Ringworm in Dogs (2023): Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Ringworm in Dogs

Dogs are cherished members of our families who give us unwavering affection and company. But just like people, dogs can also have health problems, and ringworm is a typical condition they might endure. In this post, we’ll go deep into the subject of canine ringworm and examine its causes, signs, symptoms, diagnosis, available treatments, ways to prevent it, and much more.

What is Ringworm in Dogs?

The fungus is known as ringworm because of the round, raised, red ring seen in human ringworm infections. Ringworm, often known as dermatophytes, is a group of pathogenic fungi. In dogs, the fungus Microsporum canis is responsible for 70% of ringworm infections, the fungus Microsporum gypseum is responsible for 20%, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes is responsible for just 10%.

Although the term “ringworm” may conjure up images of lengthy, wriggly intestinal parasites, this is incorrect because ringworm is not a worm at all. Ringworm is a term that has long been used to describe the circular, itchy rash that forms on the skin of an afflicted animal. Ringworm is a fungal infection that can damage the skin, hair, and nails. Dermatophilosis is a medical term for this sort of infection. MicrosPorum and Trichophyton are the most prevalent fungal species that can cause ringworm. The fungus feeds on decaying hair or skin cells.

Ringworm is most commonly found in cats, but it can also infect dogs and humans. It is highly contagious and zoonotic, which means it may transfer from animals to humans and vice versa.

How Does Ringworm in Dogs Spread?

Ringworm is transmitted to dogs by direct contact with the fungus. This can occur when a dog comes into direct contact with an infected animal or person or when the dog touches contaminated material such as a couch, comb, food bowls, bedding, or carpet. The fungus spores that cause the spread can live for up to 18 months and are mainly transferred by the shedding or breaking of contaminated hairs.

Symptoms of Ringworm in Dogs

Ringworm is not a life-threatening condition, but it is very contagious and necessitates the assistance of a veterinarian. Knowing the symptoms of ringworm in dogs will assist you in detecting the condition before it spreads to humans or other pets. Symptoms generally include one or more of the following:

  • Circular areas of hair loss, often with a red and crusty edge
  • Broken hair and a poor hair coat
  • Dry, scaly skin or dandruff-prone areas
  • Skin inflammations
  • Darkened skin patches Itchiness, itching, or over-grooming
  • Inflamed nail beds, as well as discolored or dry nails
  • Nails that are dry, brittle, or malformed

Causes of Ringworm in Dogs

Ringworm is most commonly contracted by dogs through direct contact with an infected animal (usually a dog or cat) or person. Dogs can have the ringworm fungus on their bodies but show no apparent symptoms of the disease; yet, they can still transmit the disease to humans or other animals.

Ringworm in dogs is generally caused by dermatophytes, which are particular forms of fungus. These fungi flourish in warm, humid conditions and can be spread in a variety of ways.

Fungal Infections

Fungal spores responsible for ringworm can be found in soil and on other infected animals. When a dog comes into contact with these spores, the infection may take hold.

Direct Contact

Ringworm is highly contagious and can spread through direct contact with an infected animal or person. Grooming, playing, or simply being in close proximity to an infected individual can lead to transmission.

Weakened Immune System

Dogs with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to ringworm. Puppies, senior dogs, or those with underlying health conditions are at higher risk.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Ringworm in Dogs

When diagnosing ringworm, your veterinarian may employ several tests, the most frequent of which are a Wood’s lamp examination, a fungal culture, and a PCR test.

  • Wood’s lamp examination: A Wood’s lamp is a type of UV light that may identify the fungus that causes ringworm. The fungus will glow with a yellow-green tint when the lamp is shined on the affected skin. This is not a perfect test since not all ringworm cases glow under the Wood’s light.
  • Skin scraping: A skin scraping is a technique in which a tiny number of skin cells are removed from the afflicted region by the veterinarian. The skin cells are then inspected under a microscope for the presence of fungus. The Wood’s light inspection is more exact, although it might be uncomfortable for the dog.
  • Fungal culture: The most accurate technique to detect ringworm is a fungal culture. The veterinarian will collect a sample of hair or skin from the problematic region and cultivate the fungus in a special dish. If the fungus develops, the kind that causes ringworm will be identified.

