6 Signs of Ringworm in Dogs

Ringworm in dogs is a type of skin rash that can be transmitted to other dogs and humans. Ask most dog owners and they either know about or have experienced ringworm in their own pet. The identification and treatment of the skin problem is fairly straightforward.

Ringworm is a Fungus

Contrary to what its name suggests, ringworm is a fungus, not a parasite. The fungus is most prevalent in hot, humid climates and is most frequently diagnosed during the fall and winter months. While the fungi are primarily one of 3 varieties, there are several fungal varieties that can cause ringworm. The spores are typically found in the dog's bedding and can be shed into the environment for up to 18 months. While most dog owners know about ringworm, the actual incident rate is about 3% of all skin problem cases.

6 Signs of Ringworm

The signs of ringworm infections are fairly similar across most cases. While visual inspection and identification can be fairly certain, it is best to confirm your suspicions through testing. Common signs are:

  • A hairless,small, round lesion has formed on the dog.
  • The skin in the center of the lesion has become scaly.
  • Small pustules form on the surface of the sore.
  • The lesion may start out small, but can continue to grow.
  • The sore may or may not be itchy.
  • Lesions are most common on the head, but may also form on the legs, tail and feet.

Diagnosis and Treatment

While there are several methods of diagnosing a ringworm infection, the most accurate method is to collect scales and crust from the dog's skin and coat and create a culture using the culture medium specifically identified for ringworm. Once completed, the culture can be examined under a microscope and the diagnosis confirmed.

Sometimes treatment is not required if the dog or puppy is healthy and if the lesion is small and is isolated to just one lesion. In these cases the sore will heal in about 4 weeks. If treatment is indicated, the infection can be treated twice a day with a topical antifungal medication. Another treatment option is the use of an oral antifungal, but this treatment must be done under close supervision by a veterinarian because oral antifungals must be administered over several months and can reach a toxic level.

While the frequency of ringworm infections is very low, it can be spread very easily if not controlled. That's why it's a good idea for dog owners to know how to recognize the signs and when to seek assistance in treating the infection.