Contrary to its name, ringworm is a fungus that is comparable to athletes' foot. It generates infective spores that are difficult to eliminate from the environment. Ringworm can affect the skin of any animals, including dogs. Here, our Gilbert vets explain what ringworm looks like in dogs and what you can do about it.
What does ringworm look like in dogs?
Ringworm can display itself in a number of different ways in dogs. Most commonly, it shows itself as patches of hair loss and a crusty coating. Ringworm is very rarely asymptomatic. The patches caused by ringworm in a dog's coat resemble gray scaly patches of skin or, in some dogs, these patches look like red lesions. Dogs that are very young, old or who have compromised immune systems are much more likely to be impacted by this fungus.
Bring your dog to the vet if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Dry, brittle hair
- Inflamed, red skin rash
- Darkened skin
- Reddened skin
- Scales that look like dandruff
- Scabs or lesions on the skin
- Circular or patchy areas of hair loss
- Inflamed folds of the skin around the claws or nails
How does ringworm get diagnosed?
If your suspect that your dog has ringworms, bring them to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Ringworm does not go away on its own. Veterinarians use a number of different methods to test dogs for ringworm, including looking at their skin and fur with ultraviolet light. While this is a very accurate test, it may take up to 10 days for findings to become apparent.
What are the treatment options for ringworm?
Ringworm is treatable wir oral medications as well as topical lotions and medicinal shampoos. If your dog has a history of skin issues, bring them in to see your vet as soon as you discover anything closely resembling the symptoms of ringworm. Depending on the severity of your dog's infection, your vet may recommend treating all of your pet's at the same time if you live in a multi-pet household.
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.
Pets may carry ringworm, even if they aren't displaying any obvious symptoms of the fungal infection. Ringworm spores are hardy and can survive in the environment for long periods of time, so make sure to confine your dog to a single room as you treat them. If your dog recovers, but the fungus isn't eliminated from your home, your pooch may be reinfected and 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 things. Consult your veterinarian about which disinfectants are effective.
How long should I quarantine a dog with ringworm?
Ringworm can live for anywhere from 6 weeks to 18 months in the environment, although thankfully it isn't as severe as other serious infections. It won't kill threaten your dogs life if they are otherwise healthy and won't cause long-term damage to their body. The best thing you can do for your pooch is to keep them in their own room in your home and limit contact with other pets in your house while their treatment 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.