Contrary to its name ringworm is caused by a fungus, not a worm, that generates infective spores. Ringworm may infect the skin of all animals, including dogs. Here, our Rainbow City vets discuss what ringworm looks like on a dog and how it can be treated.
What does ringworm look like in dogs?
Ringworm can present in a variety of ways in dogs, but most commonly it shows up as patches of hair loss with a crusty coating. Ringworm patches in some dogs are gray and scaly while in others they resemble a scarlet lesion. Dogs who are young, elderly, or have long hair are more likely to be impacted. In some cases, a dog can have and spread ringworm without having any symptoms.
Bring your dog to the vet if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Dry, brittle hair
- Inflamed, red skin rash
- Circular or patchy areas of hair loss
- Scales that look like dandruff
- Scabs or lesions on the skin
- Darkened skin
- Reddened skin
- Inflamed folds of the skin around the claws or nails
- Excessive itching
How does ringworm get diagnosed?
If you suspect your dog has ringworm, take them to the clinic immediately for a professional diagnosis. Vets utilize a few different procedures to diagnose ringworm. Your veterinarian may examine your dog's fur and skin using an ultraviolet lamp. They may also do a fungal culture of a sample of hair or skin cells. A positive culture can sometimes be confirmed within a couple of days, but in some cases, the fungal spores may be slow to grow and the results could take up to four weeks.
What are the treatment options for ringworm?
Ringworm may be readily treated with oral drugs as well as several lotions, sprays, and shampoos. If you have other pets it is probable that the ringworm has spread to them—your veterinarian may advise treating all of your dogs at the same time.
Depending on the severity of your dog's ringworm condition, your veterinarian will assist you in selecting the appropriate remedy for them. The following are the most common treatments for ringworm:
- Topical medication
- Anti-fungal oral medication
- Environmental decontamination (such as deep cleaning a carpet to keep the infection from spreading)
How can I keep ringworm from spreading?
Ringworm is spread by direct contact with an infected animal or through a contaminated substance. If surfaces are not cleaned, ringworm can linger on them or become trapped in the fibers of carpets, curtains, and linens.
A pet may be a ringworm carrier even if there are no obvious signs. Ringworm spores are tenacious and may survive in the environment for a long time. It is best to confine affected pets to one room while you deep clean the rest of the house. If you heal your dog but do not eliminate the virus from your home, your dog may become sick again.
To eliminate the spores, soft furniture and carpets should be vacuumed thoroughly and regularly, or steam cleaned. Disinfectants should be used to clean any other surfaces. Consult your veterinarian about which disinfectants are effective.
How long should I quarantine a dog with ringworm?
Ringworm can endure anywhere from 6 weeks to 18 months, although it is not as deadly as other illnesses or diseases. It will not kill your dog and will not cause irreparable damage. The best thing you can do is confine your dog to a separate room in your house and limit contact with your other pets or family members while the therapy is ongoing.
Ideally, you should try and keep your dog quarantined for about six weeks while you battle ringworm. Although this might sound difficult, it should be infinitely easier, and much less expensive, than having to constantly battle ringworm.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.