In spite of its name, ringworm is actually a fungus - like athlete's foot - which generates spores that are difficult to eliminate in the environment. Ringworm can infect the skin of any animal, including dogs, cats and farm animals. Today, our Phenix City vets discuss ringworm in dogs and what it looks like.
Spotting Ringworm on Your Dog's Skin
What does ringworm look like in dogs? It can actually show in a variety of ways, most often it appears as patches of hair loss with a crusty coating, although in rare cases it can be asymptomatic. In some dogs, ringworm looks like a grey, scaly patch of skin, whereas in other dogs ringworm can cause a bright red sore patch.
Ringworm is most often seen in puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with compromised immune systems.
If you spot any of the following signs, contact your vet right away to book an examination for your pooch:
- 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
Diagnosing Ringworm in Dogs
If you suspect your dog has ringworm, take them to the clinic immediately since they will require treatment to be cured. 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.
Treatment for Dog Ringworm
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. Ringworm can cause hair loss, rashes, and other symptoms that, to the untrained eye, appear to be another illness. 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)
How to Prevent The Spread of Ringworm
Ringworm is spread by direct contact with an infected animal or through a contaminated substance. Ringworm can linger on, or become trapped in, the fibers of carpets, curtains, and linens if not thoroughly cleaned.
In some cases, a pet can carry (and spread) ringworm even if they have no obvious signs. Ringworm spores are able to survive in the environment for a remarkably long time, so it's essential to confine your affected dog to a single room of your house throughout their treatment. If you heal your dog but do not eliminate the virus from your home, there is a high risk of reinfection.
To eliminate the ringworm spores, soft furniture and carpets should be vacuumed thoroughly and regularly, or steam cleaned. Disinfectants should be used to clean any hard surfaces. Consult your veterinarian to find out which disinfectants are most effective.
Quarantine Your Dog
So, how long should I quarantine a dog with ringworm? That is a very difficult question to answer. Ringworm spores are able to remain viable for anywhere from 6 weeks to 18 months, which makes treatment very challenging. It's important to confine your dog to a separate room in your house and limit their contact with your other pets or family members while the therapy is ongoing.
While it can be emotionally trying, aim to keep your dog quarantined for about six weeks while you treat their ringworm, and maintain an impeccable cleaning schedule. At Summerville Animal Hospital our vets know how challenging this can be but in the long run, keeping your pet quarantined until the condition has fully cleared can prevent ongoing recurrences and the need for repeated treatments.
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.