Despite its name, ringworm is actually a fungus that can lead to serious complications if left untreated. Our Clinton Township vets share the common signs of this fungal infection and how ringworm in dogs can be treated.
Dog Ringworm: What does it look like?
Surprisingly, ringworm is not in the same category as hookworm, roundworm, or tapeworm. Not actually a worm at all, this fungus leaves circular or semi-circular bald spots and rashes on the skin.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that gets its name from the ring-like/worm-like shape seen on raised (due to swelling) and red skin rashes.
What Does Ringworm Look Like on a Dog?
Ringworm characteristically appears in a circular or ring-shaped pattern on the skin, usually causing the skin to turn red, lose hair, and swell up.
Ringworm in your dog may not present itself in such a noticeable manner, so you should keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
- Inflamed, red skin rash
- Scales that look like dandruff
- Itchiness (pruritus)
- Dry, brittle hair with hair follicles that break easily
- Circular or patchy areas of hair loss (alopecia)
- Darkened skin (hyperpigmentation)
- Reddened skin (erythema)
- Scabs or raised nodular lesions on the skin
- Inflamed folds of the skin around the claws, or bordering the nails
If you notice any of the above symptoms of dog ringworm you should contact your vet right away to schedule an exam.
How Does a Dog Get Ringworm?
Ringworm can be spread through direct contact with an infected animal or from an object that has been contaminated such as towels, food or water bowls, couches, or carpet. The fungus spores can survive for months, which means ringworm can be spread through the fur that your dog has already shed. The fungus can also remain on surfaces or get trapped in the fibers of carpets, drapes, linens, etc. in your home if they’re not cleaned.
Dogs often get this fungal infection from playing outdoors as some forms of the fungus can live freely in the soil. Your dog's immune system may be able to fight the fungus off, or it may turn into a localized or more widespread skin infection, depending on many factors including your pet’s overall health, the species of fungus, part of the body affected, the dog’s age, etc.
Sometimes a pet can be a ringworm carrier without showing any visible symptoms. If your dog has been diagnosed with ringworm, it is a good idea to have your other pets checked by a veterinarian to be safe. You should also alert any fellow dog owners and dog-walking buddies that your dog has been infected and is being treated and that they should watch for signs of ringworm in their pets. You should also keep your dog away from any other pets in your home.
This leads to another question - how long to quarantine a dog with ringworm? You should be sure to keep your dog isolated until your vet clears your dog, even after the signs seemingly disappear.
How is Ringworm Treated?
There are a number of possible treatment options for dog ringworm. Your vet will help you choose the solution best suited for your dog depending on the severity of their ringworm problem.
While the treatment itself is pretty simple, it can take longer if your dog has been left untreated for an extended period of time.
Your vet will likely prescribe your pup a topical medication to apply to the skin or an anti-fungal medication that can be taken orally.
It may also be recommended that you get an environmental decontamination of your house to eliminate any contaminated elements.
Additionally, your vet may recommend shaving the fur around the more infected areas of your dog.
Do not assume your dog is cured because they stop showing symptoms. Continue with the treatment until your dog has been deemed cured by your vet
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.