Topical Agents for Treating Dog Ringworm Infections

Treating dog ringworm with topical agents is the most common treatment method. While there are oral medications that can be given, they are long term solutions and must be overseen by a veterinarian.

Trim Excess Hair around Ringworm

For all topical methods, it is recommended that you trim all excess hair in and around the infected area. This will not only improve the effectiveness of the topical agents by allowing full access to the infected skin, but will allow you to see if the infection is spreading.

Anti-fungal Shampoos

In cases of infection where the ringworm is fairly localized, it is common practice to bathe the dog in an anti-fungal shampoo as an initial treatment. This will allow any scaling or excess hair to be washed away from the infected area and provides a widespread removal of any fungal spores that may have spread beyond the infected area. The shampoos can continue to be used, bathing the dog twice each week.

Lime sulfur dip, while most effective, requires extreme caution to prevent ingestion and contact with the eyes. This dip tends to be most effective and can be sponged on twice per week. Ketoconazole shampoo is an anti-fungal/antibacterial shampoo. 2% Miconazole shampoo can be used alone or in combination with chlorhexidine shampoo. This must be left on the skin for 10 minutes before rinsing.

Cream-based Medications

  • Cream-based anti-fungal treatments have questionable efficacy as most dogs will lick them off prior to the medication taking effect. If the ringworm is on the head or face or in an area where the dog can't reach with his tongue, the creams can be used against the infection.
  • Lotrimin Cream is applied to the ringworm and absorbed into the fungal wall, weakening it and allowing fluids to leak out. This will eventually kill the fungus.
  • Miconazole Cream, when applied to the ringworm, works by inhibiting the synthesis of a critical fungal cell wall component, weakening the cell wall and allowing the fungus to break down.

Natural Ringworm Treatments

There are several natural ringworm treatments made from herbs or oils and can be mixed up at home.

  • Neem oil is made from the seeds of the Neem tree and has both anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. The oil can be applied to a cotton swab and dabbed on the lesions 2 to 3 times a day. The Neem oil also has a bitter taste which discourages dogs from licking it off.
  • Tinctures can be made of Calendula and applied to the lesions 2 to 3 times per day. Calendula ointment can also be applied as it has the same healing properties and can be soothing to the irritated skin.
  • Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and can be mixed with a carrier oil (olive oil or sweet almond oil) and Vitamin E. Applied to the ringworm, the mixture both soothes the skin and kills off the fungal infection.

While ringworm will heal on its own in about 2 to 4 months, you can ease your dog's discomfort by using the topical methods discussed. Whether you choose a shampoo, an anti-fungal cream or a natural remedy, consistency in application is important in alleviating the infection.