Dog Hot Spot vs Ringworm

Dogs are prone to a variety of skin conditions that can cause discomfort and irritation. Two common conditions that are often confused with each other are hot spots and ringworm. It’s important for dog owners to be able to differentiate between these two conditions in order to provide proper care and treatment for their furry friends.

Dog Hotspot vs Ringworm

Hot spot vs ringworm in dogs

Location: Ringworm is a fungal infection that can occur anywhere on the body, but is most commonly found on the head, paws, and tail. Hot spots, on the other hand, are usually found on the head, neck, and legs.

Appearance: Ringworm appears as a circular, red rash with raised edges. Hot spots, also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis, appear as red, moist, and inflamed patches of skin.

Cause: Ringworm is caused by a fungal infection, while hot spots are caused by an underlying problem such as allergies, parasites, or poor grooming.

Treatment: Ringworm is typically treated with antifungal medication, while hot spots are treated with antibiotics and skin care products to reduce inflammation.

In summary, hot spots are a type of bacterial skin infection that can be painful and itchy for dogs, while ringworm is a fungal infection that affects the skin, hair, and nails. Both conditions can be treated with medications, but it is important to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Hot spots on dogs

Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, are a common skin issue in dogs. They are red, moist, and inflamed areas of skin that can appear suddenly and spread rapidly.

Hot spots are often caused by bacterial infections, allergies, or injuries to the skin. They can also be a result of underlying health problems such as hormonal imbalances or parasites.

Hot spots can be painful and itchy for dogs, and they may scratch or lick the affected area excessively.

Treatment for hot spots typically involves cleaning and disinfecting the area, removing any foreign objects or debris, and using medicated shampoos or creams to control the infection and reduce inflammation.

Ringworm on dogs

Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects the skin, hair, and nails. It is caused by several different types of fungi, including Trichophyton and Microsporum.

Ringworm is highly contagious and can be transmitted from animals to humans, so it is important to take precautions to prevent its spread.

Ringworm can affect dogs of any age, breed, or sex, but it is more common in puppies and older dogs with compromised immune systems.

Ringworm typically appears as circular patches of hair loss with raised, red edges. The affected skin may also be scaly, crusty, or itchy.

Treatment for ringworm involves using antifungal medications, such as griseofulvin or terbinafine, to kill the fungus and prevent its spread. The infected area should also be kept clean and dry to help prevent reinfection.

Pictures of hot spots on dogs

Pictures of ringworm on dogs

What can be mistaken for ringworm or hot spot in dogs?

One of the most common issues that can occur is a skin condition that is often mistaken for ringworm or a hot spot. However, it’s crucial to understand the differences between the two to treat your dog effectively.

Here is a list of skin conditions that can be mistaken for ringworm or hot spot in dogs:

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

This is one of the most common skin issues that dogs face. The dog’s immune system overreacts to flea bites, leading to red, itchy, and sore skin. It can appear similar to ringworm or hot spot, but with a closer look, you’ll notice the small red bumps with scabs.


Mange is a skin disease caused by mites. It can make the skin appear red, itchy, and scaly. It is a more severe condition than ringworm or hot spot, and the dog may lose hair.

Allergic Dermatitis

Dogs can have an allergic reaction to various things, such as pollen, grass, or dust. It can result in itchy, red, and inflamed skin, which can be mistaken for ringworm or hot spot.

Sebaceous Adenitis

This is a rare skin condition that affects the sebaceous glands of the dog. The dog’s skin becomes dry, scaly, and flaky. It can be mistaken for ringworm or hot spot but is more severe and requires proper medical attention.


This bacterial skin infection can cause red spots, pustules, and blisters on the dog’s skin. It is most common in puppies, and the symptoms can be similar to those of ringworm or hot spot.

How can I treat my dog’s ringworm at home?

Here are some effective ways to get rid of ringworm in dogs without breaking the bank:

Keep the infected area clean and dry

Ringworm thrives in warm, moist environments, so it’s important to keep the affected area as dry as possible. Use a gentle, pet-safe shampoo to wash your dog’s skin and fur, and pat it dry with a clean towel. Don’t let your dog lick or scratch the area, as this can spread the infection to other parts of their body or to other pets in the household.

