At one point or another, your dog may contract ringworm. Although it is possible for ringworm to have mild symptoms it may cause other issues if left untreated. Our Wake Forest vets explain what ringworm is and what it looks like on your dog.
What is ringworm?
Dermatophytosis, or ringworm as it is commonly called, is actually a type of fungus. This fungus affects the skin and leaves characteristic circular bald patches or rashes on your dog. The name ringworm came to be from the worm-like ring shape that the fungus creates under the skin. There are three common types of ringworm that are known to create skin issues in animals. These are Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, and Trichophyton metagrophytes.
Ringworm is known to infect not only dogs but also cats and humans. For humans this fungus causes a red circular or patchy rash to develop on the skin, and when it gets on the feet it is commonly referred to as "athlete's foot".
Ringworm is not specific to dogs and can affect many different species of animal including humans. In humans, ringworm is most commonly seen in the form of "athlete's foot".
It is important to be careful when having contact with your pup until the fungus has been fully treated as it can be easily transmitted from your dog to you.
Symptoms of Ringworm
If you notice any of the signs or symptoms below that are typically associated with ringworm you should call your vet to schedule a visit to have your dog examined.
- Dry, brittle hair with hair follicles that break easily
- Inflamed, red skin rash
- Circular or patchy areas of hair loss (alopecia)
- Scales that look like dandruff
- Scabs or raised nodular lesions on the skin
- Darkened skin (hyperpigmentation)
- Reddened skin (erythema)
- Inflamed folds of the skin around the claws, or bordering the nails
- Itchiness (pruritus)
How Ringworm Spreads
It is important to keep in mind that ringworm is a highly contagious fungus that can survive for extended periods of time on household surfaces if not cleaned properly. This fungus commonly lives on surfaces such as combs, food and water dishes, or your couch as well as in fibers around your house such as carpets, curtains, and towels.
The ringworm fungus commonly lives in the soil at the park which is where dogs most frequently come into contact with the fungal spores. The ringworm spores acquired by your furry friend will live on their skin until there is an open wound in the skin, at which time the fungus will infect your pup. The rate at which ringworm spreads is dependent on your dog's health and age as well as what type of fungus it was infected with. The rate at which the fungus spreads will also depend on how fast your dog's immune system works to fight the infection.
Just as with many other conditions, there is a chance that your dog could be an asymptomatic carrier of the fungus and could possibly spread the infection without any signs. If your dog has been diagnosed with ringworm, you should book an appointment with your vet for any other pets that you have as well. It is also a good idea to inform the owners of any other dogs that your pup might have been in contact with prior to diagnosis.
Ringworm can easily spread in settings where there may be many dogs together for an extended period of time, such as dog kennels and parks.
Diagnosis & Treatment
There are a variety of skin conditions that may cause a dog to lose fur or develop a rash. It is recommended to have your pet looked at by your veterinarian if they have any symptoms of skin conditions. Your vet will perform a physical examination as well as diagnostics in order to diagnose ringworm in your dog and to determine the type of ringworm fungus it has acquired
The type of fungus that caused the ringworm infection as well as the severity, will determine the method of treatment your vet suggests for the infection.
Some of the most common treatment methods for ringworm are,
- Topical medication
- Anti-fungal oral medication
- Environmental decontamination
- Ensuring the fur in the affected area is trimmed
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.