Dog Veterinary

Ask a Dog Vet and Get Answers to Your Dog Health Questions

Ask a Dog Veterinarian,
Get an Answer ASAP!

Dog Veterinary

What can I put on my dog's hot spots?

Customer Question
My dog has HOT SPOTS...
My dog has HOT SPOTS on his back near his tail. What is a good cream I can put on him to stop his bitting and scratching? My vet is out of town, before he left he suggested to give him a Benadyl but he keeps bitting and scratching.
Submitted: 10 years ago.Category: Dog Veterinary
Show More
Show Less
Ask Your Own Dog Veterinary Question
Expert: MWindisch,
 replied 10 years ago
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 113

Hot spots on his back near his tail almost sound like a possible flea allergy. So make good and sure that there are not fleas present initiating it and making it worse. Try using a flea comb to check, if possible (may be difficult with certain types of long, thick, or curly hair). If you see dark sand grain-sized particles that when placed on a paper towel and wetted turn red, those are flea droppings. If you do find fleas, at the bottom of the post I'll include how to deal with them. If you do not find fleas, hot spots can be initiated with just an insect bite such as a tick or fly bite or can be due to a dog's coat being damp and not having dried quickly enough, or can be caused by ear problems or anal gland problems (depending on where the hot spot is located), or allergies, or skin irritants, or can be basically idiopathic (no discernable cause). My golden got a really bad hot spot last year after I used a new shampoo on her (the shampoo was something I had won in a raffle and it had the scent of coconut). My dog had an adverse reaction to the shampoo, whence the hot spots. Needless to say, I'm not using that shampoo again.

Hot spots are basically a bacterial skin infection, possibly allergy induced and progressing through self-mutilation. Unfortunately, I've discovered that the only way to convince a dog to not bother a hot spot is to totally make it impossible to reach. Meaning use an Elizabethan collar for awhile. On top of that use medications to try to clear it up.

The benadryl was a good suggestion and probably helped some, but not enough to convince your dog not to bite and scratch. If the hot spots are not getting cleared up by the time your vet returns, you may need to get your vet to supply oral antibiotics and steroids (Due to the side effects of steroids, I always try to clear a hot spot up myself before giving up and going the steroid route).

If you find no fleas - that is good. As previously mentioned, hot spots tend to have an infection component to them, so an antibiotic ointment (or topical antibiotic-steroid cream) is a good thing to start with. Another problem with hot spots, which are also called "Acute Moist Dermatitis", is that they, as the name implies, are moist and exude pus. They can appear and enlarge quite rapidly and the dog's licking and scratching does not help at all. So while an antibiotic ointment can be helpful at first, it will not help the moist puss to dry up. So the next step is to work on getting the hot spot to dry up and heal. The Elizabethan collar is still a necessity at this stage. I had almost gotten my golden's hot spot to heal - it was completely scabbed over so I took off her Elizabethan collar and she immediately re-opened it up due to the scab being itchy and I had to start the treatment all over again.

It is very important to completely clip the hair and undercoat away from the hot spot and even clear the hair from around the edges of the area. Make sure that your dog is brushed out and not shedding so that no dead moist hair is trapped next to the skin.

Things that may help:

1. gently clean the area with a surgical soap or dilute hydrogen peroxide (remember that hot spots can be incredibly painful for your dog so be careful not to traumatize your dog by cleaning the area - plus be careful not to get bitten if your dog is in pain).

2. A product called Sulfadene can be obtained at pet stores and may work well.

3. Other things I've tried on hot spots are Bag Balm (it is antiseptic, but keeps the area moist and thus not good for getting it to dry out and scab up), Petrelief medicated anti-itch spray (helps, but you still need an Elizabethan collar), ChlorhexiDerm Flush (a topical antimicrobial, cleansing/drying solution - sounds like it should "work miracles" - it is helpful, but not miraculous!), medicated Gold Bond Powder (relieves pain and itch and can help dry it up, but can get a bit crusty on the area so I've ended up having to clean it off sometimes), Wonder Dust wound powder (a horse product for open wounds - some people swear by it, can help dry up the hot spot, also can get a bit crusty and have to be cleaned off the area).

Finally, remember to deal with any underlying skin or allergy problems.

Hope this was helpful. GOOD LUCK --- Hot spots are truly a pain!

Below is info on how to deal with fleas, should you find any:

Besides a flea bath, vacuuming and spraying the house, you need to treat areas outside in which your dog occupies. Also, you need to wash all bedding that your dog lies on (it helps to spread out white towels for your dog to sleep on since these can be easily washed. If your dog has short or straight enough hair, using a flea comb is also a good idea.

Make sure that the insecticide that you use contains an insect growth regulator (an insect growth regulator prevents flea larvae from maturing).

