Although ringworm isn't itchy or painful, it is highly contagious and can create other problems if left untreated. Our Bedford vets discuss what ringworm is, its symptoms, and what to do if your dog contracts it.
What is ringworm?
The scientific name for ringworm is “dermatophytosis” and it isn't a type of worm at all, it is actually a fungus. This fungus affects the skin of your dog and will leave circular bald patches and rashes. It was called ringworm due to the ring-like shape and its worm-like appearance under the skin. The three common types of ringworm fungus causing skin problems in dogs and cats are Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, and Trichophyton metagrophytes.
Ringworm is known to infect not only dogs but also cats and humans. For humans this fungus causes a red circular or patchy rash to develop on the skin, and when it gets on the feet it is commonly referred to as "athlete's foot".
Be sure to be careful when having contact with your pup until the fungus has been fully treated as it can easily be passed from your dog to you.
Symptoms of RingwormIt is a good idea to visit with your vet to have your dog assessed if you happen to notice any possible signs of ringworm with or without the rash such as these other symptoms,
- Dry, brittle hair with hair follicles that break easily
- Inflamed, red skin rash
- Circular or patchy areas of hair loss (alopecia)
- Scales that look like dandruff
- Scabs or raised nodular lesions on the skin
- Darkened skin (hyperpigmentation)
- Reddened skin (erythema)
- Inflamed folds of the skin around the claws, or bordering the nails
- Itchiness (pruritus)
How Ringworm Spreads
Ringworm is highly contagious and survives for many months on household surfaces if not cleaned properly. It can stay trapped on surfaces such as combs, food and water dishes, or your couch as well as in fibers such as carpets, curtains, and towels.
The most common place for a dog to contract ringworm is at the park since the fungus commonly lives in the soil. Once the ringworm spores are picked up by your dog they will live on the skin until there is an opening in the skin at which time it will infect your pup. Your dog's immune system will work to fight the infection as the fungus spreads. The rate at which ringworm spreads is dependent on your dog's health and age as well as what type of fungus it was infected with.
It is also possible for dogs to be asymptomatic carriers of the fungus and could possibly spread the infection without any signs. If your dog has been diagnosed with ringworm, you should book an appointment with your vet for any other pets that you have as well. It is also a good idea to inform the owners of any other dogs that your pup might have been in contact with prior to diagnosis.
Ringworm can easily spread in settings where there may be many dogs together for an extended period of time, such as dog kennels and parks.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Ringworm is not the only skin condition in which a dog might lose fur or develop a rash, therefore it is always ideal to have your pet looked at by your veterinarian. Your vet will perform a physical examination as well as diagnostics in order to diagnose ringworm in your dog and to determine the type of fungus it has.
The treatments for ringworm will vary depending on the severity of the infection and the type of fungus that caused the ringworm infection.
Some common treatment methods for ringworm are,
- Topical medication
- Anti-fungal oral medication
- Environmental decontamination
- Trimming your pet's fur in the affected area
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.