Ringworm, contrary to popular belief, is a fungus similar to athlete's foot. It produces infective seeds known as spores, which are extremely resilient and difficult to remove from the environment. Ringworm can infect all animals' skin, including dogs. Today, our Los Angeles veterinarians talk about ringworm in dogs and what it looks like.
What does ringworm look like in dogs?
Ringworm can manifest itself in dogs in a variety of ways, most commonly as patches of hair loss with a crusty coating or (rarely) as asymptomatic. Ringworm patches in some dogs look like a grey, scaly patch, while others look like a scarlet lesion. Dogs with long hair, or those who are young or elderly, are more likely to be impacted.
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
How does ringworm get diagnosed?
If you suspect your dog has ringworm, take them to the vet right away because they will need treatment to be cured. Ringworm is diagnosed by veterinarians using a variety of methods. An ultraviolet lamp may be used by your veterinarian to examine your dog's fur and skin. This is the most reliable test, but it takes 10 days to produce results.
What are the treatment options for ringworm?
Ringworm can be easily treated with oral medications as well as a variety of lotions, sprays, and shampoos. If your dog or other pet has a history of skin problems, take them to the vet as soon as you notice any symptoms. Your veterinarian may advise treating all of your dogs at the same time, depending on the severity of the infection. Ringworm can cause hair loss, rashes, and other symptoms that appear to be caused by another illness to the untrained eye. There are several effective treatments available if you suspect your dog has ringworm.
Depending on the severity of your dog's ringworm condition, your veterinarian will help you choose the best treatment for them. The following are the most common ringworm treatments:
- 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 transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal or contact with a contaminated substance. Ringworm can linger on surfaces or become trapped in the fibers of carpets, curtains, and linens if they are not cleaned.
Even if there are no obvious symptoms, a pet could be a ringworm carrier. Ringworm spores are tenacious and can survive for a long time in the environment, so confine your affected dog to a single room while you treat them. If you treat your dog but do not remove the virus from your home, he may become ill again.
Soft furniture and carpets should be thoroughly vacuumed and steam cleaned regularly to remove the spores. To clean anything else, disinfectants should be used. Consult your veterinarian about the most effective disinfectants.
How long should I quarantine a dog with ringworm?
Ringworm can last from 6 weeks to 18 months, but it is not as dangerous as other illnesses or diseases. It will not kill your dog or cause irreversible damage. While the therapy is ongoing, 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.
Ideally, you should keep your dog quarantined for six weeks while you fight ringworm. Although this may appear difficult, it should be infinitely easier and far less expensive than constantly fighting 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.