Ringworm may be seemingly easy to manage but did you know that it can have a serious impact on your dog's health if left untreated? Our Greeley vets talk about ringworm in dogs including what it is and the importance of having it treated.
Dog Ringworm: What is it?
When you think of ringworm it may lead you to think of a number of parasitic worms that can affect dogs. But did you know that ringworm is not actually a worm? It is a fungus that leaves circular or semi-circular bald spots and rashes on the skin.
The reason it gained the name it has is due to the shape and appearance of the skin while infected.
What Does Ringworm Look Like on a Dog?
This fungal infection causes raised patches of skin which can be red and circular with a worm-like appearance,
It is possible for your dog to experience other symptoms instead of or in conjunction with the namesake swelling.
- 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 of the symptoms listed above you should contact your vet as soon as possible.
How Does a Dog Get Ringworm?
Your dog can contract ringworm by coming into contact with any surface that has been contaminated. Unfortunately, this fungus has been known to live for months on the fur shed from infected animals. The fungus can also remain on surfaces or get trapped in the fibers of carpets, drapes, linens, etc. in your home if they’re not cleaned.
Like many other types of fungal infections, this can commonly be picked up by your dog while they are outside playing in the soil. Your dog's immune system may be able to fight the fungus off, or it may turn into a localized or more widespread skin infection, depending on many factors including your pet’s overall health, the species of fungus, part of the body affected, the dog’s age, etc.
It is possible for some dogs to be asymptomatic and so you should have any other pets in your home tested if your dog has been diagnosed with ringworm infection. 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.
How is Ringworm Treated?
The good news is that there are options available for treating ringworm and getting your dog back to peak health. The treatment will depend specifically on the infection that your dog is experiencing. Speak with your vet to learn more about the available options.
Like other conditions and illnesses, the earlier that you seek treatment for your pup the sooner you can get them feeling better and the lower the risk of complications.
Your vet will likely prescribe your pup a topical medication to apply to the skin or an anti-fungal medication that can be taken orally.
Your vet may need to shave the affected area in order to allow for proper treatment of the infection.
Do not assume your dog is cured because they stop showing symptoms. Continue with the treatment until your dog has been deemed cured by your vet.
How Long to Quarantine a Dog With Ringworm?
Ringworm can endure anywhere from 6 weeks to 18 months, although it is not as deadly as other illnesses or diseases. It will not kill your dog and will not cause irreparable damage. The best thing you can do is confine your dog to a separate room in your house and limit contact with your other pets or family members while the therapy is ongoing.
Ideally, you should try and keep your dog quarantined for about six weeks while you battle ringworm. Although this might sound difficult, it should be infinitely easier, and much less expensive, than having to constantly battle ringworm.
It may also be recommended that you get an environmental decontamination of your house to eliminate any contaminated elements.
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.