How to recognize, treat and cure ringworm in dogs.
Ringworm is a highly contagious infection caused by a fungus called microsporum canis. It is also a zoonotic, meaning that it transmits easily from dogs to other animals, including humans.
Ringworm in dogs primarily affects puppies and young adults, typically showing up on the face, ears, paws, and tail.
Ringworm in Dogs: Symptoms
A ringworm infection has several characteristic features, the first of these being scaly and inflamed skin, generally in the shape of small, round lesions. At the center of the lesions you’ll see blister-like pustules, and there will be hair loss in the affected area.
These round lesions normally start out very small and grow outward in size as the infection intensifies. They may also be itchy, or in other instances, may not itch at all.
Generally, the condition of the dog will dictate the severity of the infection. In a strong, healthy dog it will manifest as a mild skin irritation. In a dog with a weakened immune system, it will be severe, quickly spreading from the head to the legs, feet, and tail.
Ringworm in Dogs: Transmission
Microsporum canis spores are particularly resilient, and as a result the disease is extremely contagious. All it takes is a healthy dog brushing against an infected one, or coming into contact with a surface that has live fungal spores.
These spores can survive for long periods away from a host, so may lay dormant on any type of surface. For example, grooming tools, that may have been used on an infected dog months ago, still carry a risk if not properly sterilized.
Ringworm in Dogs: Treatment
Treatment for ringworm involves clipping the area around the lesion very close to the dog’s skin (this must be done by a vet, as breaking the skin can worsen the infection). The lesion is then treated with an anti-fungal ointment, like Miconazole or Lotrimin, twice a day.
In severe cases, an anti-fungal shampoo or dip may also be used. These treatments need to be given every 2 to 4 days until the ringworm has cleared.
It is also very important to disinfect your home, as the fungal spores are extremely difficult to kill. The best course of action is to wash all of the dog’s bedding in a 1:20 bleach / water solution, and to wash down hard surfaces with a similar mix.
It is important to get this right because the infection can recur weeks, or even months later, and you’ll have to go through the whole difficult, expensive, process again. Ringworm in dogs is highly resilient.