While the name ringworm implies that it is caused by a worm or parasite, it is actually a type of fungal infection. In humans, we know this infection as Athlete's Foot. Today, our Grass Valley vets talk about what ringworm looks like on a dog and how it can be treated and prevented.
What does ringworm look like on a dog?
Ringworm can show in a variety of ways in dogs, most commonly as patches of hair loss with a crusty coating, or (rarely) as asymptomatic. Ringworm patches in some dogs resemble a grey, scaly patch, while in others they resemble a scarlet lesion. Dogs who are young, elderly, or have long hair are more likely to be impacted.
If you notice any of the following symptoms you should schedule a veterinary visit right away:
- 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
How is ringworm on dogs diagnosed?
If you are concerned that your dog may possibly be experiencing ringworm then you will need to schedule a veterinary visit right away as the only way to cure your dog of this infection is through treatment. Vets utilize a few different procedures to diagnose ringworm. Your veterinarian may examine your dog's fur and skin using an ultraviolet lamp. This is the most trustworthy test, however, it takes 10 days to provide findings.
How is ringworm on dogs treated?
Ringworm may be readily treated with oral drugs as well as several lotions, sprays, and shampoos. If your dog or other pets have a history of skin issues, take them to the veterinarian as soon as you discover any symptoms. Depending on the severity of the infection, your veterinarian may advise treating all of your dogs at the same time. Some of the most common symptoms of ringworm such as hair loss can be easily mistaken for other conditions so you should be vigilant while keeping note of the symptoms your dog is experiencing. If you suspect your dog has ringworm, there are several effective treatments available.
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)
Is it possible to stop the spread of ringworm?
In order for ringworm to spread, there must be direct contact with an infected animal or surface. All surfaces must be cleaned properly otherwise ringworm will continue to survive, this includes the fibers of the carpet, bedding and curtains.
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, so confine your affected dog to a single room while you treat them. If you heal your dog but do not eliminate the virus from your home, your dog may become sick again.
You should regularly vacuum and steam clean any soft surfaces such as chairs and couches in order to remove spores. Disinfectants should be used to clean any other things. Consult your veterinarian about which disinfectants are effective.
Should I quarantine my dog while they are being treated for ringworm?
Ringworm can endure anywhere from 6 weeks to 18 months, and while it is not as concerning as other potential infections it should still be managed seriously even though it poses to risk of death. In order to prevent the spread you should keep your dog separated from other animals and family members for the duration of their treatment.
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.