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Ringworm in dogs is a very common concern among dog owners.
This is a very common infection that affects many pets – but especially those of the canine variety – worldwide.
Ringworm can be extremely uncomfortable for dogs and needs to be treated immediately to prevent further harm, and since the infection is not always easy to detect, there are many misconceptions about the disease.
It is important to know exactly what you are dealing with so you can ensure that your furry friend gets the right treatment and care.
Here we have summarized all the key information to help you understand ringworm in dogs and what steps to take for treatment.
What is Ringworm?
First things first, what is ringworm?
Ringworm is the circular, raised, red ring appearance usually seen in human ringworm infections.
Despite the name, ringworm is not a worm – or even caused by a worm. It’s a fungal infection that grows on skin and hair.
The types of fungi that generate ringworm are called dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are fungi that require keratin for growth; they spread through direct contact from other people, animals, and soil. They can also spread indirectly from fomites.
Generally, the fungus grows and lives in the outer layer of skin, hair follicles, and occasionally in the nails. In most cases, the infection only affects a few areas of the dog’s body.
Although many may assume that Ringworm is harmless, the infection is highly contagious to humans – especially to children or anyone with a weakened immune system.
Therefore, if you suspect your dog has ringworm, it’s important to seek veterinary treatment immediately.
Here’s a good video on determining if your dog has it:
How Do Dogs Get Ringworm?
Ringworm in dogs can be caught from a variety of sources ranging from the soil, other people, and also from other animals. The most common cause of Ringworm is microsporum gypseum: this is a soil organism that can be picked up from spending time outdoors or in the garden.
Puppies less than a year old are most prone to infection, but malnourished and immune-compromised senior dogs are also at a greater risk than healthy animals.
As transmission of the ringworm fungus can occur through contact with infected animals and bedding, dishes and other materials in the environment (where infected hair or scales may collect), ringworm can quickly spread in kennels, shelters, and other places where there are several dogs in a close environment.
Ringworm is not a life-threatening disease, but it is very contagious and does require the medical involvement of a veterinarian.
By knowing the symptoms of ringworm in dogs, you can prevent the disease spreading to humans and other pets.
In dogs, ringworm usually appears as circular areas of hair loss throughout the body. These abrasions may start to heal in the center as they enlarge, creating a patchy appearance, later becoming inflamed or scabbed.
Ringworm usually does not itch. The affected hair follicles are brittle and break easily, which helps spread the disease throughout your home. In some cases, the fungus infects the claws, making them brittle and rough.
Hair loss changes in coat appearance, or inflamed skin could be a sign of another condition, which makes diagnosis of Ringworm very difficult.
Skin problems are associated with many serious underlying conditions in dogs, like Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, a nutrient imbalance, or could simply be symptoms of other skin conditions like allergies, a different parasite, or an infection.
Therefore, you will always need a second opinion from a medical professional before seeking treatment for you dog.
How Can You Avoid Ringworm?
As the fungi can live on stray hair follicles and skin cells, it makes the infection easily transmitted across your home.
If you believe that your dog has ringworm, it is best to avoid the following:
Skin-to-Skin Contact with an Infected Person or Animal
It is always difficult to avoid direct contact with your dog, so always make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly after any contact.
Contact with Infected Household Items, Such as a Brush, Pet Clothing, and Furniture
If you have more than one dog, ensure that the infected items are kept away from other pets that aren’t infected.
This can stop the infection from spreading between animals.
It may be useful to use an animal friendly detergent to sterilize any items before allowing your other animals to use them.
Ringworm Treatment for Dogs
There are many ways in which ringworm can be treated and, as we have mentioned previously, the best treatment for dogs will be seeking advice from a vet.
Your vet will diagnose your dog with ringworm by performing a diagnostic test as well as a physical exam.
They will probably take a sample of hair or skin cells for a fungal culture or examine infected hairs under a special ultraviolet light called a Wood’s lamp.
Once ringworm is diagnosed, your vet will discuss a treatment plan for your dog. This plan depends on the severity of the case, the number of pets in the household, and whether or not there are children or vulnerable adults in the home.
Treating ringworm in dogs usually consists of three steps:
Topical therapy can be a cream or ointment to help treat and control the infection.
This treatment can also include ringworm shampoo for dogs. Your vet might also suggest clipping long-haired dogs or shaving the hair from affected areas.
Topical therapy can take several months to fully remove the infection, but does help prevent environmental contamination.
Best Ringworm Shampoo for Dogs
- Eliminates ringworm, yeast, bacteria, fungus and pyoderma
- Gentle on the skin
- Fully deodorizes
- Made in the USA
- Soothing relief for fungal infections, including ringworm
- Eliminates scaling of the skin
- Locks in moisture thanks to oatmeal ingredient
- No dyes or fragrances
- Safe for dogs, cats, puppies and kittens
- Relieves fungal infections like ringworm and hot spots
- Heals skin infections, cuts and abrasions
- Contains Chlorhexidine and Ketoconazole
- Soap and paraben free
- Made in the USA
- Treats skin infections and soothes dry, itchy skin
- Contains Ketoconazole and Chlorhexidine
- Prevents infection in surface wounds
- Suitable for an array of pets
- Freshly scented
- Deep cleansing and deodorizing
Anti-fungal oral medications help fight the infection. They need to be administered for a minimum of six weeks, but in some cases, can require months to take full effect.
This means keeping dogs in rooms which can be easily cleaned and disinfected – as this makes it easier to remove stray hairs from the house. You may be advised to mop with a disinfectant recommended by your veterinarian.
That’s everything you need to know about ringworm in dogs — any questions?