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Hot spots - nutritional solutions

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Hot spots - nutritional solutions

Hot spots can occur anywhere on the pets’ body and involve inflammation of the skin with associated itching, scaling and redness which can become very painful for the pet. Hot spots can develop due to an untreated allergy causing itchy skin which the pet has been licking or chewing to resolve the itch. As the itch increases so too does the licking in an escalating cycle of discomfort and pain. As the skin becomes raw and inflamed, bacteria such as Staphylococcus Aureus is able to take hold, further increasing the pets’ discomfort. Left untreated the infection is likely to progress into moist, weeping sores which can be rather foul smelling.

Any bacterial infection will require antibiotics to treat however, if the initial cause is not also addressed the pet is at risk of recurring infections making a thorough review of the pets history and examination essential for a long term positive outcome. The triggers outlined for itchy skin should be considered as well as identifying any skin wounds as any scratch, bite or sting exposes the pet to invading bacteria which lives harmlessly on the skin surface until the skin is broken [1]. Any nutritional deficiencies are also of concern as they negatively impact the immune system affecting the pet’s ability to ward off infection.

Pets suffering from an omega 3 fatty acid deficiency are at particular risk of developing hot spots as the brittle hair breaks away easily, revealing dry flaky skin which provides little protection against invading bacteria. Most modern commercial diets are deficient in omega 3 fatty acids therefore transitioning to a raw, species appropriate diet is highly recommended [2]. Supplementing with an omega 3 supplement such as flaxseed or fish oil to address the deficiency is recommended which may take up to 2-3 weeks to rectify, while supplementing with oils and appropriate Vitamin E supplement should also be provided to protect the pet against the oil becoming rancid within their body. It may also be useful to provide the pet with a probiotic such as natural Greek yoghurt daily for 2 weeks to support gut health following any course of antibiotics [3].

There are a few additional considerations when formulating a raw diet for a pet suffering from hotspots. As with any allergy suffering pet the diet should be based on a meat source least likely to trigger an allergic response, provided the pet is not sensitive to fish products, salmon or mackerel should form a reasonable component of the diet as an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. To provide additional support to the immune system supplementing with vitamin C can also be useful [3]. Among the items to exclude from the diet are all fruits and any items which naturally produce heat within the body such as capsicums.


[1] Hill, F. W. 1991. Skin Disorders. In D. R. Lane, Jones's Animal Nursing, 5th ed. Oxford, England: Pergamon Press. [2] Billinghurst, I. 1993. Give Your Dog a Bone. Bathurst, New South Wales: Warrigal Publishing. [3] Syme, B. 2011. Scientific Guide to Natural Nutrition. Southbank, Australia: Vets All Natural Pty Ltd.

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