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Dog Ringworm: What Does Ringworm Look Like on a Dog?

It's important to address your dog's ringworm promptly. Our veterinarians in San Diego provide guidance on identifying, treating, and understanding this condition to protect your furry friend from potential complications.

What is ringworm?

Ringworm is a common fungal infection that affects dogs, and despite its name, it has nothing to do with worms. It's caused by dermatophytes, a type of fungi that feeds on keratin found in skin, hair, and nails. Recognizing the signs of ringworm and understanding how to treat and prevent it are essential for any dog owner.

What does a ringworm look like on a dog?

Ringworm typically presents as a circular or ring-shaped pattern on the skin, resulting in redness, hair loss, and swelling.

However, ringworm in dogs may not be easily noticeable, so it's important to watch 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 puppy, please get in touch with a vet immediately.

How does a dog get ringworm?

Dogs can contract ringworm through direct contact with an infected animal or person. They can also get it from contaminated objects such as bedding, grooming tools, and furniture. The fungal spores are resilient and can survive in the environment for months, making it easy for the infection to spread.

Diagnosing Ringworm in Dogs

If you suspect your dog has ringworm, you must visit a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. Vets may use several methods to diagnose ringworm:

  • Wood's lamp examination: A special ultraviolet light can make some species of ringworm fungi glow.
  • Microscopic examination: A sample of hair or skin scrapings can be examined under a microscope.
  • Fungal culture: This is the most definitive method, where a sample is placed in a special medium to see if the fungus grows.

How long does it take to quarantine a dog with a ringworm?

It can be challenging to deal with ringworm in pets. Ringworm spores can stay viable for a long time, from 6 weeks to 18 months, making treatment difficult.

It's important to confine the infected pet to a separate room and limit contact with other pets and family members during treatment.

Although it can be emotionally difficult, keep the pet quarantined for about six weeks and follow a strict cleaning schedule.

Our veterinarians at Kearny Mesa Veterinary Center understand the challenges, but keeping your pet quarantined until the condition has fully cleared can prevent future occurrences and the need for repeated treatments.

How to Treat Ringworm in Dogs

Treating ringworm in dogs typically involves a combination of topical and oral antifungal medications. Topical treatments include antifungal creams, ointments, or medicated shampoos.

Oral antifungals are prescribed for more severe or widespread infections. Depending on the severity of the infection, the treatment course can last several weeks to months.

How to Keep Ringworm from Spreading

Preventing the spread of ringworm is crucial. Here are some steps to take:

  • Quarantine the infected dog: If you have multiple pets, isolate the infected dog to prevent transmission. Knowing how long it takes to quarantine a dog with ringworm is essential; typically, it should be quarantined until the infection has cleared, which can be several weeks.
  • Clean and disinfect: Regularly clean and disinfect the environment, including bedding, toys, and grooming tools. Use bleach and water (1:10 ratio) to kill fungal spores.
  • Personal hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly after handling the infected dog and avoid close contact until the infection is under control.

Ringworm is a manageable condition if detected and treated promptly. By recognizing the signs of ringworm, seeking veterinary care, and taking steps to prevent its spread, you can help your dog recover quickly and avoid reinfection.

Remember, maintaining a clean environment and practicing good hygiene are key to keeping your pets and household ringworm-free.

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 dog is showing signs of ringworm, contact our vets at Kearny Mesa Veterinary Center today.

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Kearny Mesa Veterinary Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of San Diego companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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