Ringworm, also known as Dermatophytosis, is a parasitic fungal infection that affects the superficial layers of the nails, skin and hair on your dog. Ringworm infections can occur in all domesticated animals and even in humans. Ringworm in dogs can be detected by the appearance of specific signs and treated effectively. Learning more about ringworm will help you prevent it, detect it and treat it at its earliest stages.
What does ringworm look like?
The name “ringworm” might be misleading, especially since an actual worm is not involved. The name was created because of the appearance of the infection. The site where ringworm is present will appear to be red, round in shape and a ring around the boundary of the lesion usually resembles the look of a worm.
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Causes of Ringworm in Dogs
Ringworm is present in humid, hot climates. The infected animal will spread it in their living space and the places, animals and people he comes into contact with. Ringworm spores can live in an environment for more that 18 months. Places that are highly populated with animals such as a dog park, kennel, groomers or animal shelter increase the risk of your dog contracting ringworm. If your dog has a poor immune system or health issues they are more susceptible to ringworm.
How is ringworm in dogs transmitted?
Transmission of ringworm occurs by your dog having direct contact with the fungus. An infected animal or even a person can spread the ringworm fungus by touching your dog or coming into contact with surfaces or objects that your dog has access to. Fungal spores remain on objects such as carpet, bedding, brushes, food bowls, furniture and toys for more than 18 months. The length of time between direct contact with the fungus and the signs of infection ranges between 14 to 21 days.
Diagnosis of Ringworm in Dogs
The veterinarian will use an ultraviolet light, also referred to as a Wood’s lamp, to closely examine your dog’s hair. In addition the veterinarian will take a fungal culture of skin clippings from the infected area and examine it under a microscope. A skin biopsy may also be performed.
Treatment of Ringworm in Dogs
The veterinarian will determine the proper treatment by the severity of the condition.
Dogs and puppies that have small isolated lesions will most-likely just heal on within a 4 month time frame, without the help of treatment. Treatment options the veterinarian will consider is medicated shampoo, miconazole ointment, oral medications, topical treatment and antifungal agents. Once treatment begins the lesions should heal within 1 to 3 weeks.
A followup visit to the veterinarian is required to assure that the lesion has healed properly.
Prevention of Ringworm in Dogs
Since ringworm spreads easily and can be transferred from dog to human and vice versa, pet parents will want to take steps to prevent a reoccurrence.
You will want to wash all of your dog’s bedding and toys thoroughly. In addition, wash the tile or wood floors and shampoo the carpet and rugs. Wipe down surfaces that your dog had contact with using one part bleach and 10 parts water mixture to kill the fungus.
Always use gloves during the cleaning process and avoid contact with the objects. If you have other pets in your household you should fully inspect their skin for lesions. If you find any of your other pets have ringworm, take them to the veterinarian immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment. You can also quarantine your infected dog until he is fully healed so prevent the spread of the fungus.
How long is the infected dog contagious?
Your dog remains contagious for up to 3 weeks, even during treatment. If treatment is not involved your dog will remain contagious until the proper measures and treatment is taken. Several weeks after treatment, the veterinarian will request for you to bring your dog into the office so that ringworm cultures can be performed.
This step is to assure that the fungus is completely gone and your dog is not contagious any longer.
Can dogs fully recover from ringworm?
Yes. Dogs that receive proper treatment in accordance with the severity of ringworm they have will recover.
Pet parents are responsible for following the instructions and recommendations for treatment from the veterinarian strictly. If proper treatment measures are not taken seriously your dog can have reoccurring bouts with ringworm. At times, pet parents will see the lesion heal and disappear which gives the appearance that the fungus is gone. However, the only true way to know if your dog is fully healed from ringworm is to have one last culture taken which will allow the veterinarian to confirm healing.
Ringworm in dogs is one of the most common transferable infections between dogs and humans. It is well known that humans can get ringworm and transfer it to their dog without even realizing it. Pet parents will always want to keep a close eye on their own skin as well. If you spot any unusual lesions, itching, redness or circular shaped scaly skin on your own body, visit your doctor immediately for diagnosis and treatment. You will want to isolate yourself as much as possible from your dog and wipe down surfaces to reduce the risk of transferring the fungus to your dog or anyone else in your household.