If you have other pets such as cats, they must be treated also (however, be very cautious that the products are designed to be used on cats since cats can be poisoned by products designed for dogs).

After you have done all of this, due to the fleas' life cycle of eggs -larvae - cocoons - adult, with only 1% of the flea population being in the adult stage at any one time, you will need to repeat the ENTIRE treatment - bathing with flea shampoo, vacuuming, spraying, washing bedding, treating outside areas, etc. two weeks after the initial treatment, and possibly do a third treatment in two more weeks.

As noted above, key to controlling the fleas is to interrupt their life cycle at the immature stages so they do not develop into adults. A flea's entire life cycle can be as short as two weeks (and this is what would be expected in a warm and humid environment like that which occurs during the summer).

Because the adult fleas that we see are only a small fraction of the total population of fleas present, you must control the fleas in their immature stages to contend with constantly developing new adult fleas.

Following is detail info on a flea's life cycle:

The egg stage: flea eggs are small, while, and oval and just visible to the naked eye. They can be laid on or off the host animal. Plus they fall off the animal easily and get spread around. They hatch after a period of a few days to a few weeks.

The larval stage: The eggs hatch into a white tiny worm-like larvae. They can only be seen with the aid of a magnifying glass. This stage usually lasts from one to two weeks in a warm, humid environment. Larvae feed on dust, flea droppings, and skin scales. They prefer a dark environment and will burrow into any available material such as carpeting, cracks in floors, or furniture fabric. They often occur near a pet's resting or sleeping areas. Direct exposure to water is lethal to larvae. Also, a spray containing an insect growth regulator prevents them from developing.

The cocoon or pupal stage: The larvae spin small whitish cocoons called pupae to complete development into the adult flea. The adult may emerge from its cocoon after only one week or may not emerge for over a year. Good environmental conditions, vibrations of the host animal walking, and the warm temperature and pressure of a sleeping animal on the cocoon itself will cause a flea to emerge from its cocoon.

Eggs, larvae, and cocoons are all killed when temperatures surpass 95 degrees F.

The adult stage: This is the flea that is familiar to people. Once it emerges from its cocoon, it looks for a suitable host for a blood source for food. Flea infestations happen due to a female flea being able to lay as many as 30 eggs per day for several months or more.

Good luck in getting rid of the fleas. Treating every two weeks for a month and a half should get rid of them (unless they are being brought in from outside - such as on an outside cat).

Ask Your Own Dog Veterinary Question
Ask MWindisch Your Own Question
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 113

MWindisch is online now

How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an ExpertExperts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional AnswerVia email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction GuaranteeRate the answer you receive.

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

It was so professional, so personally concerned (as we were) and you answered all of our questions. George and I are so happy that I found "JustAnswer" on my Google search -- you are now in my "Favorites" list! And, yes we do love our kitty - she makes our life complete!

Bev & George, Boca Raton, FL

Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help.

Mary C., Freshfield, Liverpool, UK

This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!!

Alex, Los Angeles, CA

Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult.

GP, Hesperia, CA

I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion.

Justin, Kernersville, NC

Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around.

Esther, Woodstock, NY

Thank you so much for taking your time and knowledge to support my concerns. Not only did you answer my questions, you even took it a step further with replying with more pertinent information I needed to know.

Robin, Elkton, Maryland

< Previous | Next >

Meet The Experts:

Dr. Debbie

Dog Veterinarian

Satisfied Customers:: 902

Companion animal veterinarian practicing for over 10 years.

Dr. Andy

Medical Director

Satisfied Customers:: 16066

UC Davis graduate, emphasis in dermatology, internal medicine, pain management

Dr. Gary

Dog Veterinarian

Satisfied Customers:: 9936

DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)

Dr. Scott


Satisfied Customers:: 9615

15 years of small animal, equine and pocket pet medicine and surgery.

Dr Scott Nimmo

Dog Veterinarian

Satisfied Customers:: 9451

BVMS, MRCVS. { Glasgow UK }

Dr. Bruce


Satisfied Customers:: 8713

15 years of experience as a small animal veterinarian


Dog Veterinarian

Satisfied Customers:: 7170

More than 30 years of companion animal practice.

< Previous | Next >

Disclaimer: Information in questions, answers, and other posts on this site ("Posts") comes from individual users, not JustAnswer; JustAnswer is not responsible for Posts. Posts are for general information, are not intended to substitute for informed professional advice (medical, legal, veterinary, financial, etc.), or to establish a professional-client relationship. The site and services are provided "as is" with no warranty or representations by JustAnswer regarding the qualifications of Experts. To see what credentials have been verified by a third-party service, please click on the "Verified" symbol in some Experts' profiles. JustAnswer is not intended or designed for EMERGENCY questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals.

Show MoreShow Less

Ask Your Question