Ringworm in dogs may initially seem harmless, but if left untreated, it can lead to bigger problems. Our Stanwood veterinarians provide guidance on identifying and treating ringworm in dogs.

What is Ringworm?

It may surprise you to learn that ringworm is actually a fungal infection and not a type of hookworm, roundworm, or tapeworm as one might expect from its name.

This infection often results in circular or semi-circular bald patches and rashes on the skin, which appear raised and red due to swelling. Ringworm gets its name from these skin rashes' ring-like or worm-like shape.

What Does Ringworm Look Like on a Dog?

Ringworm typically appears as a circular or ring-shaped pattern on the skin, which can cause redness, hair loss and swelling.

However, in dogs, ringworm may not be as easily noticeable, so it's important to watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Inflamed, red skin rash
  • Scales that look like dandruff
  • Itchiness (pruritus)
  • Dry, brittle hair with hair follicles that break easily
  • Circular or patchy areas of hair loss (alopecia)

  • Darkened skin (hyperpigmentation)
  • Reddened skin (erythema)
  • Scabs or raised nodular lesions on the skin
  • Inflamed folds of the skin around the claws, or bordering the nails

If you notice any combination of these symptoms in your pup, contact a vet immediately.

How Does a Dog Get Ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection that can be easily spread from an infected animal or contaminated objects such as towels, food or water bowls, couches, or carpets. The fungus spores can survive for months and can even be spread through your dog's shed fur. The fungus can also remain on surfaces and get trapped in the fibers of carpets, drapes, linens, etc., in your home if they are not properly cleaned.

Dogs often get this fungal infection from playing outdoors, as some forms of the fungus can live freely in the soil. Depending on various factors, such as your pet's overall health, the species of fungus, the part of the body affected, and the dog's age, the infection may turn into a localized or more widespread skin infection. Sometimes, a pet can be a carrier of ringworm without showing any visible symptoms.

If your dog has been diagnosed with ringworm, having your other pets checked by a veterinarian is a good idea to ensure their safety. You should also inform other dog owners and dog-walking buddies that your dog has been infected and is being treated. They should watch for signs of ringworm in their pets and take necessary precautions.

Quarantine Your Dog

Dealing with a dog that has ringworm can be challenging since the spores can remain viable for up to 18 months, making treatment difficult. To start with, it's important to confine your dog to a separate room in your house and limit their contact with other pets or family members while the therapy is ongoing.

To effectively treat ringworm, it is advisable to keep your dog quarantined for about six weeks and maintain a rigorous cleaning schedule. Although it may be emotionally trying to keep your pet isolated for that long, it can prevent ongoing recurrences and the need for repeated treatments in the long run. At Summerville Animal Hospital, our veterinarians are aware of the challenges involved, but they recommend keeping your pet quarantined until the condition has fully cleared.

How is Ringworm Treated?

If your pet has been diagnosed with ringworm, several effective treatments are available. Your veterinarian will help you choose the best solution based on the severity of your dog's ringworm problem. The treatment process is straightforward and has very few complications if the fungus is treated promptly.

Your vet may prescribe a topical medication to apply to the skin, or an anti-fungal medication that can be taken orally. Your vet may also suggest shaving the fur around the infected areas of your dog and recommend an environmental decontamination of your house to eliminate any contaminated elements.

It's important to note that you should not assume your dog is cured because they stop showing symptoms. It would be best if you continued the treatment until your vet confirms your dog is cured.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your pup is showing signs of ringworm, contact our vets in Stanwood today for a consultation.