Ringworm in Dogs

Ringworm in dogs is quite common, not usually life threatening and easily treated. Contrary to popular belief, ringworm isn't actually a worm. It's a fungus that lives on the skin and is easily spread between animals and humans.

How Do Dogs Get Ringworm?

Though most adult dogs have a resistance to ringworm, puppies and dogs with an unhealthy immune system are easily susceptible to this fungus. Ringworm is more prevalent in warmer climates and spores can survive on skin, in the ground and in carpets or bedding for as much as 18 months. Ringworm is spread by direct contact with the infection, such as contaminated areas, animals or humans.

Symptoms of Ringworm in Dogs

Dogs can often be carriers of ringworm but never show symptoms. Despite this fact, any carrier of the ringworm spores is contagious. Ringworm symptoms are generally characteristic for most dogs and can be easily confused with mange. Ringworm fungus will cause hair shafts to break off as it feeds on dead skin and hair tissue. The typical ring that is apparent in humans is not generally noticeable in dogs. Instead, dogs will develop patches, not necessarily round in shape, with hair loss and occasional scaly pustules. Ringworm in dogs may or may not be irritating and itchy. The fungus is generally more prevalent on the face and head, but can spread to the ears, tail and paws.

Treatment of Ringworm in Dogs

Though treatment of ringworm in dogs is not mandatory, as it will usually resolve itself in 4 to 6 weeks, it is recommended to seek a remedy due to the possibility of the fungus rapidly spreading to other dogs, cats or humans. There are different forms of treatment, depending upon the situation and your preference.

  • Tablets can be given orally for a period of 30 days. Itraconazole is one preferred oral medication. Oral medication must be given with food.
  • Topical treatments in the form of cream can be used. These anti-fungal skin treatments are effective, but if the ringworm infection is located at a spot in which your dog can reach, the cream with typically be licked off rather quickly.
  • Frequent baths or dips given with medicated shampoo or anti-fungal treatment can be beneficial.
  • If the infection is severe and covering a good portion of the body, shaving the hair from the affected areas can assist healing.
  • Herbal supplements are available to clear up ringworm in dogs. Herbal remedies have also been shown to improve your dog's chances of contracting the fungus in the future.

Prevention of Ringworm in Dogs

Because of the contagious nature of ringworm in dogs, it's nearly impossible to prevent the infection. It is possible however, to prevent spread of the fungus to other members of your household. Treat the dog for infection as soon as it's diagnosed, and be sure to thoroughly clean all areas of the home where your dog lies, sleeps or plays.