Puppy Hero

Blog archive

What Does Ringworm Look Like on a Dog?

Ringworm is a fungal disease of the skin. The name is misleading and no worm is involved. Humans can get ringworm as well as domestic pets such as cats and dogs. Ringworm in dogs appears as a ring-shaped rash with redness, swelling, and hair loss. If you suspect ringworm in your dog, consult your veterinarian immediately. In the meantime, here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about dog ringworm.


What causes dog ringworm?


A fungus called Microsporum canis causes 70% of the cases of ringworm in dogs. The rest are caused by fungi called Microsporum gypseum (20%) and Trichophyton mentagrophytes (10%).


How do I know if my dog has ringworm?


Ringworm in dogs can affect the skin, hair, and claws. You should suspect ringworm in your dog if you notice a ring-shaped reddened area. You might see these red lesions on the face, chest, forelegs, and ridge of the back. Other skin changes associated with ringworm in dogs include reddening, thickening, crusting, and scaling in the coat which resembles dandruff. There can also be circular patches of hair loss on the back and tail.


How did my dog get ringworm?


Ringworm is a fungal infection that spreads through direct contact with an infected animal or contaminated objects. The fungal spores can remain dormant (inactive) for up to 18 months on objects and surfaces such as grooming brushes, food bowls, bedding, carpet, and furniture. Contact with these objects does not always result in an infection, but these are possible sources.


If your dog has a confirmed ringworm infection, to avoid spreading it to other pets in your household, make sure your dogs don’t use the same brushes, towels, and other items.


Is ringworm painful or itchy to dogs?


Ringworm is not usually painful or itchy for dogs. However, the ring-like lesions can look unsightly and spread all over your dog’s body if ringworm is left untreated. In addition, the infected hair follicles tend to be brittle (break off easily). These broken off hairs may carry fungal spores and spread the ringworm infection throughout your home.


Can ringworm spread from dogs to humans?


Yes, ringworm can spread from dogs to humans. It is a contagious fungal infection. You can get ringworm from your dog or any infected animal, including pet dogs, cats, and rats.


People who have direct contact or close contact with infected animals are more likely to get ringworm. Children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of getting ringworm.


Ringworm can spread from one part of the body to another and from person to person through skin-to-skin contact. The infection is especially contagious in warm, damp environments.


If you suspect you might have picked up ringworm from your dog, talk to your healthcare provider for the appropriate treatment and to your dog’s vet. You will also need to decontaminate your home to clear the infection from the environment.


Can you touch a dog with ringworm?


You should wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when handling a dog with ringworm. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching your dog. Also, vacuum the area frequented by an infected pet. This will remove infected fur and skin flakes from the area.


Will dog ringworm go away by itself?


Dog ringworm sometimes goes away by itself, but it takes longer compared to treating the infection. This means your dog may be uncomfortable for longer. In addition, you risk the ringworm spreading all over your dog’s body, to other pets in your household, as well as to you and other members of your family, especially children and elderly people.


How long does ringworm last?


Most dogs respond well to treatment and show improvement within 1-2 weeks and cure within 4-8 weeks. However, sometimes, ringworm infection in dogs can take up to 18 months to clear completely. Your veterinarian will monitor your dog’s ringworm infection through a Wood’s lamp examination and/or fungal culture.


Is ringworm in dogs serious?


Ringworm in dogs is not fatal and does not cause permanent damage. However, it can cause unsightly ringworm skin rashes. Without treatment, ringworm can spread to your dog’s entire body and leave your dog feeling very uncomfortable. In addition, this highly contagious condition can spread throughout your home, including to other pets and humans in your family.


How do I treat ringworm in dogs?


Your veterinarian will recommend topical antifungal therapy (creams, ointments, and shampoos) such as miconazole (Micaved), terbinafine (Lamisil), and clotrimazole (Otibiotic). They may also prescribe oral medications to give to your dog by mouth. For successful treatment and cure, you should follow your veterinarian’s instructions, complete the full course of treatment, and remove all environmental contamination from your home.   


Can I put antifungal cream for humans on my dog for ringworm?


Never use medications meant for humans on your dog without consulting your veterinarian first.


How can I treat ringworm on my dog at home?


You can try using an over-the-counter antifungal shampoo for dogs. Read the instructions carefully and use it at the recommended frequency.


Note: It is best to get advice from your veterinarian if you suspect ringworm in your dog. They can make a proper diagnosis and rule out other conditions that can be similar in appearance.


How do you know ringworm is healing in a dog?


You will know ringworm is healing in your dog when you see a decrease in the size of the ring-shaped rashes, reduced discomfort, and return of the normal texture of your dog’s skin. Make sure you complete the recommended ringworm treatment for your dog even if you notice improvement. Stopping treatment too soon can cause the infection to come back and be harder to treat in the future.


How often should I bathe my dog with ringworm?


Your veterinarian will tell you how often to bathe your dog with ringworm. The usual recommendation is for twice weekly baths with fungicidal shampoo. Your veterinarian may also ask you to trim affected hair with scissors. This makes the ringworm lesions more visible and easier to treat. Remember to wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when handling your dog with ringworm. You may need to continue frequent bathing until the veterinarian detects no further ringworm and your dog’s skin heals.


What can be mistaken for ringworm in dogs?


Ringworm in dogs can be easily mistaken for other infectious conditions, skin allergies, and inflammatory conditions such as dermatitis. Your veterinarian can make a proper diagnosis and ensure your dog gets the appropriate treatment.


How to prevent ringworm in dogs?


The best way to prevent ringworm in dogs is to regularly clean their belongings such as brushes, blankets, and food bowls; regularly vacuum your home to remove dead skin cells and fur; and regularly disinfect areas in your home that are frequented by your pets.


Now that you know more about ringworm in dogs, you are better prepared to seek timely treatment. In the meantime, keep reading the Puppy Hero blog for more useful information, such as recognizing botflies in dogs. We’re here to answer your most pressing questions, such as why female dogs have a fishy smell and what you can do about it. We also give you tips and tricks on raising a healthy, loving, well-mannered dogs, for example, by disciplining a puppy early on.

08 April, 2024