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What Does Ringworm Look Like on a Dog?

Ringworm is a fungus similar to athlete's foot. Its infective spores are extremely resilient and difficult to remove from the environment. Every animal, including dogs, can develop ringworm infections. In this post, our Groton vets discuss ringworm in dogs and how it may appear on your pooch's body. 

What does ringworm look like in dogs?

Ringworm in dogs can manifest in a variety of ways. Most often, patches of hair loss will appear on a dog's skin, and they will have a crusty coating. A ringworm infection is rarely asymptomatic. These patches of hair loss may be scaly and grey in color, while others may show up as a scarlet lesion. Dogs with long hair, or those who are young or elderly, are more likely to be impacted. 

If you notice any of these symptoms, it's time to bring your dog to a veterinarian for examination:

  • Inflamed, red skin rash 
  • Circular or patchy areas of hair loss 
  • Brittle, dry hair 
  • Scales that look like dandruff. 
  • Darkened skin 
  • Reddened skin 
  • Lesions or scabs on the skin 
  • Inflamed folds of the skin around the claws or nails 
  • Itchiness 

How do vets diagnose ringworm?

If you suspect your dog may have ringworm, take them to the vet right away as this condition needs treatment to be cured. A veterinarian can use a variety of methods to diagnose ringworm. For example, the vet may use an ultraviolet lamp to assess your dog's skin and fur. While this is the most reliable test, it takes 10 days to yield results. 

How is ringworm treated?

Your vet may prescribe an oral medication, or a lotion, spray, or shampoo to treat your dog's ringworm. If your dog has a history of skin issues, take them to the vet as soon as you notice any signs. 

Your veterinarian may recommend treating all of your dogs at the same time, depending on the severity of the infection. Ringworm can cause rashes, hair loss, and other symptoms that appear to be caused by another illness to the untrained eye. Several effective treatments are available if you think your dog may have ringworm. 

Depending on the severity of your dog's ringworm infection, the vet will help you choose the best treatment for them. Here are some common ringworm treatments:

  • Topical medication 
  • Anti-fungal oral medication 
  • Environmental decontamination (such as deep cleaning a carpet to prevent the infection from spreading)

How can I keep ringworm from spreading?

Ringworm is transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal or contact with a contaminated substance. This fungus can linger on surfaces or become trapped in fibers of linens, curtains, and carpets if they are not cleaned. 

Even if there are no obvious symptoms, a pet could be a ringworm carrier. Ringworm spores are tenacious and can survive for a long time in the environment, so confine your affected dog to a single room while you treat them. If you treat your dog but do not remove the virus from your home, he may become ill again.

Soft furniture and carpets should be thoroughly vacuumed and steam cleaned regularly to remove the spores. To clean anything else, disinfectants should be used. Consult your veterinarian about the most effective disinfectants.

How long should I quarantine a dog with ringworm?

Ringworm can last from 6 weeks to 18 months, but it is not as dangerous as other illnesses or diseases. It will not kill your dog or cause irreversible damage. While the therapy is ongoing, 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.

Ideally, you should keep your dog quarantined for six weeks while you fight ringworm. Although this may appear difficult, it should be infinitely easier and far less expensive than constantly fighting ringworm.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to accurately diagnose your pet's condition.

Are you worried that your dog may have fractured a tooth? Contact our Groton vets to have your pup cared for.

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