You see your dog constantly scratching and itching. Then you notice red or gray, scaly areas on their skin. Then you wonder what kind of skin disease could it be and what you can do to ease the itchiness that your fur-baby is currently experiencing. When it comes to dog skin diseases, ringworm is one of the most common and contagious skin conditions experienced by dogs.
In this article, we’ll talk more about what ringworm in dogs is, ringworm causes, symptoms of ringworm in dogs, how it is diagnosed, and how to treat ringworm in dogs.
"Unfortunately, some dogs carrying ringworm are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show any clinical signs of the said disease. This can present a problem as ringworm can easily spread."
What Are Ringworms?
Despite its name, ringworm, or also called “dermatophytosis” is not a disease caused by worms, but rather a fungal infection that affects a dog’s skin, hair, and even claws. Why is it then called “ringworm”? Well, it derives its name from the round, worm-like rash seen on the infected skin. Though it is common in dogs and cats, it can also be transmitted to humans.
What Causes Ringworm in dogs?
Ringworm can be transmitted in many ways. It can be transmitted thru direct contact with an infected dog, cat, or human. You may be wondering, “human”? Yes, dogs can also get ringworm from an infected human. This is so because ringworm is considered zoonotic, meaning it can be passed from an animal to a person, and vice versa. It can also be passed thru direct contact with any contaminated object especially those that are used daily like grooming tools, couches, beddings, and carpets. The fungal spores can live in infected objects for several months that’s why it is very important to do a thorough clean of one’s home environment to remove fungal spores. It is recommended to use medical-grade gloves and dilute bleach solution when decontaminating.
Symptoms of Ringworm in Dogs
Unfortunately, some dogs carrying ringworm are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show any clinical signs of the said disease. This can present a problem as ringworm can easily spread. It’s important to visit your vet promptly once you’ve noticed your dog having any ringworm symptoms. The appearance of ringworm in dogs is dandruff-like flakes in the depths of your dog’s coat, reddened or darkened inflamed skin, and bald patches are the most common symptoms.
As mentioned by PetMD, other common signs of ringworm in dogs include one or a combination of the following:
- Hair loss (alopecia) that may appear in patches or circular patterns
- Brittle hairs and dull hair coat
- Reddened skin (early-stage ringworm rash)
- Flaky skin, dandruff
- Crusty skin
- Darkened skin
Less commonly, some dogs may show an elevated nodular lesion that may leak called a kerion. The nails and claw folds (the skin that acts as a border to the nail) may also be infected by ringworm fungus, which happens to cause fragile or deformed nails.
How Ringworm Infections Are Diagnosed
Ringworms are usually diagnosed through different methods. The first thing that your vet will do is to observe and examine the lesions and scaling present in your dog’s skin. However, this method is not very accurate and might lead to misdiagnosis, which will usually require additional diagnostic tests to confirm whether ringworm fungi is present.
One method is through the use of a special ultraviolet light called Wood's lamp. Ringworms caused by Microsporum canis fungi usually glow under yellow-green fluorescence when observed in a dark room. However, not all Microsporum canis fungi become visible under a Wood's lamp.
Another one is through the use of a microscope. Your vet will perform this by getting some hair samples from your fur-baby first then viewing and examining it under a microscope, allowing you to see the presence of fungal spores attached to the hair shafts.
There is also a method done through a fungal culture which is known as the most accurate one. It is performed by sending hair samples to a lab for testing.
In addition to these, your vet may also perform additional tests to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms experienced by your pet.
How to Treat Ringworm in Dogs
Ringworms, being highly contagious, should always be treated promptly regardless of how severe it is. There are a lot of ways on how to treat ringworm in dogs. The most effective way to treat it is to use a combination of both topical therapy and systemic therapy. Topical therapy is the usage or direct application of topical antifungal medications—creams, ointments, or shampoos to the infected areas. While systemic therapy or oral medication is done through the intake of anti-fungal drugs to eradicate the infection. Your vet might also advise coat clipping or clipping your dog’s fur around their patches. This will prevent fungus from spreading and help the medicated shampoo work.
Be sure to always wash your hands and sanitize any surface your fur-baby has been in contact with using a bleach solution after bathing them to prevent fro spreading it to your other pets at home.
It is also always a good idea to support your fur-baby’s daily health by providing them with Pet Parents® Skin & Coat SoftSupps®. These skin and coat supplements contain branded ‘Super Ingredients’ that help promote dog skincare and overall healthy skin and coat for your fur-baby! Pet Parents® Skin & Coat SoftSupps® contains a branded form of fish oil for dogs, called Epax®, for a healthy coat and to help support the normal moisture content of the skin. It also has Biotin for that nourished skin and strong nails!
Note: These supplements are exactly what they say they are—supplemental. They do not act as a cure to ringworm in dogs or to any skin diseases your fur-baby might have. It’s always best to consult your vet.
"It is also always a good idea to support your fur-baby’s daily health by providing them with Pet Parents® Skin & Coat SoftSupps®. These skin and coat supplements contain branded ‘Super Ingredients’ that help promote dog skincare and overall healthy skin and coat for your fur-baby! "
There are several actions that you can take to prevent your dog and your family from catching ringworm infection. As the infection is easily transmitted through direct contact with the fungi causing it, it is recommended to do a thorough cleaning of one’s home environment to eliminate any fungal spores that might cause and spread it. In addition to this, if there is more than one pet in your household, separate the infected one from the ones that are not infected while treating the infected one. However, it is also advisable to have all your pets consulted as some might be asymptomatic.