If your veterinarian suspects that your dog has ringworm, they will likely recommend a combination of these tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Here are some additional tips for diagnosing ringworm in dogs:

  • Look for circular areas of hair loss, often with a red and crusty edge.
  • Check for broken hair and a poor coat.
  • Look for dry, scaly skin or areas of excessive dandruff.
  • If you see any of these symptoms, take your dog to the veterinarian for diagnosis.

Treatment for Ringworm in Dogs

Ringworm is treatable and cured if all treatment, quarantine, and cleaning measures are followed. Ringworm may be highly tenacious, thus it is critical to fully commit to the following procedures:

  1. Quarantine:

As ringworm is very contagious, quarantining your dog is the first step in treating it. To avoid the spread of the fungus, isolate them from other pets and minimize their interaction with people. Choose an easy-to-clean room, such as a spacious bathroom, and avoid carpets or wood flooring, which are tough to disinfect.

  1. Topical Treatments (applied to the body):

Bathing your dog is an important part of the healing process. Bathing on a regular basis helps to remove and destroy the fungus spores on their fur, lowering environmental pollution and the chance of cross-infection. Topical therapies are classified into two types:

a. Lime Sulfur Dips: Lime Sulfur dips are highly effective against ringworm and can be administered at home or at your veterinarian’s office. While they can be messy and odorous, their potency makes them a popular choice for pet owners seeking rapid results.

b. Antifungal Shampoos: Antifungal shampoos, when paired with a disinfectant like chlorhexidine, create a powerful combination to combat ringworm. Regular use (typically twice weekly) can significantly aid in the recovery process.

  1. Shaving Considerations:

Shaving long-coated dogs is not advised since it might cause microtrauma to the skin, leaving the dog more prone to infection. Keeping the dog’s coat at a proper length will help to avoid future skin irritation.

  1. Oral Treatments (medicines taken by mouth):

Oral antifungal drugs help eliminate the ringworm infection by reducing the fungus’s ability to reproduce and spread. Combining oral and topical medicines is frequently advised for better outcomes. Your veterinarian will prescribe the proper oral medicine depending on your dog’s health and diagnosis, taking into account potential side effects, which are mainly connected to the gastrointestinal tract.

Preventing Ringworm in Dogs

Unless they have previously had a case of ringworm in one or more of their dogs, most owners do not need to worry about ringworm prevention on a regular basis. The best strategies to avoid ringworm reinfection in dogs are to thoroughly clean the surroundings of the home, as well as any instruments or bedding that the animals come into contact with on a daily basis, and to follow your veterinarian’s advice.

Knowing the signs of ringworm in dogs can help you avoid the fungus spreading from dogs to humans or other pets. Contact your veterinarian for further information about ringworm or if you believe your dog has ringworm.

Can Other Animals Get Ringworm?

Cats may develop ringworm, and the fungus that causes most cases of ringworm in dogs, Microsporum canis, also causes 98 percent of ringworm in cats. Because many dog owners also own cats, the chance of the fungus spreading from cats to dogs and dogs to cats is rather significant.

Most species of domestic animals can get ringworm, including livestock, so talk to your vet about the risk of spreading ringworm between your pets and other animals.

Can Humans Get Ringworm?

Ringworm may be known by another name, such as “athlete’s foot.” Ringworm isn’t simply a concern for your dog. Microsporum canis can also affect humans, which is why it is critical to take this issue seriously. Ringworm is more common in young children, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems, but anybody may catch this unattractive and painful parasite from dogs.

In humans, ringworm presents as a roughly circular rash that is often red and itchy. If you or a family member notice a rash on your body after your dog has been diagnosed with ringworm, contact your primary care physician.


  1. Can I catch ringworm from my dog? Yes, but with proper hygiene, the risk is low. Wash your hands after handling an infected dog and avoid direct contact with the affected areas.
  2. How long does it take for a dog to recover from ringworm? The recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the effectiveness of the treatment. It may take several weeks for the symptoms to resolve completely.
  3. Are all dogs equally susceptible to ringworm? No, dogs with compromised immune systems or those living in crowded and unsanitary conditions are at higher risk.
  4. Can I use over-the-counter antifungal creams for my dog’s ringworm? It is best to consult a veterinarian before using any medication on your dog, as some human products may not be safe for pets.
  5. Is ringworm contagious to other pets in the household? Yes, ringworm can spread to other pets. Isolate the infected dog and take preventive measures to avoid transmission.

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