Apply an antifungal cream or ointment

There are many over-the-counter antifungal creams and ointments that can be used to treat ringworm in dogs. Look for products that contain ingredients like miconazole, clotrimazole, or terbinafine. Apply the cream or ointment to the affected area according to the instructions on the package. Be sure to wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after applying the product to avoid getting infected yourself.

Use a natural remedy

If you prefer to use natural remedies, there are a few options that can be effective in treating ringworm in dogs. Tea tree oil has antifungal properties and can be applied topically to the affected area. Aloe vera gel can soothe the skin and reduce inflammation, which can help the healing process. Garlic is also known for its antifungal properties, but it should be used with caution as it can be toxic to dogs in large quantities.

Boost your dog’s immune system

A healthy immune system can help your dog fight off ringworm and other infections. Make sure your dog is getting a balanced diet with plenty of protein and essential vitamins and minerals. You can also supplement their diet with immune-boosting ingredients like probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E.

Keep your home and other pets clean

Ringworm is highly contagious and can easily spread to other pets in the household. Make sure to clean your home thoroughly, including bedding, toys, and any surfaces your dog comes into contact with. If you have multiple pets, keep them separated until the infection has cleared up. You may also want to consider treating all of your pets to prevent the spread of the infection.

How can I treat my dog’s hot spot at home?

Here are some tips to help you manage your dog’s hot spots.

Clean the affected area

The first step in treating hot spots is to clean the affected area. Gently wash the area with mild soap and water, or you can use an antiseptic solution. Avoid using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide as these can cause further irritation. Dry the area thoroughly with a clean towel.

Trim the hair around the hot spot

After cleaning the area, trim the hair around the hot spot. This will prevent further matting and allow the area to breathe, promoting faster healing. Use scissors or clippers to trim the hair, but be careful not to cut the skin.

Apply a topical treatment

Several natural remedies can help soothe hot spots. Tea tree oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve the itch and inflammation. You can also use coconut oil, aloe vera, and witch hazel to promote healing. Apply the chosen remedy to the affected area, ensuring that it doesn’t come in contact with your dog’s eyes, nose, or mouth.

Prevent your dog from licking the area

Dogs tend to lick and chew at hot spots, making the condition worse. A cone collar or an Elizabethan collar can help prevent your dog from accessing the area. You can also apply a bitter spray to the area to deter your dog from licking it.

Monitor the hot spot

Regularly check the hot spot to ensure that it’s healing. If you notice any signs of infection, such as pus, foul odor, or fever, seek veterinary care immediately. In severe cases, your dog may require antibiotics or steroids to manage the condition.

Does Benadryl help with hotspots on dogs?

Some pet owners and veterinarians also use Benadryl to help relieve the symptoms of hot spots, as it can help to reduce inflammation and itching. However, Benadryl is not a cure for hot spots and should not be used as a substitute for proper veterinary care.

If your veterinarian recommends using Benadryl to help relieve the symptoms of your dog’s hot spot, you can give it to your dog orally according to the dosage instructions on the package. The usual dose of Benadryl for dogs is 1 mg per pound of body weight, given every 8-12 hours.

FAQs about ringworm vs hot spots in dogs

To help you differentiate between the two, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions.

What is Ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects the skin, hair, and nails of both humans and animals. It’s highly contagious and can be passed from one animal to another, and from animals to humans. Ringworm lesions typically appear as circular patches that are scaly, red, and itchy. In dogs, ringworm usually affects the head, ears, paws, and tail.

What is a Hot Spot?

A hot spot, also known as acute moist dermatitis, is a bacterial skin infection that’s caused by excessive licking, scratching, or biting. It usually occurs on the neck, head, and hips of dogs. The affected area looks red, swollen, and oozes pus. Hot spots are often painful and itchy, which leads to more licking, scratching, and biting, making the condition worse.

How can you tell the difference between Ringworm and a Hot Spot?

Ringworm lesions are circular and scaly, while hot spots are irregularly shaped and oozing. Ringworm is usually accompanied by hair loss, while hot spots are not. Ringworm is itchy, but not as painful as hot spots, which can cause severe discomfort.

How are Ringworm and Hot Spots treated?

Ringworm is treated with antifungal medications, both topical and oral. The infected area should be kept clean and dry to prevent the spread of the infection. In some cases, the hair around the lesion may need to be shaved to allow better penetration of the medication.

