Ringworm In Dogs. Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Ringworm In Dogs. Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Is ringworm an actual worm? Thankfully, no! Ringworm is the name given to a common type of fungal infection that is found in the superficial layer of the skin, hair, and nails of many different mammals. The name given to this disease, ringworm, is somewhat misleading as it does not actually refer to being infected with a worm. In some cases, the typical ring-like appearance is not observed either. In dogs, ringworm lesions typically appear as well as areas of acute hair loss that are circular in appearance.

What is Ringworm?

Ringworm is the name given to a fungus that is named for its iconic round and raised appearance that is seen when humans are infected with the fungus. Ringworm is scientifically referred to as dermatophytes, which is a collection of pathogenic fungi. In dogs, there are various types of ringworm that can appear. The most common type of ringworm that comprises 70 percent of ringworm cases in dogs is caused by the fungus Microsporum canis, an additional 20 percent of cases are caused by the fungus Microsporum gypseum, and 10 percent of cases are caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes.

The fungus that causes ringworm lives in the outermost layer of the skin and in the hair follicles of the infected dog. Occasionally, the fungus can also be found in the dog’s nails. The infection is typically isolated within a few areas of an infected dog and found in superficial areas. Young and senior dogs, as well as dogs that are immunocompromised, are more likely to suffer from a ringworm infection.

Symptoms of Ringworm In Dogs

Ringworm is not an infection that you need to be alarmed of as it is not life-threatening. However, the fungus is very contagious and requires veterinarian intervention to prevent the disease from spreading to other dogs and people. By knowing the symptoms of ringworm in dogs, you can help catch the disease before it spreads to other canine family members or even you.

Ringworm in dogs typically presents itself as a circular area of hair loss (alopecia) and can be seen in various places on the dog’s body. They appear as circular lessons that may begin to heal in the center as they begin to enlarge. This tends to create a patchy appearance that may become inflamed or scabbed as it spreads.

Unlike most skin infections, ringworm does not cause the skin to itch. Instead, the infected hair follicles become very brittle and break off very easily. This aids the disease in spreading throughout your home and infecting other family members. There are some cases in which the fungus spreads to the dog’s claws and makes them brittle. This then causes the dog’s claws to break and become very rough.

It is important that you contact your vet if your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Circular areas of hair loss
  • Dry or brittle hair
  • Inflammed skin or scabbing

Transmission Of Ringworm

Ringworm is a very contagious infection that is transmitted very easily between dogs and people. It can be passed through direct contact with an infected animal or by coming into contact with an object that was used by the infected animal or person.

The reason why this infection is so contagious is that the fungal spores can remain dormant on combs, brushes, food bowls, furniture, bedding, carpet, and other surfaces for up to 18 months!

The good news, however, is that contact with the ringworm fungus does not always lead to an infection. Healthy adult humans are typically resistant to a ringworm infection as their immune system is able to kill the fungus. Elderly people and children are more susceptible to the infection due to immune system weakness or skin sensitivities.

Diagnosis of Ringworm

Most of the time, ringworm can be diagnosed by simply observing the lesions that appear on the dog’s skin. However, this does not provide a 100 percent accurate diagnosis as it does not confirm the presence of the fungi that causes ringworm. Your vet may order an additional diagnostic test to determine if your dog is suffering from a ringworm infection.

There is a special test that causes infected hair to glow under a yellow-green fluorescent light. This is typically done using ultraviolet light known as a Wood’s lamp. However, not all cases of ringworm glow under the Wood’s lamp. This method is typically used if the vet once to double-check to see if your dog is suffering from a ringworm infection.

The most accurate method of testing to see if your dog has ringworm is by conducting a fungal culture and taking a sample of hair or skin cells. This culture is then sent to a lab where they can confirm if your dog is suffering from a fungal infection. However, this can sometimes take a while as the fungal spores can be slow to grow and can take up to four weeks.

Treating Ringworm in Dogs

Treating a ringworm infection in your dog is always necessary to prevent it from spreading to other pets or to other people. The treatment that your veterinarian recommends will likely be determined by how severe the infection is within your dog as well as how many other pets or people are infected. They will also consider if you have children or other susceptible adults in your home and how difficult it would be to disinfect your pet’s environment.

Like with people, topical therapy is often used as a treatment for ringworm. Typically, it is used in combination with oral medication administered to your dog once or twice a day, depending on the prescription. There are also various creams and ointments that are available to treat the area that is affected by ringworm. If your dog’s ringworm infection is localized to one or two areas, the vet may shave the area and recommend that you bathe your dog with a medicated shampoo at least twice a week. This treatment is sometimes able to contain and kill the fungal infection before it spreads to other areas or other pets.

Be sure to closely follow the advice of your vet and do not self-medicate your dog. Follow his instructions closely and continue to administer medication for the directed period of time. In addition, after you come in contact with an infected dog, be sure to wash your hands very thoroughly and disinfect any surface that your dog has been in contact with using a bleach solution to kill the fungus.

Can I get ringworm from my dog?

Yes, you can get ringworm from your dog! Ringworm is a zoonotic infection, which means that it can very easily spread from animals to humans. If you come into contact with an infected animal, you are likely to catch the fungal infection. Cats are typically more susceptible to getting ringworm compared to dogs, but that does not mean that dogs are immune to the infection. So, you must be careful and watch for any symptoms of ringworm to prevent further spread and infection.

Just like puppies are more prone to catching ringworm, human children are also more prone to becoming infected with the infection as well. So, if you have a dog or cat that is infected with ringworm, be sure to keep them away from your children to prevent the fungi from spreading.

If you believe that your child has become infected with ringworm, you should contact your medical doctor as they may prescribe a steroid treatment or topical medication. When humans develop a ringworm infection, the symptoms are similar to that of dogs. Symptoms include red patches on the skin that are raised and itchy.

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