Treating Dog Hot Spots with Apple Cider Vinegar

Dog hot spots, also known as moist dermatitis, are not a serious condition but can cause major discomfort. The symptoms of hot spots may include licking, scratching, red oozing skin and hair loss. The treatment of hot spots in dogs can be made up of conventional treatment, but there are also a few at-home remedies that can work to eliminate moist dermatitis. Apple cider vinegar is a solution that can be used for hot spots, as it contains acetic acid that is effective in removing hot spots caused by fleas or allergies.

Dog Hot Spots

Dog hot spots occur due to different health conditions including allergies, flea bites, tangled fur or increased humidity on the skin. The dog will have itchy skin, red spots, bumps, possibly films of pus or hair loss. This condition requires immediate attention, as otherwise there may be secondary infections and other complications.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar may be used for hot spots, provided the condition is in its incipient phases and there are no secondary infections or open wounds. The areas affected by hot spots should be cleaned with an antibacterial soap. Clip the hair in these areas to keep them ventilated and to facilitate the healing.

Mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar with lukewarm water. Add vitamin C, which can reduce swelling. Wash the dog's skin with this solution once per day. The acetic acid from the apple cider vinegar will regularize the pH of the dog's skin and eliminate the bacteria. Avoid the eyes, as the vinegar can cause irritation. After applying the vinegar solution, use an oatmeal rinse and then pat the dog's skin dry. If needed, you may apply additional solution on the spots affected by dermatitis. Use a syringe or a dropper.


The apple cider vinegar shouldn't be used if the dog has open wounds (caused by fervent scratching). The vinegar can irritate the wounds and be extremely painful when applied. The acetic acid will cause a burning sensation. Don't use pure vinegar; this will have to be diluted, otherwise it may cause severe skin irritations.

Alternative Hot Spot Treatments

  • The hot spots may be treated with different ointments containing steroids, antibiotics or creams containing natural compounds (i.e., chamomile or burdock root).
  • Hydrocortisone powders and sprays are also available for hot spot treatment.
  • If the hot spots are caused by allergies, the dog should receive Benadryl or other antihistamines.
  • If the dog keeps scratching and biting the hot spots, you should get an Elizabethan collar for a few days.
  • Black or green tea bags can be applied on the hot spots. Dip the tea bags in hot water, allow the bags to cool down and apply them on the hot spots.
  • A supplementation of vitamin E and other immune system boosters can be recommended, to prevent future outbreaks of hot spots.

Dog hot spots should be treated as soon as they're detected, to prevent them from spreading to other areas of the body.