Hot spots are treated with antibiotics, both oral and topical. The affected area should be cleaned with an antiseptic solution, and the hair around the lesion should be trimmed to prevent further irritation. In some cases, your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and inflammation.

Can Ringworm and Hot Spots be prevented?

Ringworm can be prevented by keeping your dog away from infected animals and by keeping their environment clean and dry. Regular grooming and proper nutrition can also help prevent fungal infections.

Hot spots can be prevented by keeping your dog’s skin clean and dry, and by addressing any underlying skin conditions. Regular grooming and flea control can also help prevent bacterial skin infections.

Are Ringworm and Hot Spots Dangerous?

Ringworm and hot spots are not usually life-threatening conditions. However, if left untreated, they can lead to further complications. Ringworm can spread to other animals and humans, causing a more severe infection. Hot spots can worsen, leading to deeper skin infections, which can be painful and require surgery.

Can I Catch Ringworm or Hot Spots from my Dog?

Ringworm is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted from animals to humans. If you have a weakened immune system or are in close contact with an infected animal, you may contract ringworm. Hot spots are caused by bacteria that are specific to dogs and cannot be transmitted to humans.

How Long Does It Take to Treat Ringworm or Hot Spots?

The duration of treatment for ringworm or hot spots depends on the severity of the infection. Mild cases may clear up in a few weeks with appropriate treatment. However, severe cases may take several months to heal completely. It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and complete the full course of treatment, even if the symptoms appear to have resolved.

How Can I Help My Dog Feel Better?

If your dog is suffering from ringworm or hot spots, there are several things you can do to make them feel more comfortable. Keep the infected area clean and dry, and avoid scratching or rubbing it. Provide your dog with a comfortable bed and avoid any activities that may cause further irritation. You can also consult your veterinarian for recommendations on over-the-counter or prescription medications that can alleviate your dog’s symptoms.

When Should I See a Veterinarian?

If you suspect your dog has ringworm or hot spots, it’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Your veterinarian can diagnose the condition and recommend the appropriate treatment. Additionally, if your dog’s symptoms worsen or do not improve with treatment, you should schedule a follow-up appointment with your veterinarian. Remember, prompt treatment can help prevent further complications and ensure your dog makes a full recovery.

Can I Prevent Ringworm and Hot Spots from Reoccurring?

While it’s not always possible to prevent ringworm or hot spots from recurring, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk. Regular grooming and flea control can help prevent bacterial infections that can lead to hot spots. Keeping your dog away from infected animals and maintaining a clean environment can also help prevent ringworm. It’s important to monitor your dog’s skin and behavior, and seek veterinary care as soon as you notice any signs of infection.

Can I Use Home Remedies to Treat Ringworm or Hot Spots?

While there are many home remedies available for treating ringworm or hot spots, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before trying any new treatments. Some home remedies may be ineffective or even harmful to your dog’s health. Additionally, home remedies may not address the underlying cause of the infection and can lead to more serious complications. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on the most appropriate treatment options for your dog’s specific condition.

Can Diet Affect My Dog’s Skin Health?

Yes, diet can play a significant role in your dog’s skin health. Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet that’s rich in essential nutrients can help support healthy skin and a shiny coat. Conversely, feeding your dog a poor-quality diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies and skin problems. Consult with your veterinarian for recommendations on the most appropriate diet for your dog’s specific needs.

Are There Any Long-Term Effects of Ringworm or Hot Spots?

If ringworm or hot spots are properly treated, there are typically no long-term effects. However, if left untreated, these conditions can lead to further complications, including deep skin infections, hair loss, and scarring. Additionally, if your dog is repeatedly infected with ringworm or hot spots, it can indicate an underlying health issue that requires veterinary care.

Can I Still Take My Dog Outside if They Have Ringworm or Hot Spots?

It’s generally safe to take your dog outside if they have ringworm or hot spots, as long as you take appropriate precautions to prevent the infection from spreading. Keep your dog away from other animals, and avoid areas where other dogs may have been. It’s also important to keep the infected area covered, to prevent contact with other dogs or humans. If you’re uncertain about the safety of taking your dog outside, consult with your veterinarian for guidance.


Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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