pet parent may be able to alleviate a dog’s discomfort with hydrocortisone cream or pet diphenhydramine (Benadryl). If they choose Benadryl, they should be sure to avoid non-drowsy formulas. These medications really work for severe and chronic cases, but for acute itchy spots, it may be precisely what your pet needs.

Prescription medication: A pet parent may need a prescription-strength topical or oral medication for the most effective relief.

Skincare: A dog may need special supplements, moisturizers, or shampoos to help improve overall skin and coat health.

Something to keep the mind busy: One example is a Kong ball filled with peanut butter or a puzzle box with treats can help with anxiety.

A diet change: If the issue is food allergies, a pet parent must switch to a new type of dog food.

Lick deterrent: This used to mean putting a pet in an unwieldy, uncomfortable E-collar for the duration of the healing process, but now parents can utilize KeraVet Gel to help stop the unwanted licking behavior and help manage the wound at the same time. Without licking and biting at the area, the skin has an opportunity to heal and KeraVet Gel can provide a moist wound bed to both promote healing and provide a barrier to the environment.

No pet parent wants to see their dog in pain. Fortunately, they can do things to alleviate the discomfort of hot spots and other common dog rashes. The right treatment, however, is vital. If a pet parent notices any signs of hot spots or a rash, they should get to the bottom of the issue immediately to provide the best, most effective treatment.

Learn more about KeraVet Bio Lead Medical Advisor, , Dr. Cherice Roth, MS, DVM, by visiting her on LinkedIn.