Treatment Options for Ringworm-Related Hair Loss in Dogs

Hair loss in dogs can be caused by ringworm, a fungal infection of the skin. There are specific symptoms of ringworm and treatment for hair loss is available.

Ringworm Explained

Ringworm can be caused by many types of fungus, which are mostly found in climates that are humid and hot. The spores from the fungus can live for up to a year and a half on a dog, or on a surface that provides enough nutrients for its survival.

Ringworm is very contagious and even humans can acquire it. A dog can be exposed to ringworm by being around another animal that has it, or by coming in contact with an item that has the fungus on it. Adult dogs are usually able to fight off ringworm infections before they become a problem, when their immune systems are strong.

Ringworm Symptoms and Diagnosis

You can tell a dog has ringworm if a round wound or lesion is seen that doesn't have any hair on it. The wounded skin will look inflamed and will cause the dog to feel itchy in the spot affected. The skin can often look scaly or flaky. Ringworm can start out as a small lesion, but typically grows as the mold spores reproduce.

A scrape test, looking at a dog’s hair under a microscope and using a black light are methods veterinarians use to confirm a ringworm diagnosis in dogs.

Treating Hair Loss Due to Ringworm

The way to re-grow a dog’s hair that has ringworm is to eliminate the parasitic fungus from the dog.

There are many treatment options and a vet will choose the one most appropriate for your dog based on the severity of the infection, how many dogs in the home are infected, the dynamics of your household and the cleanliness of the dog’s environment. Prevention is another method of treating hair loss due to ringworm, as it is spread through direct contact of the fungus.

A dog can take tablets orally to eradicate the parasite. The tablets will cause the medicine to be in the dog’s hair follicles, where ringworm often resides. Topical medicines and antifungal shampoos are available for dogs through your vet’s office to treat fungal infections. Popular topical medications and shampoos have the following ingredients in them: chlorhexidine, miconazole or ketoconazole. A dip made of lime sulfur, which can be purchased, may also be recommended for the infected dog, and can be used as a preventative measure for other pets in the household.

Another method to help re-grow hair that may seem contrary to the solution is to shave the dog’s hair. This will remove the hair that is infected by ringworm. However, this should only be done with a veterinarian’s recommendation.

The best way to re-grow a dog’s hair that has had ringworm is to treat the infection itself, so the hair can grow back on its own. There are a variety of anti-fungal medications available, and a vet can recommend the best one for your dog.