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Ringworm In Dogs: Best Treatment For Dog Ringworm

Updated by Sheryl on Aug 6, 2021

Many people are surprised and ask whether dogs have ringworm. Yes, dogs have ringworm. But do not worry much. This article here is to give you all you need to know about your dog and ringworm.

dog has ringworm on the face

Do not be confused about the name “ringworm”. Ringworm is not a worm, it's a fungus that causes infection. Take, for example, you may think Greenland Island is all covered with green vegetation. But this is far from the truth because much of Greenland is covered by extensively massive ice sheets. Ringworm is a contagious skin infection caused by fungi living or non-living dead tissues of the body’s nails, skin, and hairs. The name ringworm comes from the unique physical appearance of the red and round raised ring pattern signifying the borderline of inflammatory lesions in those infected with ringworm. It can affect both humans and animals. Ringworm feeds on the fibrous protein, which forms the major structural components of nails, hoofs, horns, hairs, furs, and so on.

What is dog ringworm?

Some of us mostly have strange feelings when we get to hear animals also have some of the infections humans have, with ringworm being one of them. Ringworm is common in many parts of the world and actually infects many species of domesticated animals with dogs being inclusive. Dog owners need to be fully conversant with the symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of ringworms on dogs.

The causative fungi of ringworm belong to the specialized pathogenic group called dermatophytes.

Some species of dermatophytes, infect only one animal, while other species can be transmitted among very different species of animal. Some species can spread from animals to humans. It is of importance to note that dermatophytosis can be a zoonotic infection. This means that it can be transmitted from dogs to humans, and as well from humans to dogs.

puppy has ringworm on the body

There are three major fungal species causing ringworm in dogs. These are Microsporum canis which causes 70% of ringworm cases, Microsporum gypseum which causes 20% of ringworm cases, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes which causes 10% of ringworm cases. These three species of dermatophytes can infect humans and are zoonotic. These three species of dermatophytes can infect humans and are zoonotic. This is also a wake-up call for us as dog owners to be on the lookout for ringworm in our dogs and be proactive for our sake and other members of our family.

Transmission of dog ringworm

The fungus, causing ringworm in dogs exists and thrives in the peripheral layer of dog skin, nails, and hair follicles. Exterior infections commonly affect several areas of the dog's body. Ringworm in dogs is highly contagious and can be transmitted when a dog comes in direct contact with an infected animal or human. Ringworm infection in dog may also happen by indirect contact whereby a dog comes in contact with a contaminated object (like carpets, beddings, food, drinking water bowls, couches, and combs). It is worthy of note that the fungal spores causing ringworm in dogs can persist on environmental surfaces, brushes combs, or beddings reportedly for 18 months.

hold a puppy with ringworms

Is it all dogs that come in contact with ringworm fungal spores that become infected? The answer is – NO! There are some factors that contribute to your dog becoming infected with ringworm. They are:

  • Age: This is a highly important factor that causes the susceptibility of dogs to contract ringworm infection. Very old dogs and very little puppies are prone to dog ringworm. This is due to the fact that they have weaker immune systems, making them more susceptible to ringworm fungus.
  •  Health: Health: There are some diseases in dogs that hurt their immune system and lower their ability to fight off infections, which makes them exposed to contracting dog ringworm. We should also know that there are some medications that weaken the immunity of dogs as well. These medications serve indirectly as an "invitation" to the fungi to infect the dogs. Healthy dogs are usually resistant to ringworm infection.
  • Behavior: Dogs that are fond of digging everything and everywhere are more prone to contract ringworm fungi in the dirt. The situation becomes more delicate if such a dog's skin already has abrasion, bruise, or wound.  
  • Environment: The dog's environment is highly important. It determines whether the dog is exposed directly to infected animals or contaminated objects. Dogs in groups are more likely to get infected with ringworm fungal spores.

It is highly important for dog parents to know the symptoms of ringworm in dogs.

This will go a long way in helping to prevent transmission of the infection to other pets and humans as well. Despite the fact that ringworm in dogs is not life-threatening the contagious nature makes it important for a veterinary doctor’s intervention, the symptoms of ringworm in dogs after exposure to the fungal spores can take up to three weeks to develop.

The symptoms of ring worms in dogs include:

  • Alopecia (fur loss): Alopecia (fur loss): Hair follicles are easily infected by the ringworm fungus, leading to the breaking of hair at the skin line of the affected hair shafts. Alopecia caused by dog ringworm is roughly circular. The lesions may spread over the dog's body due to the progression of the fungus.
  • sick dog

  • Dandruff: Dog ringworm can easily result in dry, and flaky skin.
  • Mildly-Itchy Skin: When you observe that your dog's scratches are more than usual, it can be a sign of dog ringworm. The skin may be very red and very itchy.  
  • Scaly Skin: The presence of scaly skin in your dog calls for attention because it may be due to dog ringworm.  
  • Onychomycosis: (fungal infection of nails) A dog's claws may become brittle, broken, and rough when it has ringworm on the body.

It should be known that there are some dogs with ringworm called asymptomatic carriers. These dogs show no signs but have the ability to spread the infection to other dogs, animals, and humans. This becomes a huge problem in dog kennels and shelters.

Treatment of dog ringworm can last for a couple of weeks before the full effects can be seen. The method of treatment of dog ringworm depends on how severe it is, the number of dogs involved, the presence of susceptible humans, and ease of environmental disinfection.

The line of dog ringworm treatment is geared towards the combination of topical therapy, systemic therapy, and total elimination of contaminations in the environment.  

  • Coat (Fur) Clipping: Before you apply any treatment, you must clip your dog's fur, mostly around the patches of ringworm. This will prevent the fungus from spreading, as well as assisting the topical treatment to be effective.
  • Topical Treatment: This involves the use of medicated shampoo alongside various ointments and creams. The infected dog needs to be bathed with medicated shampoo, at least twice weekly. Then apply creams or ointments on the skin. It is of importance that you consult your veterinarian to recommend a topical treatment. This treatment span from a couple of weeks to several months. Always wash and sanitize your hands and contact surfaces with bleach after washing or bathing your dog.  
  • Oral (Systemic) Treatment: This treatment requires the use of oral antifungal drugs such as griseofulvin, terbinafine (Lamisil), or itraconazole. These drugs are preferable due to their lesser side effects. These treatments usually span for nothing less than six weeks. This can be longer, in some cases depending on the severity and response of the dog, do not proceed to stop the treatment unless recommended by a veterinarian.
  • treat the ringworms with medicine

  • Environmental Disinfection and Sanitization: Clean the environment that has been contaminated with ringworm fungi spores to prevent healthy dogs and humans from becoming infected.

Prevention of ringworm in dogs

  • The easiest and best way of preventing dog ringworm, is total environmental home cleansing and things that your dog comes in contact with.
  • Pay attention to the places that your dog goes to, and other animals that contact has been made with.  
  • Always follow your veterinarian's instructions.
  • Be knowledgeable about the symptoms of dog ringworm and steps to be taken for the treatment.  

Dog ringworm can be transmitted easily to humans. This can be seen in children or adults with the compromised immune systems. We should ensure to reduce exposure to the infected dog. Always wear hand gloves when attending to dogs with ringworm, and wash your hands well after contact.

Sheryl
Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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