As several of you may know, I have two dogs that suffer from severe allergies and one, Calvin, that is prone to hot spots.
Calvin is on an assortment of medicine for his allergies and his Irritable Bowel Disease.
His IBD requires that he is on a unique steroid, but between the steroid and one of his allergy medicines, his immune system isn’t as strong as it should be, making him more susceptible to infection.
One of the more common infections he suffers from is hotspots.
I usually use either traditional prescription treatments or essential oils, but I didn’t have either the last time we traveled.
Since it’s critical to attend to hot spots as soon as they flare up, I wanted to start treatment right away.
However, without my regular treatment options, I started to research coconut oil since I know it’s been used as an antifungal and antibiotic.
I currently had my jar of coconut oil with me since I was treating a sebaceous adenoma on Sophie.
Coconut Oil for Hotspots?
After doing a little reading, I was comfortable trying the coconut oil after I had cleaned the area first.
Additionally, it is essential to mention that his hot spot was minor and did not have any signs of lesions and was not actively weeping.
Because we have dealt with chronic hot spots, I knew what I was looking at, and also knew what to look for in the event it worsened.
Had Calvin’s condition been more severe, I would have had to treat it differently, and likely would have had to call my vet to order a prescription into one of the local hospitals in the area.
Below are my findings on how to use coconut oil to treat hot spots.
But before deciding to use a home treatment, always consult your veterinarian first and be sure that this is the best treatment option for your pup.
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I know we as dog parents don’t want to overmedicate our dogs with antibiotics, making natural options more appealing.
But there are times that traditional medicine is needed instead of natural home remedies.
Coconut Oil Benefits for Dog Hot Spots
Coconut oil has numerous health benefits for dogs, including treating hot spot flareups.
Listed below are the different advantages of using coconut oil to aid in healing, managing, and avoiding infections commonly associated with hot spots.
Benefit 1: Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties. Antimicrobials eliminate or stop the growth of bacteria and fungus.
Coconut’s antimicrobial properties come from lauric acid (12:0 saturated fatty acid), which is one of the most inhibatory fatty acids.
Benefit 2: Coconut oil has antibacterial properties. According to the NCBI, coconut oil can halt the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and aid the body’s phagocytic immune cells in fighting Staphylococcus aureus.
Benefit 3: Coconut oil reduces inflammation and acts as an analgesic (pain killer).
Benefit 4: Coconut oil can aid in healing wounds. Coconut oil has long been used in wound healing since it:
- Increases the rate of healing
- Increases antioxidant levels
- Increases collagen, an essential protein needed to aid in healing
Coconut oil can aid in healing minor hot spot flareups but can cause more irritation or worsen the condition if your dog has moderate to severe hot spots.
Hot spots are a moist wound that generally needs to be dried out.
However, depending on the cause of the hot spot, it may also require an anti-fungal or antibiotic to ensure a full recovery.
Methods for Using Coconut Oil on Hot Spots
There are a few treatment options for managing hot spots with coconut oil.
Also, there are preventative measures in which coconut oil can be used for hot spots.
Method 1 – Direct Application
- Step 1: Cut the hair away from the hot spot about 1 inch around the infected area
- Step 2: Gently clean the area by pouring warm water over the infected area
- Step 3: Gently dab at the area with a clean to towel to dry the hot spot thoroughly
- Step 4: Apply a thin layer of coconut oil over the area
Be sure to check the area frequently, as applying coconut oil can cause more significant irritation since some hot spots heal faster when left to dry on their own.
Do not use more than once a day unless directed to by your veterinarian.
Method 2 – Shampoo
Using an oatmeal shampoo with coconut oil mixed in can provide relief from itching and discomfort associated with hot spots.
The added coconut oil can aid in reducing inflammation, treating and preventing bacterial infections, and aid in reducing pain.
- Step 1: Cut the hair around the hot spot about 1 inch around the infected area
- Step 2: Mix a 50/50 solution of shampoo and coconut oil
- Step 3: Wash your dog as usual, but allow the shampoo to sit for 5-10 minutes
- Step 4: Rinse thoroughly with warm water
- Step 5: Fully dry your dog especially the area around the hot spot
Method 3 – Direct Application with Essential Oils
- Step 1: Mix essential oils with coconut oil. For more information, see our article on using essential oils for hot spots
- Step 2: Cut the hair away from the hot spot about 1 inch around the infected area
- Step 3: Gently clean the area by pouring warm water over the infected area
- Step 4: Gently dab at the area with a clean to towel to dry the hot spot thoroughly
- Step 5: Smear a thin layer of the coconut and essential oil mixture over the area
Method 1 – Orally
Fleas cause some hot spots, and using coconut oil orally can both prevent and eliminate fleas.
Give your dog 1 tsp of coconut oil per 30 pounds of weight, twice a day.
However, start with 1/2 the daily dose (or less) to avoid GI upset, then slowly build to the full amount.
Method 2 – Topically
Using the shampoo method above every month will do two things: First, it can kill and prevent fleas, and second, it can aid in promoting good skin health, which can also help in preventing hot spots.
The key is to ensure that the oil is thoroughly rinsed out to avoid skin irritation or clogged pores.
Plus, be sure to dry your dog completely to avoid hot spots due to moisture trapped against the skin.
Related: Coconut Oil in Dog Food: Is it Safe and Healthy for Dogs?
Possible Side Effects to Using Coconut Oil for Hotspots
Though coconut oil is generally a safe home remedy, there are some possible adverse side effects such as:
- Allergic Reaction – This can be from ingestion or when used topically. Some dogs have food intolerances or allergies to coconut oil. So, it is best to keep an eye on your dog after giving coconut oil orally for the first time. Additionally, coconut oil can cause skin irritation, such as rashes or redness.
- Clogged Pores – When using coconut oil for a prolonged time without cleaning it off, coconut oil can clog the pores. Clogged pores look like blackheads and can also appear as red bumps. To avoid this, be sure not to use excessive amounts and clean the area after application.
- Pancreatitis – Ingesting coconut oil can cause pancreatitis to flare-up because of its high-fat content.
- Weight Gain – Dogs who suffer from a weight issue should only receive coconut oil orally in small amounts as it is calorie dense and can contribute to obesity issues.
What are Hotspots – Causes and Symptoms
Hot spots, also commonly known as moist dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes:
- Skin inflammation
- Moist weepy sores
Hotspots are uncomfortable and even painful for dogs.
If given a chance, dogs will often try and lick the infected area, causing the condition to worsen.
You may likely need to use an Elizabethan collar to keep your dog from licking the affected area.
Hotspots develop quickly, sometimes overnight, and, left unattended, can cause significant lesions and infections.
Using coconut oil isn’t my first choice to treat a hot spot since it is often best to keep the area dry.
However, if you don’t have traditional medication, and if the hot spot isn’t extremely infected, coconut oil will likely work to heal the skin and prevent infection.
But as I mentioned earlier, it is best to check with a certified veterinarian before treating the hot spot on your own.
What Is the Best Coconut Oil for Hot Spots?
The best coconut oil to use for hot spots is cold-pressed virgin coconut oil.
Can Essential Oils Be Used with Coconut Oil for Hot Spots?
Using the combination of the two together can increase the healing process.