Ringworm is a fungus similar to athlete's foot that causes spores that are hard to get rid of. Here, our Tucson vets explain what ringworm looks like in dogs and how you can treat it.
Signs of Ringworm in Dogs
Dogs can exhibit signs of ringworm in various ways, most of the time it appears as patches of hair loss with a crusty coating, however, 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 result in a bright red sore patch.
Most of the time, ringworm is seen in puppies, senior dogs, and dogs that have compromised immune systems.
If you notice any of the signs below, contact your vet immediately to schedule an examination for your pup:
- Darkened skin
- Reddened skin
- Circular or patchy areas of hair loss
- Inflamed, red skin rash
- Dry, brittle hair
- Scabs or lesions on the skin
- Scales that look like dandruff
- Inflamed folds of the skin around the claws or nails
How Ringworm Is Diagnosed in Dogs
If you think your dog may have ringworm, bring them to the vet straight away since they will need treatment to be cured. Vets use several 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 can be readily treated with oral drugs and several lotions, sprays, and shampoos. If your dog or other pets have a history of skin problems, take them to the vet at the first sign of symptoms. Depending on the severity of the infection, your veterinarian might recommend treating all of your dogs at the same time. Ringworm can cause hair loss, rashes, and other symptoms that, to the untrained eye, can look like another illness. If you suspect your dog has ringworm, there are several effective treatments available.
Depending on how serious your dog's ringworm is, your veterinarian will assist you in selecting the appropriate remedy for them. The following are the most common treatments for ringworm:
- Anti-fungal oral medication
- Topical medication
- Environmental decontamination (such as deep cleaning a carpet to keep the infection from spreading)
Stopping The Spread of Ringworm
Ringworm spreads through 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 it isn't thoroughly cleaned
Sometimes, 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.
Your Dog's Quarantine
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 between 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, attempting to keep your dog quarantined for about six weeks while you treat their ringworm, and maintain an impeccable cleaning schedule. At Spanish Trail Pet Clinic our vets realize 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.