The 6 Best Essential Oils for Your Dog’s Hotspots

Essential Oils for Your Dog's Hotspots

Fall is the worst for allergy season in Minnesota.

Calvin, Sophie, and I are all suffering from the ragweed and outdoor molds common to fall.

Sophie gets itchy, I get congested, and Calvin tends to lick.

Calvin licks his abdomen area, and the combination of moisture and warmth often results in a gooey gross red hotspot.

It is not unusual for us to battle one or two hotspot flare-ups every fall.

Hotspots are quite unpleasant and uncomfortable for Calvin.

We do anything we can to keep him comfortable while at the same time treating the affected area.

My History with Hotspots

How to treat dog hot spots inflammation stop licking irritation with comfy cone

Calvin in his Comfy Cone

Unfortunately, for Calvin, he has to wear his comfy cone (though I don’t think he thinks it’s so comfy) to keep him from licking the hotspot while it heals. 

Traditionally, we use prescription medication for his hotspots.

However, this past weekend, when he had a flareup, I realized we had run out of his medicine.  Of course, our vet wasn’t open until Monday, and his flareup didn’t warrant an emergency vet visit.

After doing a little research for home remedies, I found some great information about using essential oils for treating hotspots, so I gave it a whirl.

What are Hotspots?

What are hot spots on dogs signs symptoms how to tell identify pain

What hotspots might look like

Hotspots, aka acute moist dermatitis, is a condition that causes the skin to become inflamed, irritated, moist, and sometimes weepy.

Hotspots are uncomfortable for dogs.

If given a chance, dogs will often try and lick the infected area, one of their few external signs of pain.

Hotspots develop quickly and, left unattended, can cause significant lesions.

Possible Side Effects to Using Essential Oils for Hotspots

All essential oils come with some risk.

Regardless if an essential oil is deemed safe for most dogs, sometimes individual dogs will suffer side effects.

Though there are not a lot of side effects, the most common one is skin irritation.

Dogs, like humans, have different sensitivities, so some dogs may experience skin irritation or inflammation, essentially making the hotspot area worse.

It is vital to keep an eye on the are after treating the hotspot until you know your dog will not have an adverse reaction to the oils.

Using Essential Oils for Hotspots

Now Solutions sweet almond carrier oil fractionated coconut dilute essential safety

Don’t forget the carrier oil!

Before jumping into the best essential oils for hotspots, it is critical to state that if your dog has severe hotspots with open sores to seek immediate medical attention.

Essential oils work well for managing minor flareups but can cause more irritation to severe hotspot flareups.

Also, before applying essential oils to hotspots, it is crucial to clean the area with an antiseptic soap and pat the area completely dry[1].

Some of the following essential oils are have analgesic properties, which means they soothe your dog’s pain. Anti-inflammatory properties may be more important because they target the hotspot itself.

The Best Essential Oils for Hotspots

OilLatin NamePropertiesAlso Helps WithPrice
CalendulaCalendula officinalisAntiseptic, Anti-Inflammatory, Promotes Tissue GrowthEar Washing, Wound Healing$

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St. John's WortHypericum perforatumAntioxidant, Antimicrobial, Anti-InflammatoryAnxiety, Depression, Wound Healing$$

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GeraniumPelargonium x asperumAntiseptic, AntibacterialAnxiety, Infections$$$

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ChamomileMatricaria recutitaAnalgesic, Anti-InflammatoryAnxiety$$$$$

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HelichrysumHelichrysum gymnocephalumAnalgesic, Antibacterial, Anti-InflammatoryInfections$$

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Sweet MarjoramOriganum majoranaAnalgesic, AntisepticFleas, Infections$$$

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Calendula

What it Does

Calendula officinalis essential oil relieve hot spots promote healing

Click the image for more info

Calendula can aid in reducing skin irritation, relieving itchiness, and inflammation associated with hotspots.

It can also assist in promoting the healing of wounds and skin infections.

How it Works

The chemicals in calendula help to grow new tissue as well as decrease inflammation.

Calendula is also a weak antiseptic[2].

How to Use Calendula

Calendula is best used topically with coconut oil. Coconut oil has anti-microbial, anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory qualities[3].

Use a small amount on clean, dry skin and rub it into the skin. 

Risks

Though calendula is generally thought of as safe, there are a few risks to take note of:

  • Calendula shouldn’t be used with pregnant dogs as it can cause contractions
  • Possible allergic reactions to calendula, both topically or if ingested

Additional Benefits

Product Recommendation

Hypericum, aka St. Johns Wort

What it Does

St. John's Wort essential oil hypericum perforatum telia oils olive oil

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Hypericum, also called St. John’s Wort, helps to promote healing while at the same time managing both pain and inflammation.

How it Works

Hypericum works as an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and has antioxidant properties[4]

How to Use Hypericum

Using this oil in conjunction with Calendula can both help provide relief while at the same time initiate healing of the skin.

