While ringworm does not cause itching or pain, it is extremely contagious and can lead to additional complications when not treated. Our veterinarians in Babcock Ranch provide information about ringworm, its symptoms, and appropriate steps to take if your dog becomes infected.
What is a 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 its 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.
Ringworms can infect not only dogs but also cats and humans. In humans, it leads to the development of a red, circular, or patchy rash on the skin, and when it affects the feet, it's commonly referred to as "athlete's foot."
Exercise caution when in contact with your dog until the fungal infection has been completely treated, as it can easily be transmitted 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 can persist on household surfaces for an extended period if not adequately cleaned. It can adhere to items like combs, food and water dishes, and furniture, as well as materials 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 your dog picks up the ringworm spores, 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.
Dogs can also carry the fungus without displaying symptoms, potentially transmitting the infection unknowingly. If your dog is diagnosed with ringworm, it's advisable to schedule a vet appointment for any other pets you may have and inform the owners of other dogs your pet has been in contact with before the diagnosis.
In environments where dogs gather for extended periods, such as kennels and parks, ringworm can easily spread.
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.