Dog Ringworm Symptoms and Signs

Dog ringworm is relatively common and easy to transmit, however it can be treated once it is diagnosed. Ringworm is a fungal disease that can infect the skin of dogs, as well as cats and other mammals, including humans. Checking your dog for the signs and symptoms of ringworm is important, as it spreads easily and could infect your family without preventative measures.

How Ringworm Is Transmitted

Ringworm is picked up from other animals with ringworm, so if your dog has had contact with other animals, or has spent time in places where other animals have spent time, you should check them carefully for ringworm. It can be spread by direct contact, or by contact with the spores released by ringworm, which can be found in fibers such as those in bedding, or soft toys or carpets, or almost anywhere that other animals have been.

Most dogs have an immune system strong enough to resist ringworm, but young dogs, elderly dogs or dogs that are sick or in poor condition may easily develop ringworm. Even healthy dogs might occasionally have a very small outbreak.

Signs and Symptoms of Dog Ringworm

Generally, if your dog or puppy has been exposed to ringworm spores, it will suffer an outbreak around two weeks after the exposure. An early warning sign of ringworm is a small red blister or bump, which will eventually spread to a raised, circular patch, typical of ringworm.

The easiest way to spot ringworm is to look for patches of bare skin, about the size and shape of a coin, which may look flaky or scaly. The patch of skin may also be irritated, or contain pustules and may or may not be itchy. The bare spot is usually, but not always circular, and in some cases may even look like mange, and spread over a larger area of the body. The patches usually start out small and grow over time. Ringworm is usually found on the head, the legs and the tail, but may be found anywhere on the dog. On humans, ringworm appears as a dark red, coin sized ring with scaly, raised skin inside it.

Treatment of Ringworm

Generally if the bare patches of skin are small, circular and isolated they can be classed as ringworm and treated with anti-fungal shampoo or other treatments. If there are other dogs or cats present, washing them with the same shampoo and disinfecting and washing all bedding can help to prevent further outbreaks. Use gloves to handle a dog with ringworm to help prevent its spread.

If a single animal only has one or two patches, they will probably clear up on their own over the course of a couple of months even without the shampoo. However if the patches are large, or irregular, or if the dog is unhealthy, taking it to the vet to check the diagnosis is prudent.

Ringworm is usually not a serious condition, but is uncomfortable for dogs. Treating it promptly will help to arrest its spread, as well as ensuring your dog and your family will stay happy and healthy.