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What does ringworm look like on a dog?

Fungal infections like ringworm can cause various uncomfortable and even painful symptoms in dogs. Our vets in Rockland County share the symptoms of this condition along with information about diagnosis and treatment while protecting other pets or people in your home.

What is Ringworm?

The fungal infection ringworm creates circular bald spots and red rashes on the skin, resembling worm-like rings. It is not related to hookworm, roundworm, or tapeworm.

What does ringworm look like on a dog?

Ringworm typically manifests as a circular or ring-shaped pattern on the skin, leading to redness, hair loss, and swelling. However, in dogs, ringworm may not be as easily noticeable. Therefore, you should be vigilant 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

You can also pull up your favorite search engine on the internet and do a quick search for 'What does ringworm look like on a dog?' This will provide images of ringworm and many of the symptoms listed above. 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 spread through direct contact with an infected animal or contaminated objects like towels, food and water bowls, couches, or carpets. The fungus spores can survive for months, which means ringworms can be spread through the fur that your dog has already shed. The fungus can also remain on surfaces and get trapped in your home's carpets, drapes, and linen fibers if they aren't cleaned.

Certain fungi are found in the soil, so dogs can contract a fungal infection while playing outdoors. Your dog's immune system may be able to defend against the fungus, but in some cases, it could lead to a skin infection that might be localized or spread across the body. The severity and extent of the infection depend on various factors, such as your pet's overall health, the specific fungus involved, the area of the body affected, your dog's age, and more.

Sometimes, a pet can be a ringworm carrier 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 be safe. You should also alert any fellow dog owners and dog-walking buddies that your dog has been infected and is being treated and that they should watch for signs of ringworm in their pets.

Diagnosing Ringworm in Dogs

If you are concerned that your dog may have ringworm, schedule a veterinary visit as soon as possible. Treatment is the only way to resolve your pup's skin infection.

Your veterinarian may use various methods to diagnose ringworm in dogs. One of the first steps is to thoroughly examine the affected areas to look for characteristic signs such as circular patches of hair loss, redness, crusting, and scaling.

They may perform a Wood's lamp examination to confirm the diagnosis, which involves shining a special ultraviolet light on the suspected areas. In some cases, the affected hairs may fluoresce, indicating the presence of ringworm.

Your vet may also perform a fungal culture by collecting hair and skin samples to grow and identify the fungus responsible for your dog's skin infection. This allows for a definitive diagnosis and helps determine the most effective treatment plan for your dog's infection.

How to Treat Ringworm in Dogs

If your pet has a ringworm infection, don't worry! Effective treatments are available. Your vet will select the best solution based on the severity of the ringworm.

If the fungus is treated promptly, the treatment process is simple and usually complications-free. Your vet will likely prescribe either a topical medication for the skin or an anti-fungal medication that can be taken orally.

To ensure a complete recovery, decontaminating your home and removing any contaminated items might be suggested.

Additionally, your veterinarian may suggest trimming the fur surrounding your dog's most severely affected areas. Remember that the absence of symptoms does not signify a complete recovery–continue treatment until your veterinarian confirms it.

How long does ringworm last in dogs?

It's a difficult question to answer. Ringworm spores can remain viable for a long time, ranging from 6 weeks to 18 months, which makes treatment very challenging.

If aggressive treatment is used, your dog will remain contagious for about three weeks. The ringworm infection will last longer and remain contagious for an extended time if you do not follow your vet's instructions. It is recommended that you minimize exposure to other dogs or cats and your family members during this period. Two consecutive negative fungal cultures will indicate successful treatment of your dog.

How to Keep Ringworm From Spreading

During therapy, it is important to confine the dog to a separate room in your house and limit contact with other pets or family members.

You might be wondering how long to quarantine a dog with ringworm. While it can be emotionally trying, aim to keep your dog quarantined for about six weeks while you treat their ringworm and maintain an impeccable cleaning schedule. At Rockland Veterinary, our vets know how challenging this can be, but in the long run, keeping your pet quarantined until the condition has fully cleared can prevent ongoing recurrences and the need for repeated treatments. 

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.

Is your dog experiencing dry, crusty scabs or other signs of a ringworm infection? Contact the vets at one of our three convenient locations in Rockland County today.

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At Rockland Veterinary we are passionate about animals and enjoy helping cats and dogs feel well. Contact our vets in Hudson Valley, North Rockland or Pomona today to schedule your furry companion's first appointment!