It should be used with either coconut oil or aloe vera to add additional pain relief and to aid in healing the infected skin.

Risks

There are a few risks when using hypericum on dogs.

The dangers involved are photosensitivity (resulting in more considerable skin irritation), GI upset, sedation, and dizziness[5].

Additional Benefits

  • Aids in healing wounds near nerve-rich areas like toes, nails, face, mouth, and tail[6]
  • Aids in healing puncture or laceration wounds
  • Treats anxiety and depression

Product Recommendation

Geranium

What it Does

Does rose geranium soothe dog hot spots pure therapeutic grade essential oil

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Geranium is often used to clear up skin ailments such as acne and eczema and is also used to keep wounds from becoming infected[7]

How it Works

Geranium has both antibacterial and antiseptic properties, making it an excellent option to help heal skin infections and wounds. 

How to Use Geranium

Geranium oil would be best used with another oil, such as calendula, that has anti-inflammatory properties.

Also, it would be good to use it with aloe vera since that can also help with pain relief.

Risks

Geranium oil is not to be ingested as it can be toxic.

External use of geranium oil should only be used in areas that cannot be licked by your dog.

Additional Benefits

  • Treats anxiety and depression
  • Ear infections

Product Recommendation

German Chamomile & Roman Chamomile

What it Does

German chamomile essential oil benefits for dogs with hotspots

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Both German and Roman chamomile help to reduce pain and inflammation common to hotspots.

How it Works

Both chamomiles have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

However, German chamomile7 is one of the most potent analgesic oils available, so it would be the better option if possible.

How to Use Chamomile

Either of the chamomile oils should be used in conjunction with another essential oil.

Ideal oils to mix chamomile with are calendula and/or geranium oil, to help with additional symptoms associated with hotspots.

As always, a carrier oil should be used to dilute the essential oils, and either aloe vera or coconut oil would work well.

Risks

Roman chamomile relieve pain analgesic properties stop dog licking itself

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Chamomile is commonly considered safe to use with dogs both internally and externally[8].

However, some dogs may have an allergic reaction to chamomile, but that is relatively rare.

Additional Benefits

Product Recommendation

Helichrysum

What it Does

Helichrysum gymnocephalum good to relieve doggy allergy hot spot pain irritation

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Helichrysum is best known for its regenerative qualities[9], making it ideal for treating skin infections such as hotspots.

How it Works

Helichrysum has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties.

How to Use Helichrysum

Because helichrysum oil can manage pain, inflammation, and heal, this oil can be used with just a carrier oil to provide relief from hotspots.

Risks

Helichrysum is as relatively safe oil to be used externally.

There is always the rare chance of an allergic reaction or skin sensitivity but helichrysom has usually been found safe for use with most pets.

Additional Benefits

  • Other skin infections
  • Fights ear infections

Product Recommendation

Sweet Marjoram

What it Does

Sweet Marjoram Origanum majorana for pain anxiety hotspot irritation inflammation relief

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Sweet marjoram is often used for wound care and skin irritations.

How it Works

Sweet marjoram has analgesic and antiseptic properties.

How to Use Sweet Marjoram

Sweet marjoram could be mixed with German chamomile to create an oil that also includes an anti-inflammatory element.

Also, using coconut oil as the carrier oil would be best. Coconut oil would add antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Risks:

Sweet marjoram should only be used topically.

Ingestion can cause severe GI upset, so be sure your dog can not reach the infected area to lick this oil.

Additional Benefits

Product Recommendation

Final Thoughts

After trying essential oils on Calvin’s hotspots, I will say they are not as effective as his prescription medication.

Though the oils helped to reduce inflammation and symptoms, it didn’t clear up as quickly as it has in the past.

However, I will say that I am happy that I tried essential oils for Calvin’s hotspots for two main reasons:

First, if I don’t have prescription medication, essential oils help to improve the hotspots until I can get Calvin’s prescription medication.

Second, once the hotspots are under control, the addition of essential oils helps to reduce itchiness and better soothe his irritated skin. 

References

  1. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/treating-and-preventing-hot-spots-on-dogs/
  2. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/calendula
  3. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/treat-moist-pyotraumatic-dermatitis-without-vet
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24214835
  5. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/hypericum/
  6. https://franklintnvet.com/st-johns-wort-treats-pet-depression-and-anxiety
  7. Peiris, Shehan. Essential Oils For Your Pet. Shehan Peiris, 2015.
  8. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/chamomile
  9. Essential Oils Natural Remedies, Althea Press, 2015.

 

About the author

Jessica Mabie

Jessica and her husband share their lives with four amazing high energy Brittanys and one very awesome cat. You’ll rarely see her without her 4 pack, they go everywhere with her, including most vacations. So, if you see her out and about with her family don’t hesitate to say “Hi!”, (You’ll know it’s her since few are so daring as to have 4 Britts).