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Dog Ringworm - What It Looks Like, What It Is & How It's Treated

Ringworm is a common fungal infection often seen in dogs and other animals. Interestingly, when it occurs on our own feet we refer to this infection as Athlete's Foot. Here, our Albany vets explain what ringworm looks like on a dog and how it can be treated.

What does ringworm look like on a dog?

Ringworm most commonly appears on dogs as patches of hair loss with a crusty coating, although in some rare cases, dogs with ringworm can actually be asymptomatic and show no signs at all. Dogs who are very young, elderly, or have long hair are more likely to be impacted.

If your dog has ringworm the condition could present in a number of ways, from grey, scaly patches, to bald spots, or bright red lesions. 

If you notice any of the following symptoms book a veterinary appointment for your pup right away:

  • 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
  • Itchiness

How is dog ringworm diagnosed?

If you are concerned that your dog contracted ringworm then you will need to schedule a veterinary visit right away as the only way to cure your dog of this infection is through treatment.

Vets can employ a variety of methods to diagnose ringworm in dogs. One of the initial steps is a thorough physical examination of the affected areas to look for characteristic signs such as circular patches of hair loss, redness, crusting, and scaling.

To confirm the diagnosis, they may perform a Wood's lamp examination, which involves shining a special ultraviolet light on the suspected areas. In some cases, the affected hairs may fluoresce, indicating the presence of ringworm.

Additionally, your vet may perform a fungal culture by collecting hair and skin samples to grow and identify the specific fungus responsible for your dog's skin infection. This allows for a definitive diagnosis and helps determine the most effective treatment plan.

What is the treatment for dog ringworm?

The treatment of ringworm in dogs involves a multi-faceted approach that aims to eliminate the fungal infection and promote healing.

Veterinarians commonly prescribe antifungal medications, either in oral or topical forms, to combat the infection. Oral medications are often used for severe or widespread cases, while topical treatments, such as antifungal shampoos or creams, are suitable for localized infections.

Additionally, regular bathing with medicated shampoos can help remove fungal spores from your dog's coat.

With proper care and treatment, most dogs can recover from ringworm and regain their healthy skin and coat.

Is it possible to stop the spread of ringworm in dogs?

Ringworm can endure anywhere from 6 weeks to 18 months, and while it is not as concerning as other potential infections it should still be managed seriously. In order for ringworm to spread, there must be direct contact with an infected animal or surface contaminated with the fungal spores. All surfaces must be cleaned properly otherwise ringworm will continue to survive, this includes the fibers of the carpet, bedding and curtains.

Should I quarantine my dog while they are being treated for ringworm?

A pet may be a ringworm carrier even if there are no obvious signs. Ringworm spores are tenacious and may survive in the environment for a long time, so it may be helpful to confine your affected dog to a single room while you treat them.

If you heal your dog but do not eliminate the virus from your home, your dog may become infected again. Ongoing thorough cleaning of bedding, grooming tools, and living areas will be essential while treating your pup, so having them contained to only particular areas within your house can help to cut back on the work you will need to do.

How long to quarantine dog with ringworm

Ideally, you should try and keep your dog quarantined for about six weeks while you battle ringworm. Although this might sound difficult, it should be infinitely easier, and much less expensive, than having to constantly battle ringworm.

Throughout the treatment process, close monitoring by your veterinarian will be necessary to ensure the infection is effectively controlled and to make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding horses or ponies. For an accurate diagnosis of your animal's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog showing signs of ringworm? Contact our experienced Albany vets today to book an examination for your four-legged family member.

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