Learn About Ringworm In Dogs
This page contains information about ringworm in dogs, including symptoms, causes, treatment options and more.
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Ringworm is, despite what the name may suggest, not a worm at all, but actually a type of fungal infection which does not always develop in a “ring” shape. Ringworm is contagious and can be transmitted easily via contact, not just with infected animals, but also from common objects such as water dishes. Though the condition is not overly serious, it can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as itching, and often leads to a loss of coat around the affected area. Ringworm is easily treatable with modern medicine and clears up quite quickly.
Ringworm, also referred to as “tinea”, is a type of fungus (dermatophyte) which is transmitted via contact. This could mean contact with an infected animal, but also with contaminated objects such as bedding.
Symptoms of ringworm in dogs
Ringworm is often easy to spot, though sometimes your dog may experience no symptoms at all (in other words, it may be asymptomatic). Dogs infected without symptoms cause risk to other pets around them, and will transmit the condition to other animals he or she comes into contact with.
For dogs who do show symptoms, the most characteristic is a loss of hair around affected areas with scaly circular lesions. The hair loss and lesions may look somewhat like mange. Because of this similarity in appearance many pet owners get the two mixed up, so it’s worth checking out the symptoms of mange in dogs and arranging a visit with the vet to be sure. It is also sometimes confused with autoimmune conditions such as lupus.
Because dogs often investigate things with their noses it’s common for symptoms to show around the head area, but ringworm can affect other parts of a dog’s body such as the limbs and tail. Ringworm may also cause irritation and itching, though this is not always the case.
There are several popular methods used to diagnose ringworm in dogs. Firstly, your vet may take a culture from the affected areas, and secondly he or she may inspect your dog’s coat under a special black light called a “Wood’s lamp”. If ringworm is present, it will glow a fluorescent color under the light. Though this method is popular, it is not completely accurate, as not all forms of the fungus glow when exposed to the lamp.
The more accurate method of diagnosing ringworm is to take a culture of the area, but results are not instant as they are with the lamp. Some vets may also choose to inspect hairs under a microscope.
As ringworm is a fungal infection, your dog will be required to complete a full course of antifungal medication such as fluconazole for dogs, also known as Diflucan.
Avoid allowing your dog contact with other animals contaminated with ringworm, or with objects you believe to be contaminated. Putting your dog in a kennel with other dogs also may lead to ringworm due to being in close proximity to a large amount of animals.