Is There a Cure for Ringworm in Dogs?

The cure for ringworm involves administration of an anti-fungal drug, shampooing and decontaminating the living environment. Ringworm is both common and highly contagious. However, it has nothing to do with a worm; it's actually a fungal infection.

About Ringworm

The infection received the name "ringworm" because of the circular lesions caused by the fungus Dermatophytes, which was thought to have been caused by worms. The infection can be spread to other animals as well as to humans. The fungi live on the skin's surface and in the skin follicles feeding on the dead hair and skin tissue. Though there are three different types of fungus that cause ringworm, the most common one is Microsporum canis, affecting both cats and dogs. Young dogs and puppies are susceptible since their immune systems have not fully developed.

The most common symptom is a circular hairless lesion. On humans it appears as a ring whereas on dogs, it has a more irregular shape and can grow in size. The patches of hair loss are the result of the fungi causing the hair shafts to break off. Usually found on the tail, face, ears and paws, ringworm lesions are scaly. The lesions may or may not be itchy. The skin is very often inflamed and reddened.

Transmission Is Easy

Transmission occurs by simple direct contact with the infected animal or something that the infected animal has come into contact with. The fungal spores can live for a long time in bedding, carpets, rugs and grooming equipment. The fungus can even live for months in infected soil. The incubation period is 10 to 12 days. A mixture of bleach (500 mls) and water (4 liters) can kill the fungus.


Ringworm will resolve itself in 2 to 4 months without treatment; however, the pet is left to suffer and can infect other animals and people. Depending upon the severity, treatment involves over-the-counter medications or a prescription. If the lesions have spread over a wide area, prescription medications in conjunction with topical anti-fungal cream will speed up the healing process and prevent further transmission to other pets or humans. The prescription drug Griseofulvin inhibits fungal reproduction, but it also has side effects.

Treatment is enhanced with the use of anti-fungal shampoo. The shampoo should remain on the pet for at least 10 minutes before rinsing off thoroughly. Some owners use a lime sulfur dip to remove any parasites from the pet; however, it is very potent and should be used with care. Gloves should be worn and your pet should not be permitted to ingest it by licking or chewing.

Besides treating the pet infected with ringworm, it is necessary to treat the environment as well. Using bleach as a disinfectant when washing pet bedding or other fabrics such as couches and rugs will help prevent the spread of ringworm to other pets and family members. Vacuuming areas that pets frequently roam will also prevent its spread. Professional steam cleaning will kill the fungi and also prevent its spread.